I never said you had to build a monster. I only suggested why spend more to have less? a 350 with few mods will do everything you want it to do plus knock off good mileage. As for the toting the wheels, I think you`ll be rather hard pressed to get any of us to believe it as there are no telling how many members on this board now and most of us have built hot rods with big and small blocks making over 400 horsepower plus shooting it with 200 horses or more of nitrous and we couldn`t pull the wheels.
And your telling us a stock 283 did it? I`m not saying it didn`t, but it sure didn`t in stock form and it didn`t on the street on regular tires.
If you want a middle of the road engine that will smoke the 350 262 combo you have in mind then all you need is a 327. You can build one of these with a 307 crank and a 350 block. Using standard 5.7 rods you can use regular off the shelf 327 pistons and it won`t cost you a arm and a leg as you won`t need custom parts. You don`t have to make it a monster, build it stock and it will do fine for your wife`s purposes. Do what you want, it makes no difference to me what`s so ever, it`s your time, your money. I`m only telling you why blow more cash for less engine when you can put that cash towards other improvements.