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It really did vary but mostly people used one or two brush-painted colours in fantasy liveries. Humbrol enamel used to just about work, if used thin enough, or the new-fangled acrylic paints. Lexan spray and brush paint arrived and stuck much better, but probably not until the 80s. People did use cellulose car paint, but that has to be used with extreme care as over-use could lead to the body curling up, and it attacked any non-cellulose paint it came across. Decals were a bit hit and miss, and many people used to hand-paint their numbers and leave it at that.

Even in the 1970s 1/24 racers dabbled with airbrushed bodies but I don't know what paint they used.

I do remember Ian Fisher having a nice M20 in the correct-ish orange with dark blue wings front and rear - easy to see the stickers on colours like that, and that was always a consideration. John Goldsmith used to do great concours bodies - I remember his BASF BMW M1 (check out the real thing, red and white swirls) and another M1 with a map of France on it. Both were prototypical and I think brush painted, on the inside of course.

I think Tony's M20 would have been two shades of green, but then all his cars were!
 
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