JK's are amazing, IMO. So much so that many of us buy older vehicles to DD and drive while our newer model JK's eclipse the point of "toy" status.
Anyway- low mile motors from the likes of Motech go for 1,200-1,500 minus shipping... and that is for motors with sometimes as little as 80 miles. So the myth that you can replace the v6 for the cost of a swap is "forum fodder".
I know this because I have tried to do the swap with the same budget that a shop done 3.8 replacement would cost- and ended up with another 3.8L. Now I am getting into a 5.3L swap, and even with trying to cut corners with a carb'd setup (dont) you still are not going to get under $5k going with a reputable and established (MoTech) conversion shop for a DYI kit centered around the LS.
An 80 to 80k mile motor, with accessories, for $1,500 is a solid option IMO.
Soon to be a vendor!!!
Looking for a good Rat Rod JK donor vehicle.