but wasent it a recall?.. i would think if it was most of the 96's out there would have it donenode said:NO,
Get a 97 or later since the early 96 engines had head gasket issues. If you are building the engine then that doesent even matter since you will be putting in good quality parts.
As for the 98+ ECU, The maps are different and the 98 ECU is known to handle a supercharger better than the 96 and 97 ECUs. Drive by wire would be kinda neat if you are just planning on some mild mods. The long cable in the 2 IMO makes the throttle a little numb compaired to other FR cars I own. If you are going EMS then you can snag a regular cable throttle from whereever you wish.