If you wanted an entry level machine back in the early 60’s and went to your local Singer dealer, they might have sold you a 328 for around $150.00 which was still a pretty good chunk of change back then.
These were an all metal workhorse that used cams to expand the stitch selection and 60 years later these machines are still working reliably and in our experience, rarely fail despite being abused and neglected. They will sew pretty much anything you can get under the foot.
Fast forward to 2022 and take a walk down to your local sewing shop and they will might sell you a decent quality, entry level machine like a Janome HD series for around $400.00, and while these new machines are a clamshell design they do have an internal metal frame to which everything else is attached. There will be a bunch of internal plastic parts but modern plastics tend to be very good and you should be able to use one of these machines for decades.
A vintage Kenmore from the 1970’s will still be a much better machine at a fraction of the cost… but anyways.
It is when you start looking at some of the economy models that you should really consider if you want to save a few hundred dollars, especially if you knew what was under that plastic clamshell.
This is a Brother CS4000, a computerized model which is very alike to the Brother CS6000i which sells for just under $400.00 in Canada. It came in for a new bobbin winder tyre as the one it had turned to goo.
Note the absence of any metal sub frame and how everything is attached to the external plastic shell… and don’t get me started on how much I hate plastic take up assemblies as these are a stressed part that cycle tens of thousands of times and will often fail.
It sews well but it’s 11 year old owner says it is possessed… I am sure that one day she will be coming to upgrade her machine and maybe we can hook her up with a nice vintage machine for much less that will last a lifetime, or three.
We sold a beautiful Singer 411G yesterday, in a beautiful cabinet for less than one would pay for a better quality entry level machine like the aforementioned Janome 3000 HD… the Singer 411G falls into the category of one of the best machines ever made.
I doubt that this machine will ever require anything beyond regular oiling / lubrication, and might need a new bobbin winder tyre in a few decades, and if you sew enough the brushes in the motor may need to be replaced after 40,000 – 50,000 hours of work. Singer built these with the expectation this machine would last a lifetime, or three.