You say the car is now the colour and TEXTURE of a house brick........is that an over-statement or has the finish really degraded to the point where its that rough?
Colour fade (particularly on 'reds') can be dealt with (up to a point), provided the finish is essentially sound. This involves a fair amount of elbow-grease flatting the existing paint and re-coating.
Personally, (sorry to contradict Lagdti
), I would start with 400 grit (wet) if the car is going to get a primer coat, OR, if it really is THAT bad perhaps a quick once over with (wet) 240 and then 400 - followed by flatting the fully dry primer with 600 grit. Starting with 1200 is going to take a hell of a lot of time.
Don't flat top coats or laquers (prior to polishing) with anything less than 600 on the first pass, moving up to 1000/1200 grit - again wet, eased with a little soap to minimise 'marbles' forming under the paper and scratching the surface finish. Final high gloss finishing / polishing is achieved with cutting / polishing pastes- e.g T-Cut as mentioned above.
At the end of the day, the process of flatting and polishing (whatever the material), is an exercise in abrading the surface with progressively finer materials until the 'scratching' is so fine it appears to be uniformly smooth and glossy.
PAINT HIDES NOTHING - so don't ever be tempted to think "the paint will hide that scratch" - it won't, if anything the final gloss coats make it look worse.
The above comments in my experience would apply if using a refinishing system based on / akin' to the old cellulose formulations.
With 2-pack paint, you can sometimes get away with a colour coat directly over the existing colour (once flatted), but the original does have to be very sound. The worry with older cars is that they will more than likely have seen their fair share of paint repairs (good and bad), it may not be obvious where. There is a significant chance of these reacting with the new paint - which is horrible when it does happen and will HAVE to be stripped off / sanded right back.
As Lagdti states above, a thin barrier coat (e.g BAR-COTE), prior to priming is a very good idea if the original finish is suspect. I always use it on older finishes of suspect origin rather than take a chance on the car 'pickling'......can save you days and days of work.
Modern paint systems (acrylics) will give a high quality / high gloss /very durable finish much quicker / easier than the older systems in the hands of a sprayer who knows what he's doing. These essentially come as either a 'self-glossing' colour or what is refered to as 'clear over base' - i.e clear laquer applied over a base colour coat.
So called 2-pack systems ( 2 components mixed together before spraying) are toxic and you may find that a paint shop (if you were thinking of doing this yourself), will not sell you them unless you are a recognised refinishing shop with the appropriate breathing and filtration facilities.
IF HOWEVER, the paint is beginning to craze / peel / blister over a wide area then the remedy is much more involved and will essentially require stripping the car back to 'bare metal' to stand any chance of getting an acceptable finish.
On a 'K' plate you would have to ask if the cost was justifiable.
Sorry for the rather 'wordy' answer but I wouldn't want you to under-estimate what might be involved.
A good pic(s) of the vehicle might help to assess what you're up against.....