The days of affordability or reasonable prices on everything is long gone. I do what I can to support my LHS & Hobby lobby to an extent of reasonable prices. Ebay is my last resort (Out of production kits are a different story), shipping cost's usually kills any good deals one may find from time to time.
Wish'n you the best highway. LMAO I yanked a flat bed for 14.5 years in rain, ice, snow, sleet & heat and wind. Still in the arm chair myself nothing out there worth the time anymore with the hours of service garbage they shoved down our throats. Hang in there brother! Were pull'n for ya!
I buy them with full intent to enjoy building them. I often buy multiples of the same kit for parts & other build notions. With the way some kits end up on the MFG "short runs" I buy them while I can to avoid the high collectors prices on ebay.
Styrene sheet and properly placed half round stock could replicate the side panels. 1:1 they wasn't one complete sheet as they are panels. Add some Rivets . Available in sheet decal form from Micro mark and that issue solved. Just time & patience.