Sounds like it was quite a nice truck
Too bad your neighbor had it stolen
It also sounds a little unusual . . . I've never seen an extended cab S10 with a long bed
I happen to think S10s aren't bad trucks, for what they are. One of the weaknesses, IMO, is that the suspension and steering seems to wear out quite fast, especially those upper a-arm bushings. And let's not forget the rather weak door hinge/bushing design and the seatback release mechanism, which was potmetal. But every vehicle has its particular set of weaknesses and strengths.
As far as I'm concerned, 4.3 V6 and the automatic are the only way to go. The 4 banger option always seemed a little gutless, especially if there was actually something in the bed, such as a toolbox