I want to thank everyone for so graciously taking time out of your day to respond to a new guy looking for opinions.
I appreciate everyone's input here and understand the collector mindset many of you have. Older, rarer, original finishes are more desirable and have much better investment potential....I get that and embrace it in most of my collecting activities which include a 50 gun firearm collection and a collection of a dozen or so antique electric fans. However, my collecting activities in regard to petroliana have another focus. I am collecting memories. I'm only interested in specific items that were a part of my everyday work life when I was a kid pumping gas in a Shell station.
I've already attempted to clean the cabinet, tried polishing compound...the paint is just not there. The cabinet looks much better in the picture than it does in reality. A lot of surface rust bleeding through. I've already made the decision to restore the cabinet, the condition just does not fit the memory I have of the cabinet back in the early 1970's when the cabinet I remember was relatively new. I figure the restoration will cost me maybe $500 to $1000.....much more than the cabinet is worth. It's like this....I'm 61, retired and have reached a point in my life where I can afford to indulge myself.
Really the only issue is the graphics. The Autolite/GT 40 graphic appears to me to be screen printed & not a decal or sticker. If I can't preserve the graphics, my next choice would be to recreate the them with screen printing. Decals or stickers would be a last resort. I have not checked with local screen printers yet but I will. I just thought maybe some of you here might have had some experience here with the process.
Here's a few more pics that maybe better show how bad the surface rust is and a couple extra just because everybody likes to look at pics. LOL