That 'older boats are stronger' is mostly a misconception. Perhaps heavier but not necessarily stronger.
Either of the boats you mention would be fine, I'd agree with your preference to avoid the Vire engine. Others that might fit your budget would include the Ranger 28/29 (with the 29 the cruisier). A member here recently picked up a Newport 30, a reasonable coastal boat with some room, the Newport 28 is another candidate. Older C&C 27s are probably a nicer boat than the 26, but maybe no roomier.
Nowadays if you're willing to go into the '70s then 10K can get you a fair amount of boat. The key is to find a good one and do all the due diligence to avoid buying someone else's problem.
1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"
".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)