I just hate when a 23 year old vehicle with over 200,000 miles does not perform like new.
I agree, although I think whoever owned the truck before he got it must've beat the snot out of it. I bought an '86 new, and for the most part, the only work it's needed is when parts wore out, such as the clutch, the water pump, and the usual maintenance things. Heck, the starter lasted for 24 years before it quit.
The only Achilles heel has been the ECM - rebuilt once and replaced once. I still have my truck, and I am in no hurry to buy another vehicle. If I do, it will be another Nissan.
I have a 1986 Nissan 4x4 5 speed with 240827 miles on it, and it has only had normal parts changed; ignition modules, coils, and now needs hubs. I'm going to go with Mile Marker manual lockers because they have the same warranty as Warren hubs (1 year). I love my truck, like I said 240827 miles, haven't even changed the starter. I love my truck. The only thing I am looking for is a way to lift it. I'm thinking about doing a SAS using Toyota running gear.
Well as a fellow mechanic and owner of 1986 2WD 4 cylinder (Z24 electro), I'm willing to say the issues and experiences you've had are your own fault for buying the truck in the condition it was in, and not expecting issues.
I run my truck hard (it's a truck, it's made to work hard) and perform normal repairs as age and wear demands, and my truck runs beautifully. It's over 20 years old with well over 500000 miles, and I wouldn't replace it with anything other than another Nissan D21. It has outlasted a 2005 Ford F150 I bought brand new with only 3 miles from my test drive.
In my opinion, you bought the truck after it was beat to death, and you should take that into high consideration before degrading a marvelous brand and model truck for issues that are bound to follow buying a beat vehicle. It's not the truck's fault you had a bad experience, it's the previous owners and your own fault for buying it in such rotten condition.