For $$$ saving, check out craigslist in your area (where are you located?). As an example: 1996 Cobra with front end damage $2500, located in San Diego area............... search and find what you need.
I don't think a donor Chevy will be cost effective.
Most guys are using the '87 - 95' 5.0L pushrod engines or the '96 + modular motors. These donors also provide transmissions, rear-ends, front spindles, brakes, pedal assemblies, power steering and brakes, and various other parts. Some better suited than others.
My personal preference has been a combination of years.
I'd recommend starting with a build plan to determine your needs / desires, then determining your approach.
In order to answer your question effectively we need to know your plans for the car.
Once we have that you will get opinions based one each individuals experience. Personally I had a very good experience with my first build using a 1989 Mustang. I have since used 4.6 SOHC and DOHC motors. They are awesome as well.
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