Tom & list,
RE:> If I spend anything more than $300 on the paint job I'll never get my dough back on a possible re-sale.<
I guess it comes down to, are you into this bike for love or money? ;<) I agree that the state of the market dictates that proper restorations often cost about as much or more than the bike could be sold for. Same is true of many auto and motorcycle restorations.
At CyclArt we offer many options to control cost. We can do a great, simple refinish for $160. People tend to forget that about us, because we are primarily known for the complex and expensive restorations we undertake. Sometimes there is a middle ground, where we trim the job to a budget, by painting some areas rather than rechroming, skipping precise color matches, etc. I can be reached to discuss details of projects at 760-599-1016.
Often touch-up or partial repaint are the solution. Our touch-ups are "invisible" so the frame does NOT look touched-up, it looks undamaged. Sometimes touch-up is preferred because it preserves the "original finish" and it's precise character.
We can, of course, reproduce the decals exactly. Because your bike is so rare however, you would have to pay for the many hours of art time that would entail. Occasionally, in similar situations, we have trimmed this facet of the job a bit with simplified or clipart based solutions. We may be able to get quite close to the design without complete redrawing. It's up to you as to how accurate you want to be.
If you send us good close up photos of the decals we prepare a more precise estimate and will in any case have the photos on file should another Major Nichols come along.
I was surprised to see that mention of Frejus later in this thread as a difficult bike to restore. CyclArt reproduced most of the Frejus decals in the early 1980's and the TdF version years ago. Since there are many of those bikes, the art cost has long ago been amortized and decals are a small part of the expense in restoring these bikes. Below are links to two of many Frejus restorations we have performed. Sorry for the poor photo quality these are reference shot taken long ago before quality digital photos were easy. We are in the process of building new photos galleries for our soon to be renovated website. We are rescanning hundreds of photos to improve image quality and adding hundreds more.