A look back at today’s automotive history: what happened to Rain Dance wax?

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / Shade Tree Engineering

Monday August 9, 2021 – In my youth, I was a car fanatic. Due to my lack of income, I learned early on that you can save a lot of money by changing your own oil and doing other car maintenance yourself without paying someone else for it. do.

My first car, a 1971 Volkswagen Type III Fastback.

As a young car owner, I learned the basics of auto mechanics from some of the best – three members of the Dickerson family. Younger brother Earl was a year behind me in school; his older brother Damian was a few years ahead of me, and their older brother Connie worked at the Ford assembly plant and lived in Bardstown. It was Connie’s house and garage on West Forrest Ave. which served as a classroom for Auto Mechanics 101.

I learned a lot from the Dickersons, not only the basics of auto mechanics but also car maintenance, including the proper way to wash and wax a car. As a young car owner, you wanted a well-maintained and stylish car. Luckily my first car was a reliable but ugly 1971 VW Type III Fastback. No amount of washing and waxing was going to really improve its appeal.

Over time, I built on the automotive basics I learned from Connie, Damian and Earl; I broadened my skills and found my favorite products for washing and waxing my car. For my money, the best car wax was a product called Rain Dance.

Rain Dance was available as a paste or liquid wax, and served as both a cleanser and a wax. The shine it provided was deep and extraordinarily smooth.

My 1955 Chevy Bel Air hardtop, circa 1982.

I have used Rain Dance on all of my cars including my 1955 Chevy Bel Air 2-Door Hardtop which I bought for the princely sum of $ 1,600 in 1979.

I used to like the old Chevrolet, but getting married and starting a family pushes car priorities away; a car becomes less about self-expression and more about getting from point A to point B. I rarely took the time to polish what I was driving at the time.

I sold my 55 Chevy several years ago and finally got the desire to own another classic car. Last October, I was browsing social media and saw something I couldn’t believe – a 1956 two-tone blue Plymouth Belvedere for sale. But not just any car, but one that I recognized from my past.

For years the car was owned by a man I had known from our high school days – Gary Brady. Gary owned the Plymouth during the years I owned my old Chevrolet. My Chevrolet was a hot rod, while Gary’s Plymouth was original. After Gary’s unfortunate death a few years ago, his Plymouth ended up in the hands of a man from Elizabethtown who decided to sell it last year.

1956 Plymouth Belvedere V-8 2-Door Sports Coupe

After examining the car and haggling a bit, the Plymouth was mine – which brings me back to my discussion of car wax and Rain Dance.

When it came time to wax the Plymouth this cruising season, I thought I’d go back to my old ‘days’ routine – go get some Rain Dance, park the car under a shade tree and wax. -the.

Unfortunately, it was not that easy.

21st Century Problem # 1 – There is no Rain Dance to be found – not the Rain Dance like I used to 40 years ago, anyway. The brand is owned by another company, but the wax product I knew is gone (with the exception of eBay, where old, unopened Rain Dance wax boxes fetch well over $ 100 each).

Rain Dance: Obtained but not forgotten.

Apparently, the Rain Dance brand has changed hands several times throughout its history. Former owners include DuPont, Borden and Armor All. But with my favorite wax no longer available, I headed down the car service aisle of a local parts store to find a suitable replacement.

21st Century Problem # 2 – Car waxes have become high tech. I figured I could drop by the store, get some wax, cut an old t-shirt, and start waxing. But it’s not that simple nowadays.

First off, you almost need a chemistry degree to figure out what kind of wax product to buy.

Transparent layer or no transparent layer? Do I need a wax with “Advanced SiO2 Hybrid Nanotechnology? If I did, would I even want to put it on my car? And what is a “hydrophobic synthetic wax?” It sounds like one of the childhood illnesses I was vaccinated against.

And it seems that in the 21st century, no self-respecting car owner uses old t-shirts to polish a car – they sell a wide variety of microfiber towels, terry cloth polishing cloths, and other products. fancy to help get the job done. While I succumbed to the marketing and bought a small bundle of microfiber towels, I also dived into our rag box at home for used cotton bath towels and t-shirts with holes in them. Old habits die hard, I guess.

Two trips to the parts store later, I had three bags of various odd-sounding chemicals, compounds, and elixirs that were supposed to make washing, cleaning, polishing, and waxing old Plymouth easier.

I ended up restricting the field to a product brand that existed in my youth. Years ago, my dad introduced me to Meguiars liquid wax. My dad preferred Meguiars to Rain Dance, and I used it sometimes too. Browsing through the many unusual brands and products, I recognized the name Meguiars. It was reassuring to find that among the chemically laden high tech wax products on the shelves, a simple brown bottle of Meguiar’s cleaner / wax was still available in the 21st century.

And just like many years ago, I have found Meguiars to be easy to use and so far has done a good job bringing out the chandelier and restoring the color of the old Pymouth paint. While I plan to try some of the other next-gen chemical compounds that look like something out of the whole Star Trek set, for now I’m happy to find an “old school” product that still does what it does. says he does.

EPILOGUE. I enjoyed my reintroduction into the world of classic cars that the Plymouth provided. My wife and I took the chance to cruise back to Bardstown, even without the perks of Dairy Chef, Riley’s Drive-in, or Burger Queen.

I enjoyed working on the old Plymouth, but there are issues with this job that I didn’t have to deal with 40 years ago – things like stiff knees, sore shoulders, sore muscles, and a sore back. creaks from all the bends, curves and friction needed to make the old Plymouth shine again. And unlike my search for a new car wax, there’s nothing in the auto parts store that is going to help my aches and pains – except maybe a new box of WD40.

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