Original vs. Restored
This issue comes up often as it does mostly because the market has changed and values on the XJS are moving upward in fairly recent years which leaves many asking which is more valuable and does a re-spray diminish the value, and how and why it may affect the value on the XJS an emerging classic. The higher value of all original classic cars is relatively new in the scheme of things.
The World began to take notice as some collectors had a great love for the all-original untouched car then things began to shift. Notably, from what I have seen, people like Jay Leno with his vast collection and celebrity status influenced the market for the good. Jay has for many years revered the all-original car and cosmetically speaking, drove them just as he found them. Well, he would clean them of course.
Others with vast collections began to do the same and it then became a common practice in that circle in the ’90s. Before this period, you would buy what is known as a barn find and start the search for a parts car as there were very few if any parts available for the very rare cars. Then the normally several years' frame-off restoration would begin. When finished they would create bidding wars that were mostly driven by testosterone. It was normal to see very rare cars sell for anywhere from $200,000 to around $3,000,000.
Somewhere along the way into the new Millennium collectors were passing on and some extremely rare cars were showing up in garages and real barns, hay included. Some were only heard of but never seen by any living person or not seen for 50 to 100 plus years and most were known as a one-off, meaning only one was made. This was common with cars like Duesenberg and Rolls Royce just to name a couple.
The customer had so much wealth that very much like today where they would not want to drive anything similar to a rival i.e. my car is better than yours, my house is bigger than yours. So your cars had to make a statement. I bought a 1958 Rolls LWB that was a factory-made car and was one of 9 made. This is because the wealthy Americans since the ’20s wanted custom-built cars with everything available i.e. my car in 58 had power windows and AC but was built in Crewe. The custom-built rolls were built in Springfield MA. You would buy a fully running chassis from Crewe, have it shipped to Springfield for a custom-built body, and a Springfield car today is so much more valuable than a Crewe car being a one-off.
Here is a great example that took place about three years ago between two dealers in NY to whom I have purchased cars from both and sold a couple to one of them. I am not revealing the names, as there was a very painful lesson due to a decision made based on his experience buying, restoring, and selling million-dollar classic cars. The other one I have bought and sold cars to and he buys right and sells for a fair profit, and I say fair because dealers buy from him and still make a very handsome profit when re-selling. Known as turn and burn, he never keeps cars for long. Well, he bought a real barn find 50’s Mercedes 300 SL with hay, dust, spider webs, and rodent nest under the hood.
My guess is he paid somewhere around $900,000 to $1,000,000 based on my experience dealing with him and the percentage of profit he normally makes when selling. Well, he offered it to the other dealer who buys, restores then sells. The offer was for 1,100,000 but the other dealer turned it down thinking of a restoration cost of several hundred thousand then having to sell it for the most he could get in today's desired all original market.
The dealer who owned it scheduled to send it to CA for an auction at Pebble Beach that was a few months away. He shipped it with very strict instructions to push the car around over the same handprints that were already there to preserve all the dust. This was mentioned as they were pushing the car on stage, several people walked up to inspect moments before the bidding then the egos were on fire! That car sold as is no reserve dust, nest, and spider webs for $1,800,000. And guess who was there buying and selling a few cars and it took place right in his face! He lost money on both cars he sold there and they were cars that he had restored.
At the end of the day, a re-spray on a classic can be a hole in the head if it is a million-dollar car that is very rare. But as noted in most valuation tables such as Hagerty or NADA there is a certain amount of allowances to a re-spray on a modest classic i.e. the XJS and the car will not lose any value if done correctly and not a $1,000 paint job which you normally get a lot for your money as it includes overspray on the chrome, tires, and glass and sometimes as I have seen, even the interior. So there you have it. If you are considering an XJS for purchase, I would say you need not be concerned about a re-spray or replaced interior as it will only enhance it and reduce your to-do list and again only if professionally done.