Hughes 26 Pros and cons
The Hughes 26 started life as the S&S designed Northstar 500. I actually owned a 500 for a while. The 500 was an IOR race boat and as such was a good boat in its day. Its day came and went quite quickly when boats like the J-24 came along. These newer boats were much faster and easier to sail.
The 26 had a retooled deck, keel and interior. They weighted a far amount more than the lighter 500. The 500''s were quite weight sensitive so I suspect that the 26 would not have as nice sailing characteristics as the 500''s.
Hughes built a solid boat that was well detailed. As to the saildrive, I believe these the OMC units and they were not too great once they got some age on them. OMC apparently just went out of business. Taking a sail drive out of the boat is not extremely difficult but it is not a walk in the park either. You need to remove the engine, lower unit, fuel tank and filler. There will be a rather large hole in the boat that will need to be repaired. The general rule of thumb is to grind out a large enough area to get good adhesion. The rule of thumb is that the taper should be 8 to 1 (in other words if you hull is 1/2" thick the taper on each side would be 4 inches. (This taper is often quoted as small as 4:1 and as large as 12:1) The build up glass and epoxy until you have filled the hole to the surface. Fair the patch and apply a barrier coat of epoxy.
You then have to remove and repair the hole for the controls or adapt them to an outboard. Then you need to beef up the transom to take the thrust of an outboard and build a sealed fuel tank locker. Then you need to bolt on an outboard motor bracket and if it is electric start run new primary cables to the outboard.
So like I said, its not that hard but its certainly a bigger task than I would prefer doing if I had a choice.