It was quite a shock walking into the Fix Auto Petersfield workshop to be greeted by our Peugeot, looking resplendent in its birthday suit.
After 20 hours of bodywork attacking by the restoration team – led by project manager James Poste – they had stripped back nearly all of our Peugeot 205 GTi 1.9's old paint to the bare metal.
Using healthy supplies of stripper the many coats of old black paint had bubbled and blistered off the surface to reveal our car's blemishes in all their gory detail.
James had highlighted a number of problems prior to the stripping – he'd covered the car in pink pen marking where all the imperfections were.
Now, with the paint on the floor rather than the panels, these were clear to see. Worst of all was the key mark, which had gorged a deep cut all the way into the metal from the rear driver's side panel across to the front door.
Even with the paint removed you could still clearly see the scratch in the metal.
James pointed out the dents and filler that scarred the body and talked me through the repair process he had lined up. J39 JMR will be in Fix Auto Petersfield's hands for at least a further three weeks where more stripping back will be completed and repairs tackled, before the first coat of primer can be applied.
However, it's certainly going to be worth it when we've finished.
During my latest visit, James presented me with a list of parts he'd like to replace to bring the little French hot hatch back up to concourse standards.
It's not the shortest of Christmas lists, that's for sure. New headlamps, indicators and fog-lamps are on there, as well as various pieces of trim, badges, door rubbers and clips.
It even needs a new windscreen as the last one cracked as they prised it out of its 20-year-old mold.
Some parts will be available over the counter at the local Peugeot dealer, but a few, I've already been warned, won't be. That should make for an interesting hunt ahead.
I've already got in touch with Peugeot UK to see if they can help point me in the right direction and hopefully by the time I go to see J39 JMR again, I'll know which bits I can and can't get.
James is confident we can fix up some of the badges to look like new if we have to, so there are back-up plans in place. For some bits...
"Now it's stripped back it's no worse or better than I first feared," James explained.
"It's a big job and I always knew it would be. I know it's scary seeing it like this, but it's the worst it's going to look. From here it'll just keep on looking better."
James and his team have even managed to tackle the rusty window edge. While I was visiting they cut out the bad patch and had already fashioned a new plate to weld into place. The repair was incredible.
"For a car of this age it's got surprisingly little rust," added James.
"Looks like on that front you got yourself a good one!"
I'll be back at Fix Auto Petersfield in a week or so to see the first coat of paint applied and then the team plan on getting me to help repair the alloy wheels. Sounds a lot like hard work to me...
Project Peugeot Costs so far