Absolutely an amazing little truck. I picked mine up for 200 bucks from a farmer who had it as his first truck. The truck had seen better days to say the least, but with some paint and tires, I was off and running. Absolutely no work was done to the motor after the farmer leaving it to rot in a field for two years. And in 20k it has yet to leave me stranded. So I have to give it high marks in the reliability market. It's 26 years old and carb'd; the fact that it's still running says it all.
I will say this is perhaps the slowest vehicle that many of you will ever drive. Zero to sixty time in my S10 with a five speed and 235r tires is about 12 seconds... sad. That said, it does have plenty of power on tap for average use and some hard work. I haul a fairly large pickup camper in mine, and the little truck does reasonably well. I've also pulled boats and trailers with no problems. Some freed up exhaust and a K&N filter are suggested.
For off-roading, you would be hard pressed to find a more affordable machine. This little truck goes through more than a lot of the fullsizes it runs with here in MN, and has yet to break a single thing out on rough trails. Rarely have I ever used the 4x4 on my machine; 2wd handles everything short of wheel deep snow.
Running costs. The reason I give this little beast such a high rating is simply because you won't have to put too much into it for parts; it will simply run and run as long as you need it to.
Gas mileage varies pretty drastically depending on how you drive, where you drive, and what you drive on. If you leave the stock tires on (looks wimpy and won't handle trails as nice), I was able to pull 22-23 mpg out of mine driving pretty normally. Putting the 235 tires on brings that down to 19-20 driving normal, and 17-19 driving trails with a reasonable light foot. The K&N and exhaust can vary these numbers greatly as well. But mostly it depends how you drive your 2.8.
All in all, you can't beat this little truck if you simply need a 4x4 for commuting or for a toy, or if you just need a reliable vehicle that can be found on the cheap.
Oh, and I would suggest a TBI year if you have the choice, carbs are an acquired taste I think haha.