I recently bought my first DSLR and made the decision to spend a similar amount on the lens as on the body, on the basis that the lens is where the optics are, and I would guess that changing the optics make a much greater difference to image quality than changing the sensor. Camera reviews seemed to implicitly confirm this suspicion, because they seem to focus much more on features than on image quality, and when they do discuss image quality it mostly seems like a review of the kit lens rather than the body itself, at least in the case of the entry level DSLRs I was looking at.
But now I'm curious: what effect does the body have on image quality? I'm not asking so much about things like APS-C vs. full-frame, in-body image stabilisation, ISO range or resolution; things like that have well-defined effects that can easily be compared "on paper". I'm asking more about whether the body imparts any of its own special character to images in the same way that lenses do. In other words, can two bodies with similar specs differ in the quality of image they can produce with the same lens? I'm asking mostly from curiosity, but it would be a useful thing to know if I'm choosing a camera again.