In the 70's, 80's and 90's, when I was sailing regularly, I had fallen in love with Swans. Most of the knowledge I gained about boats back then was from Sail Magazine and anything I could get my hands on about the racers and the racing circuit. Now, I'm much more a cruiser, though I have no problem going fast.
In the mid 90's I bought the book, "The World's Best Sailboats: A Survey" by Ferenc Maté. That's when I learned about what Maté considers the finest sailing boats made. Interestingly enough, he listed Beneteau in that book and cited the fact that, at least at the time, they used the same method for constructing their fiberglass hulls as did Swan. If I remember right, no other manufacturers used this method. Don't ask me. I can't remember what it was.
I lent that book out years ago but never got it back. I do remember scouring through it many times when I had it. It would be nice to have something like that for reference but it would have to be a bit more like "Best Sailboats For The Liveaboard"
I've read every reply thus far and it sounds like there's a good many older boat owners who are happy they bought an older boat. And, from what I've read, there's nothing telling me I would be getting in over my head by doing the same. I just need a better education of the boats out there that should be on my list. I think I also need to put that list in writing.