I've wanted a 26" project bike for over a year now and I've narrowed down what I prefer. I'm looking for an 80's or 90's cro-moly MTB model that is plentiful enough that I can get one relatively inexpensively. I want it to be able to easily take modern components (drivetrain & brakes) and I prefer a sportier geometry over super relaxed geometry. The template I'm looking at is based on a 56cm Rivendell Atlantis. I want a close to level top tube and clearance for Schwalbe Big Apples. I'll probably put drop bars on it as well as I've been drooling over the drop-bar conversion thread for over a year. I also prefer the oversized tubing look to the thinner diameter tubes.
The Bridgestone XO-1 is also a decent template but I'm a clyde and want a little stouter bike.
If I find a good project bike and the concept works for me, I'll consider it for the custom frame I hope to have built in the next few years.
What would be some good candidates? I'm familiar with the 90's Treks but beyond that, I don't know a whole lot.
My current dream bike: