I think a big question is: Can you FIND cars with little rust in your
area? If yes, that's what I would do, buy a car with a good body, and
transfer all the parts. Bodywork takes a lot of time = $$$ if you have it
done. Most of the work required with a different body shell you could do
yourself for little investment (other than time).
If you decide to restore, remember, it takes about twice as long as you
think and about three times as much money!
You could use the bodywork money for a plane ticket to Phoenix and the
gas for the way back...
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