The Bernina Record 830!
I was browsing the ads from Sewitsforsale website, and there it was! I immediately contacted the seller and negotiated a layaway plan!
It is a fully mechanical machine and tough as nails. I have about 9 different style feet for the machine!
I've always felt that if there were such a thing as a Sewing Machine Hall Of Fame, this would be one of the first three machines inducted!
There's no one special feature that puts this machine in the classic category -- it's the combination of everything. This is one of those occasional happy manufacturing happenstances where simply everything about the product came out right -- kind of like a '57 Chevrolet.
You won't find loads of fancy features -- this machine is at best 30 years old -- but you will find beautiful stitch quality (21 built-in stitches), all the power you need (salespeople used to sew wooden rulers as a demo!), long-lasting quality (30 plus years old and still going strong), and a fanatical user base. I believe the demand for this machine is even stronger today than it was when it was first introduced.
BTW, the stitches are selected using a lever the Bernina 830 has an internal camstack does not use removable cams.
This mechanical machine offers a five-step buttonhole (basically a four step with an extra reinforcing stitch) and adjustable stitch width and length (up to 4mm each direction). It offers a knee-bar lift mechanism that will lift the sewing foot. If you're going to use this feature, you'll do best if you retrain yourself to use your left foot for the foot pedal and your right knee for lifting. Sounds screwy, but doesn't take much practice to get accustomed to.
The high demand for these machines keeps the prices high -- figure $400 or so would be a good price nowadays. Parts are no problem -- this is a widely used, popular machine -- its what I paid. You can download manuals from Bernina posted in their downloads area.
This machine uses Bernina's "old-style" bayonet mount feet. These are a little lower than the new-style -- but are just as easy to find. the feet! You've heard about the feet, right? They are AMAZING because they actually do what they're designed for. I never made a rolled hem in all my life, but with a Bernina foot my garments look like they'd been professionally finished. I can't say enough good things about the Bernina feet.