There are numerous trends swirling in the used farm equipment market these days. From my vantage point, none is more pronounced than what I call the new collector tractor.
I’m referring to elite condition original or restored tractors from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s. These 40- to 50-year old tractors don’t seem all that old. Kind of like ourselves, I suppose. Am I really 48?
Lot of folks around my age grew up learning how to drive an International 1206 with Dad or Grandpa as their instructor. Or, maybe your first tractor memories involve a 20 Series or early 30 Series John Deere model.
With a few profitable years under your belt and your children all grown up, you might be thinking, "Wouldn’t it be fun if I had a nice International 1206 or John Deere 2520?" Before long, you read about an upcoming auction with a gem for sale.
Your emotions mingle with your money, and you find yourself at that auction. You wind up bidding against four other folks in your shoes, and the tractor sells for an eye-popping price.
This Massey Ferguson 165 with 2,026 hours sold for $13,500 at a sale in Saskatchewan, Canada.
At a 2012 St. Patrick’s Day farm auction in Iowa, this Oliver 2255 with 4,844 hours sold for $28,500.
For instance, a restored 1966 International 1206 with 3,696 hours sold for a record $32,250 at a Sept. 6, 2008, auction in west-central Iowa. That’s the same year this trend started to take shape, and it’s no coincidence that’s when farm income starting shooting higher.
Unique sale triggers. Shiny chrome stacks seem to be the latest drool-inducing feature enticing more bids. For example, a restored 1972 International 1468 with 3,869 hours sold for $31,500 at a July 14, 2012, auction in northwest Iowa. That tractor held the record-high price until Sept. 26, 2013, when an International 1468 sold for $34,250 in northwest Ohio.
Maybe it was the V8 engine that caught the bidder’s eye? That seemed to be the case on a restored 1974 International 1568 with 2,600 hours that sold for $41,500 at a Nov. 2, 2013, collector auction in east-central Iowa.
It seems like bidders tend to gravitate toward models such as the 1468 and 1568 that maybe weren’t so popular at the time or were manufactured in limited quantities.
The John Deere 4000 was only made from 1969 to 1972 and at the time was thought to be a stripped-down version of the 4020. More than 40 years later, the 4000s are red hot. You wouldn’t believe how many calls, e-mails and Facebook messages I got after a 1971 John Deere 4000 with 5,562 hours sold for $35,000 at a Dec. 18, 2012, farm auction in northeast Iowa. On the "YouTube" video of it selling, you can almost hear the crowd gasping for air as the bids slide past $30,000.
It’s pretty amazing how big of a leap some of these tractors can take over the previous record holder. A 1971 Massey Ferguson 165 with 2,026 hours sold for $13,500 at an April 26, 2013, farm auction in east-central Saskatchewan, Canada. The former high price on a 165 without a loader, which held the top spot for 17 years, was $5,500.
These new collector tractors don’t even have to be in the greatest condition to garner impressive sale prices. A International 1026 with 5,900 hours sold for $17,000 at an Oct. 26, 2013, auction in southeast Pennsylvania. It was listed in "fair" condition, but it was a "Gold Demonstrator" model, meaning it had been painted red years ago, but the original gold paint and decals were found under the red paint.
Even though a 1977 John Deere 6030 with 5,703 hours had shifting problems, it sold at an April 5, 2013, auction in west-central Illinois for $24,000.
While the price tags are impressive, it’s the emotional connection that I’m most drawn to. I specifically remember the St. Patrick’s Day farm auction in northeast Iowa in 2012 when a sweet 1973 Oliver 2255 front-wheel assist tractor with 4,844 hours sold for $28,500, a new high. I wrote about the tractor on my blog the next day and received an e-mail from the son of the man whose estate auction I had just attended. He said: "Pete, I made it through sale day yesterday with no problems, but when I read your blog this morning, I started crying. My dad was known locally as Mr. Oliver."
- February 2014