Photo: Airwolfhound (Wikimedia Commons)

The North American F-86 Sabre, the iconic jet fighter of the free world, with 9,860 units built and 45 years of active service. Yet, like the countless Volkswagen Type IIs that were built in the same era, the used market is wilder than MiG Alley.

Not even John Glenn could fix the used Sabre market
Photo: John Glenn Archives, The Ohio State University (John Glenn Archives, Ohio State University)

Consider this project currently on Trade-a-Plane for $195,000; alternative listing here. It comes with a fuselage, turbine, wings, wings, flight control surfaces, and racks of parts (no word on if the sweet Dodge Ram dually is included). It even comes with drop tanks, in case you need the extra range to make the pancake fly-in and not have to buy their fuel.

One hundred ninety five kays is a lot of scratch for an old jet when the Soviet planes exist, but no one else at the air park will have a Sabre. Yet all those bones are just the beginning. You have to complete the project, and you know Boeing won’t help. Then, you have to make good friends with the local FSDO, and likely keep the large Experimental label. Then there’s insurance (whistles)!

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But for only $230,000 more, you can avoid all this and buy a Sabre that actually works. No assembly required, no awkward calls with Boeing interns, someone will insure it, and at least one FSDO doesn’t think it’s a suicide machine. You only have to worry about the gaudy paint job, but depreciation helps you here.

“But it’s over twice the price!” you say. Of course it’s over twice the price; it’s a complete vehicle! It’s not on blocks like some F0x Body, you can fly it home today! And seriously ask yourself, go find a mirror and say this out loud, “I can restore a 65 year old fighter jet without manufacturer support for less than $230,000.” Do you believe that statement? Do you?

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Either the project Sabre is freakishly expensive, or the complete Sabre is absurdly good value. Which is it, Oppo?