The choice you have made in purchasing a body shell for your car instead of the component parts to repair the existing one is correct. The man hours of labor and degree of experience and skill involved to assemble the shell are extensive and you have rightly chosen to entrust this to British Motor Heritage, the original manufacturer.
The body shell is a rigid item, delivered assembled to the build condition you require. The body is electrophoretically primed and sealed (also known as ‘E’ coated). This process involves submerging the entire body shell in an electrically charged dip tank of special anodic etch primer. This, you will understand, means that the primer will contact all metal surfaces and electrically etch to them ensuring superior corrosion resistance. This process is to the same standards used by Rover Cars and other major car manufacturer worldwide. The under-body is anti-stone chip coated and under-sealed. Additional coating and sealing may be applied to satisfy individual needs prior to painting.
On receipt of your body shell, familiarize yourself with the item and inspect it to ensure that it is exactly the correct specification to accept your donor car’s running gear, trim and fixings. This is particularly important if, for instance a different engine type has been fitted previously and your car’s old body shell has been modified to accept it. The body is constructed to a standard. Those intending to build their car for entry in car club vehicle appearance or condition displays and competitions will need to apply much additional work to bring their entire car to the exceptionally high standards now demanded for concours d’ellegance eligibility.
If you believe the shell to be unsuitable for your requirements, or faulty in any way, contact the supplier immediately before any painting, fitting, modification or rectification costs are incurred. No such costs will be entertained unless accepted in writing by the supplier. Contact in the first instance must be made via the Heritage Distributor who supplied the body assembly.
It is matter of personal choice as to whether or not the body is part built with the running gear prior to painting. Bear in mind that moving a fully painted shell around the workshop without wheels often leads to paint damage. Painting a bare shell is of course the way to get the best possible finish and paint coverage.
For paint finishing advice, the assistance of a professional paint supplier or refinisher should be sought. The previously mentioned electrophoretically applied primer must not be removed from the body panel surfaces, nor rubbed through to expose bare metal; it should be prepared and have polyurethane surface applied. This is a suitable and compatible basis for most modern topcoat paint finishes. It may not be suitable for use with cellulose based paints, in which case an effective barrier coat and undercoats will be required. If in any doubt at all either, try a small test area of paint first and allow drying or, seeking professional advice.
The primer and paint gets into every possible crevice of your new body shell; this means that all tapped or threaded inserts, nuts or holes should be cleared and cleaned of primer, paint or debris prior to the attempted installation of any threaded fastener. This is particularly crucial for seat belt, steering and suspension mounting points, plus all other safety related components.