These Used Tractor Prices Went Viral

June 13, 2013 08:30 PM

My arm almost fell off while trying to film a farm estate auction in southwest Minnesota back on the cold, raw, rainy day of March 9, 2013. The little video cameras they make these days are small and not very heavy, but holding one up and steady for nearly 14 minutes is not easy. Still, I managed to do it.

The machine up for bid was a beautiful 1988 John Deere 4450 MFWD tractor with only 2,612 one-owner hours. I figured the way things had been going in early 2013, this could be a hot seller. I underestimated it by a mile.

It sold for $70,750, a whopping $20,000 more than the previous record-high auction sale price I’d ever seen on a John Deere 4450. (See the red text in the table below to compare the record price with the previous high.) Considering how many John Deere 4450s I’ve seen sold at auction over the past 23½ years, it was quite amazing.

Oh, and the $70,750 sale price didn’t even include the duals ($1,800) or the weights ($1,400). The same buyer took both, so he had $73,950 in that John Deere 4450, and he still needed to transport it back home to Tennessee from Minnesota. Wow!

The way the auction unfolded was as amazing as the price. The tractor sold in just under 14 minutes, going by $250 bid increments from $57,000 all the way up to $70,750.

I’ve known the auctioneers involved for many years—Dan Pike, Kevin Kahler, Ryan Kahler, Allen Kahler and Doug Wedel. These guys don’t pull teeth when selling anything on their auctions. They work quickly.

But this 4450 had a life of its own. The demand for high- quality used tractors with low hours and a history of great care has grown. The low number of machinery auctions is a huge factor, as is the rising price of the new models.

I saw the same exact dynamic play out on a March 28, 2013 farm retirement auction I covered in northeast Iowa, where a 1990 John Deere 4455 2WD with 2,393 hours sold for $73,750—$12,750 more than the previous record sale price on a 2WD 4455. Ditto for the 1998 Case IH 8920 2WD with 461 hours that sold for $81,000 at an April 10, 2013, consignment auction in northeast Texas—$10,000 more than the previous high.

Possibly the best example I can offer you is the 1993 John Deere 4960 MFWD with 3,045 hours that sold for $114,000 at a Jan. 24, 2013, farm auction in west-central Ohio—a mere $27,000 more than the former record auction price I’d seen on a 4960. You read that correctly: $27,000 more.

New ways to sell. I point out these eye-opening premiums for two reasons:

First, your staff needs to be aware of values in a changing environment.

Second, there is great opportunity to use social media to help sell equipment.

All of the amazing record-setting tractors I’ve highlighted were featured on our Machinery Pete pages on Facebook and Twitter before they sold. A couple appeared in YouTube preview videos. Chatter ensued from the farm audience all over—the Netherlands, the Far East, Russia and Central America. Folks love to see and hear about great tractors, and they are also willing and able to pay premium dollars to acquire them. Spread the word!

Greg Peterson researches and analyzes auction prices. At, his website, you can find databases of auction sale prices on 75 categories of equipment. Subscription information is available online or by phone, (800) 381-0423.

Auction Price Chart
Auction Price Chart 2


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