Wow, JohnF, what a find! For your neck of the woods, this first year model CJ-5 is in good shape. Rust is the main issue for Midwest and East Coast vehicles. You have a tremendous value here, some prized parts for rebuilding or restoration work. Great find!
When I found my '55 CJ-5 (featured in the Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual: 1946-71), it had been setting idle for decades with a minor amount of bare metal exposure—at Carson City, Nevada in the high, dry desert country. The Jeep had only minor surface rust, no exfoliation or rust perforation anywhere. I know this is nearly impossible for Eastern or even Midwest vehicles. My Jeep friends at Chrysler all come West to find rust-free vehicles for projects. They have sent me requests to look for vehicles in our region...
If the frame on your "new" '55 is intact, and it looks like a late '55-'56 frame or newer with the front spring anchors at the rear of the springs, would you consider a tub replacement and restoration or a "buildup" with this Jeep? Surely, you can sell the parts described, though intact the Jeep CJ does have cache and potential for either a restoration or a buildup. Would you attempt to restore this tub, addressing the rust perforation? If not, there are new steel tubs available.
In my experience with the F-head four, though a delight to restore and look at, the engine design is ancient technology and very poorly suited for highway use. For off-road use, however, the F-134 is a viable option. Frankly, for drivability, I'd be inclined to do a V-6 (3.8L Buick or 4.3L Vortec Chevy) swap, plenty of power for the light weight and short 81" wheelbase.
I would upgrade to Saginaw power steering with a slow-ratio (4:1 or slower) gear, big (stock diameter) steering wheel and one-piece tie rod in place of the bell crank and twin tie-rods. A front spring shackle reverse is a major gain, I got lucky with my '55, it came factory-built with the M38A1 frame—they had the anchors at the front end of the front springs. The earliest CJ-5s were built on this frame.
Interesting how these vehicles conjure up such "plans"! Always fun to find a Jeep like this one, JohnF—congratulations, and let us know where this goes! At the very least you have prime parts for trading or selling...