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You're on the right track. The best thing to do is find someone with experience working on classic GTOs.

I would start by doing a web search for GTO Clubs. For example, in Northern California, there's a club called Golden Gate GTOs (or something like that). Ping a couple of members, or visit their site, and find out who they'd go to for a rebuild. Who knows, the guy might give you a break.

Regarding the rust, do the same. Since it sounds like you're on a budget, a complete overhaul isn't an option. However, topical rust can be treated -- but where there's smoke -- there's fire -- so there's probably a lot of rust in areas you can't see.

Overall, you're on the right track -- but I'd do the following:

1. Get the drivetrain in good working order. Forget about aftermarket mods and that kind of stuff for now. Just put your money into the basics and make sure they work.

2. Have someone look at the rust -- and fix what you can. You're in California -- which is a semi-arid region -- so it's not like you're driving around in salt and snow. Start saving your dough for a complete redo, consisting of media blasting down to bare metal, later on.

3. If your car's outside a lot, get a cover for it. You don't want the UV rays from the sun cooking your interior while you're getting the drivetrain and exterior in shape.

Hope that helps.
 
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