Silver vs. platinum: Forget the stadium, car-cleaning products are what's really suspect

·4 min read

You’re kidding. After 30 years, a million studies, about as many funding proposals and at least a half dozen submitted-then-scrapped architectural renderings, a new Hagerstown baseball stadium that appeared all but a sure thing is now at risk of being torpedoed by a car wash? A car wash?

According to The Herald-Mail, the 5,000-seat stadium between Summit Avenue and Baltimore Street requires acquisition of the Auto Spa and Lube Center on Baltimore Street. But the owners, WLR Property Management Inc. in Frederick, Md., aren’t selling.

Al Tyler, vice president of a capital projects group for the Maryland Stadium Authority, told authority members “the project cannot proceed without the car wash and he said in a follow-up phone interview with Herald-Mail Media the next day that failure to acquire it could kill the stadium plan,” the newspaper reported.

Tim Rowland
Tim Rowland

This is insane. OK Mr. WLR Property Management, right here in front of everybody, I’ve got one great big fat question for you, and one question only: Is the “Platinum Package” really any better than the “Silver Package,” or is that just a scam? Come on, you can tell me.

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You know what I’m talking about. It’s like how you choose the “hot wax” setting in the self-serve bay, but you’re not really sure if anything different comes out of the wand or if it’s just a ruse to make you pump in a few more quarters.

I have to be honest, I can’t really say for sure that I see any difference between the Silver and Platinum packages — car looks fine and dandy either way — but maybe with Platinum there is indeed some invisible waxy shield against paint damage.

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You have to cut me some slack because my suspicion is well-earned. Back in college, I worked for a summer at a car dealership where they treated each car with “rustproofing” and then “undercoating,” which was basically just spray-on tar that the mechanics seemed to feel was pretty ineffective.

For another $200 you could opt for this space-age product called Polyglycoat that claimed to be a permanent car wax. It was my job to apply it to the car, but, no lie, it came in this little vial about the size of a tube of SuperGlue that only covered about a third of a car door.

Which was actually a good thing, because Polyglycoat turned out to be this noxious chemical cocktail that ate through the paint instead of protecting it.

It was classic. It boasted a perpetual shine for your vehicle (“You’ll never have to wax your car again!”) and came with a lifetime warranty, too. But the fine print said that, for the warranty to be effective, every six months you have to buff your car with a wax-like polishing agent.

The first time the new-car manager handed me a tube of Polyglycoat and told me to apply it to a Buick the size of an aircraft carrier, I looked at him as if  to say, “Seriously?” But in 1978, Polyglycoat was held in such superstitious awe that, like the loaves and the fishes, it was expected to miraculously multiply.

I later learned that you were supposed to dissolve the concentrate in water, but the manager had thrown away the box that displayed the instructions, and since he was philosophically opposed to reading, he had no clue how it was supposed to work.

So three of us, with comically tiny little cloths, would ritualistically rub down the car as best we could, acting as if we were doing something productive, but knowing we weren’t. I’m sure priests have days like that too.

For all this undercoating and Polyglycoating the dealership would charge what today would be in the neighborhood of $2,500.

The only bright spot was that I got out of the business before my faith in capitalism faded and splintered like a Polyglycoated paint job.

Tim Roland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Polyglycoat sparks questions about car wash that imperils city stadium