Machinery Pete: Tractors Tear Up Records

November 8, 2013 06:58 PM
Machinery Pete: Tractors Tear Up Records

On Dec. 7, 2007, a 1995 Case IH 7220 with 1,830 hours started a trend that’s still hot today. The then 12-year old tractor quickly became a crowd favorite at a farm retirement auction in east-central Illinois. As the bids encouraged the price higher, auctioneer Matt Moss with Moss Auction said the crowd was mesmerized by what was happening. When the gavel fell at $70,000, the crowd broke into applause. Off to the side, the retiring farmer-owner wept tears of joy, seeing the excitement around his tractor.

Since then, trying to count the number of new record-high auction sale prices on good used tractors 10 years and older has been futile. I’m not sure I could count that high.

To scrape the surface of the trend, let’s focus on the Case IH Magnum Series, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. As the horsepower builds, the momentum follows.

Until late 2012, the highest auction sale price I’d seen on a two-wheel-drive Case IH 8920 stood at $63,000. At a Nov. 24, 2012, farm auction in northwest Illinois, a 1998 model with
3,106 hours in excellent condition sold for $69,500, a hefty $6,500 bump compared with the previous record-high sale price.

That record only lasted 3½ months. At a March 9, 2013, farm auction in west-central Michigan, a Case IH 8920 with 1,824 hours sold for $71,000. Then one month and one day later at a consignment auction in northeast Texas, a 1998 model Case IH 8920 two-wheel drive with just 461 hours brought $81,000.

It’s interesting to note that these new record prices are from all over the U.S.—Illinois, Michigan and Texas.

It’s the same scenario with Case IH 8930s. The highest auction price I had ever seen on a Case IH 8930 was $74,000, dated all the way back to a Dec. 21, 1998, dealer auction in southeast Missouri. The 1997 Case IH 8930 mechanical front-wheel drive had just five hours. This record-high price stood for nearly 14 years until a Nov. 10, 2012, farm auction in northwest Iowa where auctioneer Del Beyer with Beyer Auction & Realty sold a 1998 model Case IH 8930 mechanical front-wheel drive in excellent condition with 2,990 hours for $84,500. That’s a whopping 14.2% jump in the record-high sale price.

Moving on to the Case IH 8940 models, I’ll take you to a small but nice farm retirement auction in east-central Iowa on Sept. 28, 2013. I drove down to cover the auction. After review­ing the sale bill, the super nice, one-owner 1998 Case IH 8940 mech­anical front-wheel drive with 2,436 hours caught my eye. Before leaving for the sale, I looked through my database and found a similar 1998 model with 2,346 hours at a Nov. 13, 2012, auction in west-central Nebraska that sold for $85,000.

I couldn’t wait to see what the tractor at the Iowa auction brought, although I thought it might bring less than $85,000 due to "softer" commodity prices. Nope—it went higher, and the bidding closed at $87,000.

Do these seemingly outrageous premiums for nice but 10-plus year or older tractors make sense? To most farmers, yes ... for two reasons:

  • It’s nearly impossible to find another used tractor just as nice for sale. "Like new" used tractors don’t make it to dealer’s lots—they’re already spoken for when traded in. And the number of machinery auctions is down nearly 60% compared with the 2000 to 2005 time period.


  • When you compare the sale tag of even a high-priced used tractor to the cost of a new tractor or one that’s a couple of years old, you still save a pretty penny. It makes a nice 15-year old tractor with low hours worth more.

Greg Peterson writes from Rochester, Minn. Contact Greg:

Twitter: @MachineryPete

CaseIH8920 IL  69500 CaseIH8940 IA  87K

This 1998 Case IH 8920 with 3,106 hours sold for a then-record auction price of $69,500 on Nov. 24, 2012, in northwest Illinois. This record price was soon surpassed.

This 1998 Case IH 8940 with only 2,436 hours sold for a whopping $87,000 at a Sept. 28, 2013, farm auction in east-central Iowa.


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