Welcome to the MB world. I'm an old FE engine fan as well. I built a few crossbolted main FE's in the early 70's. They were one of Detroit's best kept secrets.
I too was impressed with the first MB engine I ever tore apart which was similar to yours. It was a '68 230 with a manual transmission.
Tell you what, the guy who wanted $9,500 was definitely a little high. Since you're a fellow FE Ford guy I'll do it for $9,450.<g>
Seriously though, if you can build an FE, you can for sure build one of these engines. There are some things to watch for in an FE engine. If you're not into building your own shortblock, I'll bet you could ship the components that you want to farm out to Steve and come out with a reasonable price and just as good of an engine as you could get from any of the engine rebuilders that specialize in these engines.
I'll bet you will enjoy this project and the results.