Re: 87 Ford or 88 Chevy?
I had similar choices in buses out here in Western Kansas. I could have bought a local bus for a little more than what I ended up paying for mine. I looked really hard at an 86 Ford B700, 6.6l Turbo, Allison auto, air brakes, Ward body...178k miles, about $1600. I ended up passing on it because there were just a few too many things to fix...a water pump mainly.
I ended up flying to Ohio to pick up a well maintained 88 GMC C60, 8.2L DD, Allison auto, air brakes, BlueBird body, 200k miles, about $1250. I did get a chance to talk to the mechanic who worked on this bus for the last several years. The maintenance was right, the price was better! I was leery of the 8.2L DD as well. But I thought I'd take a chance, and I haven't regretted it. It has far surpassed my expectations. The Silver Snail's "maiden voyage" was 1200 miles back home! She made it without a hitch. Actually, today is the one month anniversary of my purchase...since then, we've put over 2000 miles on...getting nearly 10 mpg to boot!
In my case, I think the money was about the same. I had to buy a place ticket to Ohio, etc. But I knew the maintenance on the GMC, and to a large extent, got really lucky! So far, I haven't regretted my purchase. She's always started without being plugged in all the way down to 12*.
That's just my 1/50th of a dollar...