Based on your budget For suspension I would look at Ridedtech Street Grip ot Hotchkis TVS packages. You'll benefit also with larger 17" or 18" wheels and tires. That will burn up about $5k of your budget. If you want to stay auto I like the 700R4 or 200R4 the 4L80E requires an stand alone controller and tunnel mods to fit. The swap will cost around $2K all in.
That leaves $3k for the EFI swap and the misc stuff. (most issues have been guys not following instructions. Lol) I like the Holley or Fast with a Tanks Inc EFI tank and in tank fuel pump.
Things have a way of adding up quick! I talked to the folks at the RideTech tent a couple days and they seem to have some great products. I'm not far from Jasper, IN and it would be nice to do business locally. I've been looking at the Hotchkis TVS Stage II also, but I'd really like to get rid of the leaf springs with the RideTech for not much more money. I didn't realize the 4L80E required a tunnel mod, I'll probably stay away from that. I've been trying to find some reviews of the new Holley Stealth EFI, but I suppose I can't find any because it's relatively new. Thanks for the advice!
Once you start driving the car more often if you have a small leak in your trans, it will probably go away once the gaskets swell back up. I have a 65 mustang and if it sits for more than a month the trans will leak a little. If it gets driven often doesn't leak at all.
If you are having issues with the carb, and it has been 12 years since you ran it, it wouldn't hurt to rebuild it. I would also flush all the gas and put in new. Also change the oil.
Distributor- you could go back with a stock unit and then put a petronix set up in it.
(These would all be pretty minimal cost wise.)
I would get the car operable first, to where it can be enjoyed, and then work on each item separately. This way you don't get burnt out or bogged down by many different projects at once, and you can enjoy the car more often. Also give you time to research and price out what you would lie to do.
Just my 2 cents
I've got a crack in the trans cooler line in a place I can't get to without the trans coming out. Also, I think I damaged the seal when installing the torque convertor many years ago. I may end up pulling it.
A couple years ago, I took the car to an engine builder to try and get the carb correct. He called me the next day and told me to come over after he disassembled it (Holley Street Avenger). He said in his years of working on carbs, he'd never seen anything like it. The body of the carburetor inside was highly corroded and turned to powder when you touched it. I called Holley and gave them the serial number. They said the Chinese manufacturer had forgotten to add lead to the alloy mixture when molding the carb bodies and that this serial was recalled. They sent me a brand new one. Engine guy installed it, said he was having trouble with it but got it as close as he could. Drove it the next day and the electric choke suddenly stuck on, fouled the plugs and left me stuck in trafffic on the way home. Got it towed the rest of the way home and it's been parked since.
But you're right, I've got to get it running reliably before I move on to the "Nice to haves." I appreciate the thoughts!
When a car requires major work (rust repair for example) or the builder has big goals like a high end pro-tourer, then I understand diving in with an ambitious long term build. But for more modest projects I believe that we can stay more motivated by starting smaller and getting use of the car along the way. Down the road when all the small stuff is done if you have the passion for bigger projects then I believe that is the time to take them on after you've proven to yourself that you have the time (and commitment).
I love all the massive builds that guys spend 50 hours a week on for a few years or spend many tens of thousands doing an awesome build, but those really are special and not everyone is ready to tackle one. My $0.02
I can definitely understand that. I've got two jobs, a small cattle and horse farm, and two teenagers who are into lots of activities. 50 hours a week definitely isn't happening! I'm trying to keep my wishlist limited to bolt-ons only, but one thing always seems to lead to another. I'm in no hurry, I've waited many years, I can wait more but I'd like to at least get a good start. Cheers!