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From digest.v5.n118 Fri Aug 16 19:03:39 1996
From: (daniel j. chin)
Date: Fri, 16 Aug 1996 18:28:40 -0700
Subject: <E36 M3> Paint protection, bras, clear film (long)

Bob Sawyer inquired paint protection using a clear 3M film as a clear bra. Chris Sawwa mentioned StonGard and raised some questions.

I was going to wait until my complete StonGard installation was complete before writing about this product. About 3 wks ago, i contacted StonGard after hearing about their product on this list. Since they did not have a 96 M3 Lux spoiler pattern, i went to LA to get a partial installation while they took a pattern from my front spoiler. I spent the better part of a morning meeting StonGard reps and watching the installation on my car and others. For the record, the following comments are not compensated in any fashion by StonGard.

My installation: thus far, i have the 8 mil thick film, a urethane 3M product that is likely the same as what Bob Sawyer mentioned, on my mirrors, door handle 'cups', door edges, front-most ~10 inches of the hood, ~8 inches of the forward parts of the R&L fenders and the lower grill strip covered with the film. These were from their 95 E36 pattern. The lower spoiler is 'in the mail'.

In talking with Tim (Seattle StonGard owner) and Kurt (LA rep), i learned that their product has evolved over the past 4 yrs from their extensive autocross and track experiences.

Sidebar: Kurt has 4 (!) Porsches; one for autocross and another for hi-speed tracks- he also has a Dodge Ram Magnum with the Viper V-10 engine to haul his track cars. Note to John Browne- Kurt says that his Magnum out-pulls his former Suburban on long-grades.

Tim & Kurt's track experiences have defined the criteria for what common surfaces need to be covered and what the cost/benefit optimum is (the film is not cheap). It appears that the most stone damage from tracks occurs in frontal areas with less than a 45 degree offset from vertical. They cover only about 8-12 inches of the front hood. As for the M3 mirrors, only the frontal area is covered partly because of its complex curves. The film is easier to apply than window tint film because its elastic and can be 'molded' around curves and multi-planed surfaces. The film also has UV-protectants to prevent fading of the covered paint.

Chris Sawwa wrote:

> I got ... a sample of the material in the mail. It feels
> a bit delicate for my taste ... but it sounds OK except
> that it costs about !!! $250 !!.

Correct, except that a full installation covers more than the $90 Colgan bra (which i also have and need to sell). If one were to add the Colgan mirror bras, door edge protectors and handle cups, it would be close enough to $200.

> ... for that kind of cash I am not buying it unless I hear
> every single other BMW owner saying that they had it for the
> past 5 yrs and it worked. :)

Chris's smiley is appropriate because many Porsche autocrossers in the Northwest have evidently been happy with this product for the past 4 yrs. StonGard only became a business because so many of Tim's track friends asked him for the film.

> when you apply it and then your car gets dirty or the film
> gets screwed up by stone chips, what do you do? peel it
> off and wash it?

The film is washable; it will preserve the paint beneath so users must rigorously wax uncovered paint surfaces adjacent to the film-protected areas. As for really large or hi-velocity stones damaging the film, the urethane film is adhesivebacked yet can be removed within several yrs according to Tim. I saw a 1 yr old film peeled off and residual adhesive had to be removed with 3M adhesive remover. The film can't be reused, so a replacement part would be required.

> So far it sounds to me like even for all it's faults
> a good bra is a winner.

YMMV, but i disagree. When my installation is complete, i expect that the product will provide 'equivalent' protection as the Colgan bra while being (i) a lot more convenient, (ii) more attractive and (iii) less damaging to the paint. Hi-mileage bras tend to rub away the paint along the clamp contact points. While tape can mitigate this, it just adds to the inconvenience that most users avoid by only using standard bras for occasional trips/events where stones are expected/feared.

Along with the tendency of dirty or wet bras to cause serious paint damage, the near-invisible film (except on white cars) will be there for more than the occasional long trip- hence providing a longer duration of protection than sporadic use of a standard bra. Additionally, the clear bra is less likely to be stolen; Colgan mirror bras in particular seem to easily grow wings.

96 M3 Lux, Boston Green/Modena Natur, Dinan airbox/exhaust 87 Dinan 2.8L Stroker and many mods, Black/tan, for sale

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