Welcome to the AACA Forums. Not an expert -- but I'll take a try at your questions about restorations. That word reminds me of my dad's best Army buddy Ralph, after getting a doctorate in mine engineering. He said "ore" is the most misunderstood word in mining: it can mean anything.
A couple of good things to start off wit. Your father restored a T-Bird; your wife wants you to do it; and you get that a resto can be done that is extreme. A. extremely over-restored B. extremely incorrect C. extremely shoddy D. extremely ugly...even if it was good mechanically & cosmetically, who wants to see a fluorescent orange 1960 Edsel with polka dots and a spoiler? E. extremely expensive
Did you just hear about the 1955 Thunderbird restoration, see him working on it, spend hours with him on it? WWYDS = What Would Your Dad Say about the wisdom of restoring an old car? Your spouse "wants us to start a project car" is not just good -- it's great! On the extreme thing, it shows you have some common sense.
Do you already have a 1949 Chevrolet, or are you just thinking about something like that? A car like the one in the video Rusty showcased would be a very good start. That one may have cost a bit, though. Actually runs, not a rustbucket, and not a trendy model.
what is typical budget...I don't know. You came up with some figures, and I have no way of knowing what you can do with the people and things you know. If you are a gifted artisan re: upholstery, paint & body, and mechanics or have access to people who are..........maybe the low end of the $30,000-$300,000 scale. It sounds like you want to participate in the restoration, not send it out to a restoration shop. You could ask some of the people on here who actually are restoration pros what they see re: the latter. Growing into some of those fields out of necessity could happen, also.
length of time needed...I don't know the specifics of the project. I'm not a mechanic.
amount of tools needed...Open-ended, like asking how much golf costs.
likelihood of recouping cost...back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, there used to be a formula where you bought an antique car, paid a shop to fix it up, and subtracted those two figures from what you sold the shiny restored car for, to arrive at your profit. Back when beer was a nickel at the baseball stadium. They used to say a new cabin cruiser costs $100 a foot, too(Ha!). On the other hand, if you restored a car, it may have some intrinsic value greater than the "sinking investment" of a new car. There are some people on the forums here w/ a lifetime of experience who can go to an obscure auction and say "That's a piece of junk", "That's priced right", "Jeez --- mortgage your house, that's worth 5x what the bidding is", etcetera. Latch onto one of them, or join a car club.
likelihood of selling a '49 Styleline Deluxe after a restoration fast...I don't know.
any extra info...Sorry if I sound discouraging, but I would prefer realistic answers if I were in your position. It's neat you both are interested in working on an antique car, and too easy to say bah humbug. It is possible to turn a 5th rate car into a a 1st-rate one...but as some will tell you, it's way better to try to turn a Condition #3 into a Condition #2. If a rebuild kit is $350, does that mean one of you has rebuilt a 1940s engine, or were you going to send it out to a re building shop? Not knowing your situation, you may have that under control.
Back in the 50s and 60s, I've heard, military personnel could have their personal cars shipped from duty station to duty station nearly free. My dad did that w/ a '47 Nash: Kansas>Yokohama>Kansas. In the 1950s. Is that still possible?
Wild idea #314: Do you have away-time & an interest in seeing Alberta? Look up the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin*. Once a year they have 5 days of classes in museum-quality antique automobile restoration. It is more of an overview than a thorough shop course of study like McPherson College(4-yr degree in restoration)**. Biggest vehicle museum in the country. About 350 cars & trucks + aircraft & tractors. Two 100,000 sq ft buildings and one of 30,000 sq ft. Even if you don't take any classes -- it's still worth seeing -- IMO.
*The transportation museum in Canada: https://reynoldsmuseum.ca
**McPherson College is in Kansas