Top 5 Classic Tractor Stories from 2015

December 28, 2015 05:41 AM

1. What the H___.

A lot of folks had that reaction, twice, in 2015, as the two highest ever auction sale prices on Farmall H tractors were recorded this year. First came the 1939 model H with SN 504 sold on an October 14, 2015 auction in northwest Wisconsin for $11,151 (pictured above). Why so much? All due to that Serial No. 504, making it the fourth H ever made and turns out, the earliest known one left to exist.

I think I recall blogging at the time that $11,151 will likely never be topped for an auction sale price on a Farmall H. How could it?

It could and it did, just three weeks later in fact, at a November 7, 2015 tractor collector auction (Mecum Auction) in Davenport, IA where a 1952 Farmall H with a documented, published story on how it has only seen 200 hours of use….ever, sold for a whopping $40,000. That’s absolutely incredible. Everywhere I’ve traveled to since has asked me about the $40,000 H. Here’s a pic of it:


I’ve now seen well over 1,000 Farmall Hs sold at auction the past 20 years. None like these two.


2. Rare John Deere 4WD Tractor


I spent my Halloween 2015 in Belleville, IL, just outside of St. Louis. It takes a lot for me to miss handing out mini Snicker and Hershey bars to the neighborhood kids, but I had to be in Belleville, just had to. Why? To watch Verlan Heberer’s rare John Deere WA-17 4WD tractor, 1 of only 27 made, sell to the highest bidder on Verlan’s collector estate auction. Verlan was tragically killed in a tractor accident just weeks before his auction. As one of the world’s best known John Deere tractor collectors, the attendees came literally from all over.

The big, bad WA-17 4WD was what everyone left talking about. It went for $80,000. Here’s video I shot of it selling:


3. Super Rare John Deere 4000 Sells for Big Bucks

I like my steak done medium. Some folks prefer rare. And lots of tractor collectors go crazy when a truly rare configured production model appears for sale, like the 1971 John Deere 4000 gas, power shift, 1 of only 9 made. It came up for sale on a June 27, 2015 at a collector auction in east-central Minnesota. It sold for $82,500. Here’s a pic:


The owner/sellers had NO clue how rare and valuable this gas, power shift John Deere was. Here’s from my post to our Machinery Pete Facebook page after the auction as Facebook follower Bridget told the story: "When Kurt (Aumann) went to see about the auction, the owner took him to another shed that housed their farm equipment. There were a few antique tractors stored in there. He noticed this tractor with a loader and Hiniker cab on it. It was a 4000 and Kurt told Bill (owner) it was a pretty unique loader tractor and that the 4000’s were getting pretty popular. He told Kurt, "Oh no – we can’t sell that, we use it all the time!"

"Then Kurt noticed it was a gas, THEN it was a Powershift, THEN he had another talk with the owner – ha ha! They bought the tractor used in 1982 at a local dealer and had used it ever since. The consecutive serial number is in an Illinois collection and came from the same area, equipped with the same loader and same cab

Quite a happy surprise there for the sellers at $82,500. Wow.

4. Restored IHC 1468 Twin Turbo


I’d been meaning to get this auction for YEARS. Finally made it, to Polk Auction’s annual Labor Day collector auction in New Paris, IN ( We even brought along our HD cameras for our Machinery Pete TV show on RFD-TV (Saturday 12:30 PM CST; Tuesday 4:00 PM CST) to film the auction action on September 5, 2015. One of the biggest draws of the auction was the restored IHC 1468 with twin turbo, a real looker. And of course as I’ve been writing, talking and blogging about for 5 years now, these mid 1960’s to mid 1970’s tractors have become the hottest ticket with collectors.

Perfect example here as this 14568 sold for $33,000, the 2nd highest auction price I’ve ever seen on a 1468. Here’s YouTube video I shot of it selling:


5. The Tom Renner John Deere Tractor Collection

OK, no rules here, so I’ve decided to end my “Top 5 Classic Tractors of 2015” not with a single tractor, but rather with an out of this world collection, owned by Tom Renner of Belleville, IL.


I guess Belleville, IL was Machinery Pete’s lucky spot this year.

I actually met Tom at the Heberer collector auction in Belleville on Halloween. Tom, in an understated Midwest guy kind of way, told me after we had chatted for a while…”Pete, you might want to come visit my place sometime.”

I’m not one to let kindly invitations sit. So we arranged for me to come to see Tom’s collection when I would be back in the area in mid December ’15 covering the big Ritchie Bros. consignment auction up the road in Caseyville, IL. So how was my visit to Tom’s place.


It was just absolutely stunning. I just let my camera roll as Tom and son Jake Renner walked me through 1, 2, 3, 4 different sheds filled to the brim and arranged magnificently, with superb quality John Deere tractors, highlighted by Tom’s world class collection of rare Deere 4WD tractors…WA-14, right next to a WA-17, then a 7520, around the corner a beautiful John Deere 8020. Son Jake hopped on the 8020 and lifted the attached 8 bottom plow to the sky. To the sky I say.

The video walk through is just over an hour long. I’ll offer this piece of advice: invest an hour in watching this video and if you don’t come away with 5-10 things to talk about with the boys at the local coffee shop, then I haven’t been compiling auction sale prices for 26 years now. Trust me, watch the video, a real treat, not just on the Deere tractors, but also having Tom show us unworldly collections of mowers, wagons, plows, hay tools, dairy equipment, sausage makers, copper bath tub, and a blacksmith shop he had made. Like I said, this is quite the video tour:

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Spell Check

Tim Stoll
Fort Qu Appelle, ND
3/8/2016 12:29 PM

  I'm from Canada and have a mint WA17 tractor I'd like to sell. Tim Stoll 306:332:2536

Lone Jack, MO
12/31/2015 01:47 PM

  Great video. Awesome collection and Tom's stories and explanations were very interesting. Well done Greg!


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