New Bike Project: GT Tequesta - my steel-based cross-country gravel adventure conversion

The day I bought my GT, it looked sad. An abandoned project with a botched paint job and ill fitted mudguards like so many old bikes you find on local ads, craigslist and ebay. They have been forgotten for years, but now is the time to clean up and empty the courtyards, cellars, sheds, garages and barns. Among these unwanted bikes are a lot of MTBs of the 80s and 90s. I want to tell you why these mostly steel mountain bikes are hidden gems.
I am not talking about restoring such bikes to original condition because that is a special hobby. Even rare vintage bikes in mint condition seldomly are worth a lot of money.
My point is that especially the steel versions of the mid 90s are a great basis for converting them to modern gravel, bikepacking MTB hybrids. The geometries of these bikes are much more road race bike and therefore "gravel" than modern MTB. Which is why real mountain bikers ignore them unless they are into retrobikes for mostly nostalgic reasons.
The 80s and 90s MTBs are a great basis for a gravel bike, they offer huge space for big lightweight tires. You can fit modern components, significantly lighten them and adjust to contemporary ergonomics... et voilĂ . 
Consider this. A modern gravel bike easily costs you 1,000 dollars, pounds or Euros. Yes, you can get bikes for less, but not for much less. However, as soon as you start customising and improving your bike, you quickly end up spending much, much more.
Why not starting with an old MTB and customise and update it right away, step by step. You will then learn a lot about bikes, your preferences and you improve your skills. Once you got everything running, don't hesitate to get another bike and swap your components from the previous build. That is what I have done.