Honestly a really good way to get fantastic lenses is shopping for quality vintage glass, I have had great luck with old nikkor pre-ai lenses. While i understand as you move up to an ai and the an ai-s lens versions, your sharpness and resolve will improve, but i find the character of the pre-ai lenses to be actually a nice added effect.
That said, there is an area where the lenses make sense; both in terms of functionality and price point.. meaning i would love to pick up an 85mm 1.4 Nikkor but honestly, at the price for it, i am just better off getting a modern canon or sigma that has auto-focus, for a few dollars more.
The lenses i have found useful and sit in the right range are the Nikkor 50mm f2, the Nikkor 135mm f3.5, and the Nikkor 80-200mm f4.5 n, I can use these with portrait soft box lighting (as you are usually at f8 anyway) and get some really nice photos.
I do rather enjoy the analog feel of manual focus on these, and its really nice to have something made of metal and glass, that is the same age you are! Perhaps i am a little too nostalgic, but its a great way to polish up on you focus abilities.