Hey Midman, I owned one of those CJ-5s twenty years ago as well, and I just bought a 2010 two door Rubicon a few weeks ago. My Rubicon is in the shop right now getting its first mods done.
From what I have been able to gather there are just a few weaknesses on the current JK that can use improvement.
1. The evap canister is vulnerable and puts your Jeep in limp home mode if it is damaged.
2. The front axle tube is prone to bending, and the steering knuckle can also be bent easily.
3. The ball joints will fail quickly. My friend just replaced his lower ball joints with only 7000 miles on his Rubicon.
4. The 1/2 circle style c-clip on the front axle u-joint will work its way off, then the cap will come off, the u-joint will bind, and the ears on the axle will break.
If money is limited I would start with an evap canister relocation bracket, or if you prefer, an evap canister skid plate. Once that is done I would go with a 2.5" to 3" lift, and step up to the 35" tires. Your Jeep is geared too tall for the 32" tires it has now, so you'll definitely need to re-gear the differentials when you get 35" tires. At that point I would make the necessary front axle improvements. You can either gusset the front axle housing with one of several kits that are available, or you can replace the housing with a Dynatrac housing. I would save the bumper and rocker panel guards for last. Anyway, thats my 2 cents worth. Have fun with that new Jeep!
2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon; 35s - no lift, Warn 9.5 XP-S, ARB Twin Air, SPOD
2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk (wife's Jeep)
2016 Ram Laramie 3500 Megacab 4x4; 6.7 CTD, Aisen, AEV Prospector conversion; 37s, 4.10s, Warn 16.5K