I am older and grew up using a Shakespeare 1810 reel. Over the years I have tried different reel types but I still go back to that type I grew up with. Funny thing is I now own about a half dozen different models from not only Shakespeare but South Bend too. Note I am not a collector, I fish these reels.
As far as why? One thing set up right they are perfectly balanced and the line naturally lays across your finger so you can feel everything that your bait does. They never backlash and you can cast into the wind without issue. But all that is probably rationalization, I just like fishing them.
If I could get new new version of these reels I would, some I am using were manufactured in the 1950s although they are holding up strong. Plus if you watch you can get them on eBay cheap. I just picked up numbers 6 and 7 for less than $20 including shipping.
The hard part is getting rods that will work with the reels oddly enough. Vintage rods scare me a bit, I have three, but while glass doesn't fatigue, the 60 year old resin systems do. I have retired them and have started buying new spinning rods and replacing the grips. Plus you can't get a medium or medium heavy that fit. I just finished my 3rd and have three more coming in to work over the winter.
I have to say that its been gratifying to catch fish on my modified rods and old reels.
Below are excerts from some of the old manuals and picture of my gear if I can make it small enough (Mods how about increasing the picture size limit? Everyone's cells have good cameras now). Oh I replaced the bad handles, the 50s era ones have bakelite that falls apart of you look at it wrong