This is one of those questions that if you asked 100 people, you would get 90 different answers...
Having had Jeeps from war production Willys to late CJ's, I have to agree with the guys on the '86.
It needed a D-44 up front, instead of the D-30.
But finally got a D-44 back in the rear,
The Dana 300 Transfer case is the best thing you can get next to an Atlas II,
The 258 I-6 is a very reliable engine.
Like the guys say, The ignition from '78 on through '86 was much better than the previous versions.
My wish list is for a D-44 in the front,
A V-6 or V-8 engine,
Diesel engine would be nice!
Doing without that stupid Carter BBD carb and emissions 'computer' would have made a good improvement!
(Nothing like fuel injection!)
I'd say an '86 with 4.0L head with fuel injection and a front D-44, and maybe a T-18 trans would make a CJ just about as good as anyone could ask for!
Anyone have an EDUCATED opinion on what the toughest 5 speed manual would be?