In my opinion, the most realistic distressing on a guitar finish I have handled is by Clive Brown. To me, both neck and body indistinguishable from the real thing, of which I have several. His CAR reproduces the straightish parallel checking lines particular to this finish and LPB perfectly. A couple of examples below. I tried the 65, the finish was fantastic
Bravewood is also very good, particularly the neck finish, which is similar to Clive Brown's.
Fender relics are OK. The body wear is reasonably convincing, albeit the checking usually exaggerated. The simulated neck wear is generally poor, with the unrealistic belt-sander look with definite pronounced edges that I have never seen on genuine examples.
The OP's 38 year old Aria, like my 38 year old jv squier, has a poly finish which is much tougher than the nitro finishes most relic finishes are trying to simulate. It will probably never look remotely like a relic.
Re the Rory Gallagher guitar, my strong expectation is that most of the finish came off when the guitar was being cleaned over the years. You would never get significant wear where on that guitar the finish is completely gone.
If the finish on a genuine nitro fender gets dirty and gunky, the finish softens and the gunk becomes part of the finish. Any attempt to clean it after that can result in the top layers of lacquer and some of the colour coat coming off, exposing the base coat. I have a 64 I have gently tried to clean, using nothing more aggressive than a soft duster and spit and a patch of the red in the sunburst came straight off. I smile when I see old guitars and basses where this has obviously happened and it is presented or discussed as play-wear.