For anyone thinking of prepping, spraying or even paying someone else to spray their fibreglass kit car, and I can fully understand why someone spending a small fortune on a Ferrari replica would want it done professionally, I can offer the following advice based on my own experience as a first-time sprayer.
I'd never even considered spraying a car myself before and had every intention of handing over a modestly sized cheque to the Sammio car company, who charged £800 at the time (2011) to prep and spray your home-built car in a solid colour of your choice.
A couple of things changed that and neither of them were financial. First I really got into the build process. Early on I found that my chassis was rotten and needed quite a bit of welding, but I hadn't been trained as a welder (although I'd qualified with a City and Guilds in Aeronautical Engineering a the age of 17 I was exclusively trained to use hand tools as we were expecting to have to fight a fast moving European theatre war against a vastly numerically superior Eastern Bloc force, so didn't expect to have access to machine-shop facilities and were trained to make-do-and-mend our war machines in the field instead). All the advice I got was that welding wasn't something a beginner could do but I bought myself a £60 Manual Metal Arc (stick) welder and had a go anyway. My welds weren't pretty but they held and are still all solid as an (ugly) rock five years later.
Through this site I also met Phil J, who is now a firm friend, and found that he'd sprayed his own car in a domestic garage, albeit a huge
one. I decided that if I could get my car to look even half as good as his did by spraying it myself I'd be as happy as a dog with two d*cks.
So, it became something of a personal challenge to do everything
myself (except trimming, I once glued myself to the inside of my beetle trying to do the headlining, and once was enough).
With regard to the paint, I took advice from Phil, but also sought advice from Jawel, who are one of the largest paint suppliers in the West Midlands and supplied the silver cellulose I ended up using, and some people with far more experience of working with fibreglass cars than anyone other than Colin Chapman - Gary Janes and Mike (Miglia).
Mike sprayed this one, btw -
I've attached a link to my original question to Mike about preparing and spraying a fibreglass surface here, because his reply is still a good starting point for anyone who is considering going down the diy route -
I ignored part of his advice - I didn't try to dig out any bubbles (can't remember why, think I was just too impatient) and I followed Jawel's advice to use etch primer before the high build primer on fibreglass - but went with most of it as I recall.
So, with no previous experience and no real clue what I was doing, I followed some advice I acquired from strangers on the internet and painted my own car. And the result? Well, I rushed the prep, putting in about twenty hours - I was two years into what was supposed to be a six-month build and just wanted to get it on the road - so there are a few blemishes that I missed. There's a strange phenomenon on the offside rear wing where the paint looks dull under artificial light but is really glossy in the sun (I have no idea what causes that) and there's a bit of dust stuck in the surface low down from my garage floor which I clearly didn't hoover well enough before I started (and there's a whole other debate to be had about whether or not to wet the floor before spraying...)
But, with no experience, no skill, cheap tools and cheap paint sprayed badly onto a cheap car, partially following advice from mostly unknown sources that could've been yanking my chain, this is what I ended up with -
The general reaction it gets is very positive. People often ask me if it's unpainted aluminium and I really like the way it looks. I should have spent more time on the prep. I could have sprayed it more carefully. I could still polish it to a higher gloss, but I rather like its refugee racer sprayed in a hurry in the pits look so I probably never will.
I've made a few mods to the body over the last couple of weeks so I'll be attempting to blend some new paint into the old in a few days, which I'm led to believe is very difficult on 2 pack - something to do with the old paint not dissolving into the new like cellulose does - and that's definitely something to consider when choosing a paint system for a fibreglass car, because of the possibility of settlement/stress cracks, no matter who ends up spraying it.
Good luck to everyone getting the finish you want and I look forward to reading any advice and experiences anyone else can bring to the table.