The first body panel I wanted to complete was the bulkhead (or firewall). The reason for this is that all your sub-systems bolt to the firewall, including clutch assembly, brake assembly, steering, electrics, accelerator, etc. The sooner I could get these sub-systems functioning, the sooner I'd be able to actually drive the vehicle, and thus test the engine and gearbox.
I had previously hot-dipped galvanised the bulkhead and radiator panel, as they are made from mild steel, and extremely prone to corrosion. This meant there was a fair amount of cleaning up (grinding away slag and metal drips, drilling out of zinc-filled holes, sanding rough surfaces, etc) to be done before I could paint it. Also, the finish was never going to be perfect without loads of body filler and/or filler-primer, both of which I was loathe to use. I'd rather a less-than-perfect finish, than know I has used oodles of filler.
Once cleaned, I did my first spray run in the new spray booth, on the bulkhead and radiator panel. First a coat of self-etch primer, then followed by the 2k final colour. The result was very satisfying (seeing a fresh coat of bright, new shiny paint on the part!), even though it was not the best spray job... (again, I'd rather do it myself and have it not perfect, than farm the job out to a professional. I mean, where would the fun, or learning, be in that!?).
With the newly painted bulkhead on convenient (home-made) stands, I could begin to refurbish each sub-system and mount/install it onto the bulkhead. As per the rest of this project, I stripped and refurbished every single item, before rebuilding it onto the vehicle.
The various dash panels (which were badly weather beaten and dull) received a thorough cleaning, and a coat of Rustoleum Vinyl Paint. The product is amazing, and the panels came up like new. Fitting the 80% complete bulkhead to the vehicle went fairly smoothly, and once in place, I could finalise the steering column, accelerator linkage, and brake and clutch lines. Once I had bled the brake system, there were a number of leaks that needed sorting, but eventually the vehicle seemed pretty much ready for a rolling test (watch this space!)....!