Originally Posted by stark_674
This is an old thread but I will respond to it anyway.
If I wanted a mechanical “jewel,” I would buy a Leica MP. However, the budgetary constraint excludes this suggestion.
Some of the mechanical cameras I have used and loved over the years are listed below in no particular order.
Leica M1 35mm (no rangefinder and no built-in light meter)
Nikon F 35mm SLR with a standard meterless prism
Nikon F2 35mm SLR with a standard meterless prism or meterless action finder
Nikon F2T 35mm SLR with a standard meterless prism
Argus C3 35mm rangefinder
Minolta Hi-Matic 9 35mm rangefinder (has a built-in light meter)
Canon QL17 GIII 35mm rangefinder (has a built-in light meter)
Pentax Spotmatic 35mm SLR (has a built-in light meter)
Fujica ST705 35mm SLR (has a built-in light meter)
Mamiya C3 6x6cm medium format
Mamiya C22 6x6cm medium format
Mamiya C220 6x6cm medium format
Fuji 6x7cm medium format rangefinder
Fuji 6x9cm medium format rangefinder
Graflex 4x5 inch view
If I had to pick only one that met the budgetary constraint, I would pick the Nikon F2.