This does not look like a bad lathe at all. I paid $1000 for mine and it came with a 3-jaw and 4-jaw chuck, a bunch of cutting bits, and other odds and ends.
I believe pretty much any machine tool can be converted to CNC. The question is how much time and money do you want to throw at it. The big problem with this lathe is that there is not a ready made bolt-on kit for the mk3a. Check out these two threads that I have going on my on-going quest to CNC mine:
http://www.cnczone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=90408 (CNCing an older lathe)
If you go with brand new parts, expect to spend a small fortune in CNCing it. If you shop around for used, you can save a considerable sum. But finding what works and what doesn't takes a lot of research. The board here has been some amazing help and if you follow my threads, it should save you some time.
The only thing that I don't like about the mk3a is that the spindle only tops out at about 800 rpm. My little 7x14 topped out at about double that. I found it easier to get smoother finishes at the higher speed.
I should also note that depending on what you are doing, there is really not anything wrong with the imports. In fact, in some ways, since you want to CNC a lathe, the import is a better way to go since there is already a ton of info on converting them to CNC (especially the 9x20). Keep that in mind too. CNCing the mk3a is going to take a lot of work. If you are new to lathes, I would definately study up on CNC and run your lathe in manual mode for awhile. My original goal was to restore mine, but finding parts for these are next to impossible. I've been searching for almost two years for a original motor mount and the countershaft assembly. Once I get this CNCd, the parts left over from the original lathe should pay for a good portion of the conversion.