I happen to have a Chief (for sale) & a T-Crate I just rebuilt.
Contrary to above post Chief's are faster (marginally) than Champs (acknowledged on Areonca site-those guys would know). Marginally is the key, Chief-Champ are 80-85mph cruise planes. Mine operates out of a 1100' strip with 50' tree's at about the 1300' mark with two people (350lbs) & full header tank (12gl). I average about 3.5gl per/hr. Chief's are very under appreciated planes, built light they perform very well short field. They are not mountain planes but what 65hp is @ 3.5gl per hr burn
They are much easier to get in & out of than my T-Crate & MUCH more leg room once inside. All the taildraggers are rudder planes, something that takes a little getting used to, but my Chief is a joy to fly! I have actually been thinkin seriously about selling Crate & keeping Chief to recover. Biggest downfall of Areonca's in general is Oleo landing gear. If it's in good shape no problem, rebuilding a set takes more time & $$ than most other landing gear systems.
Terry-I would recommend a good Chief any day, annuals will be 1/2 your 172 price or less, 1/3 your fuel burn, maintainance is basically oil changes. Best go try one on for size, none of those old birds really fit bigger people, I'm 6' & would think that's about the limit in most old birds with the Chief capable of handling the taller guys. Width is a problem on all of them
I think about 42" is average cabin width. Champs have a certain appeal if your a "window" guy, but center of gravity is much more consistant with SxS seating birds, tandoms tend to load the tailwheel much more when two-up, to each to their own.
Hope that helps