Mild 400 build

I have my father's 75 ford LTD with a 400 2V that he bought new. In his day he was a good shade tree mechanic but this beast got the best
of him when a small under the hood fire took out some of the wiring. It has been setting that way for the last ten years. After my father passed away they were going to have the car towed away but I said I would take it hoping someday to take a shot at fixing it. That never happened since I spent all my spare money at the time on restoring an old Case tractor. My nephew wants the car now and I agreed with his father to get her running again. We have budgeted $1500 for the low mileage engine. My Dad had the forethought and bought a set of Ford shop manuals for the 75 the year he bought the car so that helps.
I know the old electronic control was part of the fire so it is gone. I also found out cars built before 1980 do not have to be emission tested so that gives me some flexibility.
I want to mildly increase the power and increase fuel mileage as much as practical and hope to do ii without the smog stuff of those days. This will be a daily driver on 87 octane and I don't want to give the young man too much horsepower.
After a couple of days searching and reading everything I could find on the 400 2V I have the thought that going with the flat top pistons like the 71 motor would give me the 9:1 CR and a good idling cam might do the trick while keeping the heads and OEM carb if that is practical.
Any advice would greatly be appreciated.
As a side note, on a 75 LTD can I pull the engine and transmission at the same time with a low budget engine puller like one from Sam's?
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