I have fully automatic cameras and I have manual cameras. While I could live without the autos, I'd find it hard to survive without the clunkers. If there is a sweet spot it may be the Canon AV-1, a model I remember ranting against when it first came out. Aperture priority only, but with a big doughnut override in half stop increments. No push buttons, no LCDs, just a crank handle, a twist focus lens and that can't-miss compensation dial.

On the subject of prices, I bought three (!) mint Minolta AF bodies from the 90s for 17 total. They're so light that if it weren't for the fact they produce pictures I'd swear the things were empty display models. That's an SLR camera for the price of a film. Absolutely crazy.