I'm new to the M35 arena and am researching on which is the better way to go - A2 or A3. Up until a few days ago, I didn't even know there were different A2 or A3 models.
Having read several threads regarding this debate, one thing seems to be strikingly appearent - it is an issue of the haves vs. the have nots. Those with the cash prefer the A3, those without the A2's. I did not find one A3 owner regretting their purchase saying they wish they had bought the A2. The same goes for those who own, or have owned, both; they all have said the A3 is their perferred overall truck, except for maybe highway driving - though they enjoy driving both. These are the people whose opinon I respect and value the most. Yes, I am sure there are those dual owners who don't like the A3, I just haven't run across any.
By far, the biggest arguements for the A2 are that it is cheap to buy and that the parts are plentiful/cheap (which are valid) - and, oh, that it looks cooler (not so valid). Obviously, the A3's are the more expensive purchase. Yet given the required A2 upgrades in which to make it safer and more driver friendly (i.e.: more like the A3), the costs in the long run are very comparable, if not the A2 being more expensive.
Being a Jeep and Willys guy for over 30 years, I've come to the realization that, while they certainly look cool and and have character, the old Jeeps and Willys suck to drive. They're underpowered, uncomfortable, loud, handle and stop like crap, and are cold in the winter. But, they're cheap and I love 'em. However, that being said, I also spend thousands upgrading engines, steering, drivetrain, brakes, and suspensions (and on the resulting headaches) to make them feasible daily drivers in the real world. Fact is, on a daily, year round basis, I much rather drive a new JK Rubicon than a '54 M38A1.
From what I'm reading, the A2's fit into that "cool with character" camp, where as the A3's fit more into the real world daily driver camp. Guess it comes down for what one is using the truck. A2's seem to make better farm/ranch vehicles, while the A3's better daily drivers. I'm leaning towards the A3.