Just like anything you really want to keep, you have to look around and will necessarily discard a few that you find that look good but have issues. There are more than a few scammers, but you are taking the right steps here to get it right. You're smart to ask the questions about the title and paperwork, and you either have to come here to see it yourself or have a reputable source go look at the car and photograph it for you. Even better would be someone standing with the car while you're on the phone, so you can run down your list of questions.Just an update on my search for a nova, this is turning out a lot more difficult than I initially thought.
One of the cars I found was in California it was a 73 hatchback with the original engine. The seller said the car was his grandfathers and he gave me his word the title was in his name and the photo showed around 46000 miles on the odometer.
Turns out the title was not in his name and the milage was 84000 back in 1994. When confronted he said the title was in his grandad's name(who did not even share his surname) and he said they (the DMV) made a mistake on the title regarding the milage.
Another car I found seemed like a good deal 73 hatch with a 307 sbc for 5000$. the seller was highly suspicious of me since i'm not American. After weeks of back and forth and me sending him a copy of my ID card he agreed to send me a photo of his name on the title. I need this photo as proof of ownership before I send payment, I thought this was a reasonable request. In the end he avoided showing me his name on the title by saying he was waiting for the title in the mail, family reunions etc. Out of the blue I get an automated message saying the car has just been sold.
So far I have dealt with a few scammers and people who refuse to deal with anyone outside of the usa.. it's frustrating but I guess it's also to be expected.
I'm still going to keep looking even though it's difficult given the logistics and the small budget I have : (6000$ For the car) (3000$ for the shipping) and (3780$ for the Registration tax) 13k total is as far as I can go.
I buy cars for particular clients for a living, and have looked at many cars over the years. You'll encounter tons of different scams and owners, so it's always different. Sometimes the owner has a problem with you for some reason (in this case your geography!), so sending a local guy to look at the car, see the title in person and verify condition per your criteria is a good idea. Just remember you have to encounter a few discards before finding the right purchase. It's a process.