I haven't had a classic but I have an ECCO (got it for $50 new) it isn't supposed to be ehiems best, but they are still good.
Classics are really good, there is no way that the water can pass the media. Also as stated, there aren't very many features on it, which is a benefit since they limit what can break, and it doesn't happen very much. They will run and run, forever! There is a reason why they havemt changed the design for hard and people still buy them, they are probably one of the best filter.
I do however, plan to buy a 2217 for a 34 gallon tank I am planning to put together.