The flat, open land of the grain belt naturally sets a ceiling for most ag equipment used in corn, soybean and wheat geographies. Larger tractors, combines, and other grain equipment will typically bring higher values with a substantially higher volume sold. The graph below depicts the region average price difference of utility tractors (100 – 174 HP) sold in 2019 and 2020. This analysis utilized Iron Comp’s filtering options to arrive at two comparable data sets. Below are tractors with less than 5,000 hours, and sold at auction for more than $10,000 between January and August.
Utility Tractor Values by Region
What we see first are the value peaks representing the Midwest. All other regions’ were 14% lower than the Midwest in 2020 and 23% lower in 2021. This increased discrepancy is not surprising when you consider what is driving the demand in the Midwest. The 2020 and 2021 bullish grain market.
So how much have regional utility tractor rates increased from early 2020 to 2021? You could break out the calculator with the graph figures above, or you can let us do the math below.
Similar to the demand logic about the Midwest, other regions with high demand of utility tractors should also see higher year over year increases. The Northeast’s heavy use of utility tractors in dairy country are a good example. The New England region has a 38% year over year increase in value.
In this data set there were fewer comparables from the Rockies and Pacific states with the applied month and sale price filters. When this happens the average should receive less weight in your valuation model. A more direct look at comparables may be more beneficial. Iron Comps has recently added in a search by state function. Check out the Auction Results screenshot below. This allows for faster sorting and locating of the best comps.
If you are interested in learning more about how utility tractor values differ by region (and combine and row crop tractors too!), tune into the webinar tomorrow!
You can always tell when it’s getting close to planting, harvest, and the end of the year. That’s when there’s always a massive amount of auction inventory that hits Tractor Zoom. Along with that, you’ll usually find some interesting tractors showing up too!
Such has been the case the past couple of weeks, actually. Our auctioneers have had some terrific pre-harvest sales, and there’s more coming!
Let’s hit some interesting tractors and trucks crossing the auction block, and then we’ll get to those $60K loose ends.
I love rat-roddy stuff, and I always have. So, when Jared Sutton listed this one late last week, I kind of fell for it!
Collectors and hot rodders have been modifying antique tractors for years now. The process is relatively straightforward; basically, the front axle turns upside down and the rear drop boxes rotated 90º. After that, it’s a process of relocating stuff (tie rods, for instance), flipping the final drives and swapping them left/right so the brakes still work, and a lot of cosmetic stuff.
This one is nicely done, too. It’s been outfitted with elephant-ear fenders (which are from a WD, I believe) and the exhaust has been re-routed under the tractor. It’s been sprayed red, too – I wouldn’t swear to it, but it looks quite a bit like IH 2150 red. That would make sense, too. Jack Bader, the man who owned this tractor, was a red collector. This is the one and only Allis Chalmers on his estate sale.
What’s it worth? Honestly, I don’t know. These low-rider tractors don’t tend to change hands very often, and because of that, there aren’t a lot of comps. This one is a fairly standard build with not a lot of extra custom touches (there are a few of these out there that are pretty wild – custom exhaust manifolds, custom wheel and tire setups, crazy paint jobs, etc.). It’s well-built, and pretty well-known, too. Bidding currently sits at $2100, but I’d imagine it’ll go for at least double that.
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t REALLY want to get in on the bidding for this one, but my lovely wife made it pretty clear that a single-seat low-rider tractor was about the LAST thing we need…
(That may rule this one out, but if I can find a two-seater…..) 😏
The LTL 9000 came out in the mid-70s when Ford decided they wanted to play in the long-haul game with Kenworth and Peterbilt. The trucks were well-built and pretty stout, but they didn’t come with the same kind of options for powertrains and drivelines. As a result, they didn’t sell nearly as well as the W900 or the Pete 359/379. They’re still pretty darn nice trucks, though, and the styling is a little different than what you typically see running up and down the road everyday.
This one is an ’87 model day cab that, for the time being, lives in Ashland, NE. The owner restored it in 2013. It’s powered by one of the best analog powerplants you can get, too – the venerable CAT 3406B. Granted, it’s not tuned up quite like a Michigan Special, but at 435 horse, it’ll do just fine with a hopper bottom on the back! It’ll do it with some style, too!
OK, quit drooling. Actually, go ahead. I drooled over it for a few minutes too.
This is another one of the tractors on Jared Sutton’s auction this coming Saturday up in Madison, SD.
I wrote a fairly lengthy article about 1468s back in January talking about why Harvester built a V8-powered tractor (spoiler alert…it was all Marketing’s fault). Honestly, they look cool and they sound great, but they really aren’t much for farm tractors. The DV550 that sits in these things is tremendously fragile, but it DOES make a cool noise.
This one is probably no different, except for one or two important details. First, the Coleman FWA axle is pretty neat. It is hydraulically controlled front drive axle that you could add at the dealership when you ordered your tractor, or as an aftermarket deal. In the field, they did help with traction, but they also added a LOT to the tractor’s turning radius. I sent this to my buddy Chris the other day and he shot me back a text saying, “Man, that thing probably sounds cool, but it’ll take 40 acres to turn around!”
He’s probably not wrong, either, to be honest! 😂
The second thing that makes this tractor a little unique is the stack configuration. I believe that the manifolds on these tractors are interchangeable from side to side, so if you wanted the exhaust closer to the operator, you could do it. Most farmers didn’t because it was extra work and they look good the way they were. But, if your tractor is like Jack’s and has a canopy, you can make that thing a LOT quieter if you put the stacks in the back. The stacks poke just above the roofline, which is likely a lot quieter. Good for long days on a tractor ride, I’d imagine!
At any rate, while the 68s weren’t real successful in the field, time HAS been very kind to them. They are prized by collectors, and the rare ones that still have functional FWA axles from Coleman or Elwood fetch REALLY big money. I watched one sell back in March at the Mecum Gone Farmin’ Auction and it sold for $63,000! They sold another in June for just over $47,000, too. I think you’ll need at least $40K to play in this game. These tractors continue to appreciate; I don’t think we’ve seen the peak values for them yet!
Here’s a big fella you don’t see very often! The A4T-1600 tractors were Minneapolis Moline’s first foray into the 4WD market in the late 60s. As other manufacturers began building 4WDs, Moline saw their sales of FWA tractors start to slip. So, they assigned the project to an up and coming engineer in his 20s named Mike Verhulst. Mike took Project Maverick from start to finish, and even won an award from the state of Minnesota for his efforts!
You’ll note that this tractor isn’t painted in the familiar Prairie Gold paint scheme that most Molines wore. With White Motors owning Moline, Oliver, and Cockshutt, there was a lot of badge engineering that happened around that time so that they could appeal to multiple markets. There are multiple versions of this tractor, and they’re all badged and painted just a little differently. Oliver had a green one (the 2655), Moline had yellow ones and red ones, and White had one called the Plainsman. All the same basic tractor, but badged and painted just a little differently. Sort of confusing, right? My friend Sherry Schaefer does a good job ironing it all out in an article in this month’s Heritage Iron! Well worth picking up a subscription, or just ordering that issue on its own!
This particular A4T-1600 is an LP gas tractor that was originally an open station tractor, one of just 115 built! To make this one a little more rare yet, it was one of only 76 ordered with 23.1×30 tires. I’m not sure what the serial number was, but it’s safe to say that this one is fairly uncommon. I doubt you’ll see another one sell this year.
What’s it worth? Again, it’s a crapshoot here. They don’t change hands very frequently. I checked our Iron Comps database and only found one of these big 4WDs in it. It sold for $12,000 about two years ago. I think that one was more original, though. Still, with $5 corn, you might find a couple of bidders that’ll drive this one into $10-13K territory. You never know! It’ll be fun to watch!
Last week, I wrote about Harold and his Empire 88 that he’d modified so that he and his wife Wilma could take her mobility scooter with them on tractor rides. It was a really neat piece; Harold was very thoughtful in the design process for the modifications, and they all came together really nicely.
Well, the hammer just dropped on that auction about an hour or so ago, and I’m happy to say that this little Empire sold for $3,193! That’s great money for an Empire – probably one of the highest sale prices ever seen for one of these little guys!
Did Harold end up coming out on top? If you asked him, he’d tell you that from the numbers perspective…no, he probably lost money on the tractor if you counted the value of his time in building and restoring it. But, from an overall perspective? I’ll bet he’s tickled to death with it. The modifications that he made to that tractor allowed he and his dear wife to do what they loved…together. What more could you ask for?
Boy oh boy, did this one ever generate some attention…
The auction wrapped up yesterday at about 11AM, and the final hammer price? A whopping $60,300!
When I posted something congratulating the seller, auctioneer, and the new buyer, I think I almost broke the internet. Man alive, people got bent outta shape about that price! They either thought that we were lying, or that the buyer had lost his mind, or some other ridiculous combination of things.
“SOMEBODY PAID SIXTY GRAND FOR THAT THING??? You’ve gotta be kidding!?!? That’s a $20K truck at most…what kinda drugs was the buyer taking?”
Yep, somebody actually wrote that.
You should see the stuff I had to delete from the thread on our Facebook page. I’m not gonna lie…there are some people with some real bad attitudes in this world, and they all seemed to find that post yesterday afternoon.
Here’s the thing that most people don’t understand about stuff like this:
New(ish) pickups can be collector’s items.
Clean, low-mileage examples of OBS Fords with the 7.3 Power Stroke are becoming collector’s items. This one is 24 years old. 25 years old allows it to be titled as a collector car, and you can put collector car insurance on it.
Collector cars attract a different market of buyers.
They buy stuff based on a different set of characteristics. For many of them, they’re looking at a truck like this as an investment. They’ll hold on to it for another ten years in a clean, climate controlled environment alongside six Mustangs, two Corvettes, and thirteen other old pickups that are just as nice. They won’t use it like a farm truck. They’ll take it out a few times a year just to keep it in good working order. The next time we’ll probably see it is when they decide they’re going to sell it at Barrett Jackson or Mecum…and when they do, some other collector is going to buy it for $100,000 and do the same thing with it!
Lastly, and most importantly…nobody got ripped off.
Lots of people claimed that this truck was a fake, or that sketchy stuff was going on behind the scenes with this auction. None of that is true. Phil Wieck, the auctioneer, did a terrific job of documenting and presenting this pickup. He provided tons of photos, videos, and all of the information needed for buyers to decide whether or not it was worth it. Nobody rolled any odometers, nobody slapped 500 pounds of Bondo on a clapped-out farm truck and painted it and tried to pass it off as minty-fresh. This was, and is, the real deal. It’s a survivor pickup, and collectors want those!
If it proves anything, it proves that presentation matters.
If you want to get top dollar for whatever you’re selling – whether it’s on AuctionTime, Craigslist, or anywhere else…presentation is important. Three photos, two of which are blurry…that ain’t gonna cut it. Drag it out of the barnyard, wash it and detail it, and take a ton of photos. Show the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be truthful in your descriptions, and show the documentation you have. Do yourself a favor and put the time and effort into presenting it nicely. I guarantee that it’ll help you get more for whatever you’re selling.
Some of you may take issue with me on this, and that’s fine. You’re welcome to your opinion. I get it; it’s tough to see a pickup that’s not quite “old” but definitely not “new” as anything more than a utilitarian piece of metal. A trusty pickup. Something to throw junk in the back of, and do truck stuff with.
Believe me, I get that. I drove past a Ford dealer every day on my way to high school back in Michigan, and I drooled over trucks just like this one too. To me, that doesn’t seem so long ago, but the numbers don’t lie. I graduated in 1996, so I’ve been out of high school for 25 years now. Those trucks still seem “new” (ish) to me, too.
Would I have thrown down $61K to own that pickup? No. But that’s the thing. I’m not a collector. I couldn’t justify a truck like that in my garage. But somebody did. To them, it was worth that much, and I chose to be happy for them because they got something that they really wanted! I don’t think they’re insane for paying that, either. They have a different perspective than I do, and that’s cool with me. I would hope that it’s cool with you, too…even if you think that it sold for too much money.
Somebody thought it was worth it. Be happy for them!
Used combine values are a big concern for many this year. This is especially true going into the high demand August market with a tight supply of farm equipment. Just last week we saw a significant sale with Sullivan’s AHW dealer auction on June 15th. The listing was heavy with harvesting combines, draper heads, plus a few late model tractors and sprayers. This auction provides a great look at the market’s direction when analyzed with our Iron Comps database.
With over 60 lots of AHW’s equipment sold, we chose just a few significant pieces to test against the current trendline. Used combine values may be the most intriguing for dealers to look at now so they can gauge what the market may look like in August during prime selling season. For those interested in tractors, headers, and self-propelled sprayers, I’ll be diving into those in some upcoming analysis. The good mix of both Hagie and Case make for a nice brand comparison of sprayers!
Harvester sales at this Sullivan auction ranged from $61,000 for a 15 year old Case-IH 2377, to a 2018 John Deere S780 2WD valued at $288,000. In addition to studying these bookends, a 2017 S680 4WD was analyzed. It has relatively low hours and some bells and whistles worth looking at.
The 15 year old Case 2377 may temper an overly bullish outlook on this market. With just over 2,000K separator hours, this would have justified $55,000 based on the Separator Hours vs Price graph which trends 2019 and 2020 values shown below.
If you caught our 5 Trends for Equipment Dealers webinar last month, you will recall that used combine values had not yet seen the post-pandemic bump that tractors have been experiencing. Some of this delay may be due to the void of late-model machines on the market. This theory was tested with a relatively young 2018 John Deere S780 at the AHW auction, which brought the top combine value of $288,000. We will dive into that next.
John Deere S780
The entire auctioneers description for this S780 is as follows:
2018 John Deere S780 2wd combine, ProDrive trans., ContourMaster feederhouse w/CommandTouch 5 spd. drive & hyd. fore/aft, 28.5′ unload auger, PowerFold bin extension, chopper, PowerCast tailboard, Active Yield, 650/85R38 drive tires and duals, 750/65R26 steer tires, LED lights, premium cab, 10″ display w/AutoTrac, Turn Automation, Data Sync, Implement Guidance, In-Field Data Sharing, Machine Sync, RowSense & Section Control activations, 899 eng./640 sep. hours, SN 1H0S780SJJ0801614
Our Tractor Zoom database has a significant number of these S780 for a quality comparison. In the bottom bar graph below you can see a slight year over year average price increase in the S780 values. Because of all the variables in play we need to look at closer comparables to truly judge market movement. In the top graph, the orange square represents where this AHW combine ranks in terms of separator hours and sale price.
Our AHW S780 is on the top end of expected values for its hours when compared to the past three years. High, but certainly not an outlier. Below we drill down even further into a look at two specific comparables. The first screenshot of Iron Comps Auction Results surfaces the most recent sale dates and closest hours. This view indicates that used combine values may have hit a ceiling.
However this does not indicate the market is reversing by any stretch of the imagination. Below the next image narrows down the search to the two closest sep hour comparables. Both sold in the combine flurry that was last August of 2020.
You can see how much values have risen in just a year. From $249,000 average last year to $288,000 for this auction. A 15% jump!
John Deere S680
We have explored the top and bottom of used combine values in this auction. Approximately a 15% to 10% increase is seen, respectively, over last year. Let’s open it up and see if a mid-hour combine falls somewhere in between. A 2017 John Deere S680 4WD sold for $186,000 with just over 1,000 separator hours. Below is the full auctioneers description:
2017 John Deere S680 4wd combine, ProDrive trans., ContourMaster feederhouse w/CommandTouch 5 spd. drive & hyd. fore/aft, 26′ unload auger, chopper, PowerCast tailboard, bin extension w/tip-ups, 520/Interactive Combine Adjust, ActiveYield, LED lights, premium cab, 1,445 eng./1,071 sep. hours, SN 1H0S680SPG0795113
Comparing our S680 with other 2021 sales, the value is in line with others in the TZ database. A great comparison, pictured below, sold in late March of 2021 at a consignment auction in Minnesota for $200,000.
While this comp does have a refrigerator, the other options are similar and reinforce the theory that 2021 values may have hit a top and stabilized for now.
Iron Comps has the ability to filter by hours and auction type. Using this we can slice data to consist of only S680’s between 900 – 1100 hours sold at dealer auctions. Contrasting these historic equipment values, this AHW combine’s sale price exceeds 2019 and 2020 values by about 30%.
Used Combine Values in 2021
Big movements in used equipment values tend to coincide directionally with significant commodity price changes. With the exception of wheat, current cooling of the corn and soybean markets may be tapping the brakes on the rising used equipment values we have been riding over the past eight months. Another major factor at play will be the necessary demand of combines prior to this fall. Will a tight new and late model supply force prices even higher? Will downward pressure of the grain markets have any effect? To answer these questions keep your Iron Comps app open and your eyes on the most recent sales!
An open mind, industry knowledge, and a commitment to excellence are driving innovation at Compeer Financial
Mike Morris, VP of Appraisal for Compeer Financial, is well-known in farm appraiser circles in the Midwest, and within the Farm Credit System. He was recently named to the IL Society of Professional Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers hall of fame and currently serves on the Real Estate Appraisal Administration and Disciplinary Board for the State of Illinois . He also spent 10 years on the board (serving one term as president) of the IL Coalition of Appraisal Professionals, too. At first glance, his accolades could make people think he’s an industry vet sitting at a big desk behind a sign saying “This is the way we’ve always done it.”
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Will the real Mike Morris please stand up?
The real Mike Morris? He’s an industry innovator.
In 2017, 1st Farm Credit Services, AgStar Financial Services, and Badgerland Financial united as Compeer Financial. Mike was tasked to lead Compeer’s appraisal efforts. His mission? Develop innovative solutions to do better for their clients – American farmers.
“In Compeer’s pursuit to provide the best possible service to our farmers, we knew we had to be continually looking to improve and innovate. One of the first challenges that I had running the real estate and chattel appraisal groups was, ‘How do we tap into this massive source of data throughout the Midwest?’”
Through their own research, Compeer learned that their appraisers knew the local market well. However, it wasn’t efficient to go very far outside of their area to gather data. Furthermore, once they did get the data, it came from so many sources that it took a tremendous amount of time to standardize and analyze it all. At the end of the day, they needed a consistent, standardized data source that wasn’t specific to one auction. They needed a bigger picture – one that they didn’t need to develop themselves.
“We knew there was a lot of data out there. We just weren’t as comprehensive as we needed to be. [There are] several regional sources that are really good, but nobody was aggregating it.”
It was in this search for the solution that Mike’s deep industry knowledge was key. He understood that standardized data was the key to his team’s success, especially data that can be sorted by time and location.
“It was essential to have a single source that aggregated the data to use in our farm equipment evaluations. In the past, if someone went into a website on a Monday and got information for a specific tractor or combine, then someone went out a month later, that data might be completely different. Coming from a real estate background, my bias is toward having actual market data.”
Compeer put out a request to potential vendors asking them to aggregate all this massive amount of data, organize it, and bring it back in. It had to be robust, accurate, and transparent.
“Compeer didn’t really want a black box answer – i.e., push a button to get a value. We were already really good at [getting that value] ourselves. We needed a way to put the data in our own hands efficiently and then let our trained chattel appraisers make the determination of the final value using that data.”
Mike learned long ago that innovation is everywhere, not just in The Silicon Valley. To that end, he intentionally reaches out to progressive companies who push the boundaries of what is possible.
That’s where he met us.
“We met Mike through a mutual friend who was also in the Ag-Tech space who knew he was forward-thinking and always looking for better solutions to age-old problems,” stated Jeremy Hewitt VP of Sales at Tractor Zoom and Iron Comps.
Mike’s drive for innovation did not stop with finding a partner. He was very clear in his expectations of the scope of work. That set the bar not only for his internal team, but also for us, too. People who love their work will typically rise to meet a worthy challenge – and for us, this was definitely worthy.
“We really challenged the Iron Comp team to make enhancements along the way. Things that help us do our jobs better and to innovate in the future. Iron Comps has been very responsive to our requests. They work closely with our team to make changes and improvements. Some of them even happen in real time!”
Two of the biggest ongoing benefits of Mike’s approach are access to robust data and massive time-savings. “Our travel evaluators spent countless hours finding, analyzing, and putting data into spreadsheets to make it useful.I would say they probably spent as much as 40 or 50% of their time on that process! What Iron Comps has allowed us to do is push that process back to [Iron Comps]. Instead of following up on every individual auction, we can validate that data internally. We can confidently say, ‘Yes, the data you are getting matches what we see out in the country.’ Ultimately, Iron Comps has saved our team a ton of research time. Finally, my team can really focus on what they are very good at! Furthermore, they’ve got 40-50% more time to devote to it, too!”
“Iron Comps has also helped us standardize our data set compared to where we were before. An appraiser in Illinois might’ve used a different set of data than say someone in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Now they all have access to the same, larger set of data. It’s so much more robust and comprehensive compared to what we dealt with before.”
From where we’re sitting, an open mind to new partners, deep industry knowledge, and die-hard devotion to high standards made all the difference in the world to this project – both for us as well as the team at Compeer Financial. Furthermore, it allows them to focus on what they do best – continually doing better for their farmers! While this is reason enough to invest in Iron Comps and its capabilities, they’re just getting started. There’s lots more innovation on the horizon!
A year ago, we wrote about the seasonality of the baler market. The summer dip in values still exists, but that was a flat commodity market. The price of all machines since last harvest have been nuts! With commodity prices on this meteoric rise, does that make 2021 a unicorn year where you can turn a profit on older equipment?
Just last week we talked with a farmer who bought a farm down in Tennessee. With that farm came a relatively new Vermeer 504R round baler. The farm was needed. The extra baler…not so much. Iron Comps came in handy to show the farmer what he could expect from this yellow iron round roller if he sold it. That got us wondering, “Could farmers have invested in machines last year, and flip them now on the open market for a profit?” Land appreciates, but machine values almost always head downhill with time and usage.
The round baler market has responded to 2021 like all other machinery. The average price of all used balers was relatively flat from 2019 into 2020. The overall average price did increase 3%, but the 1st quarter average price dropped 12% (Q1 is typically the best time to score a deal on a baler). Either way you slice it though, 2021 has been making hay! Average round balers sold in the first quarter of 2021 are up 25% more than the same time in 2020! Even 10% higher than this time in 2019!
But our question needs to be based on more specifics than descriptive statistics can provide. With a few clicks in Iron Comps Insights, I pulled up dozens of sales of one of the most popular balers to ever roll off the Vermeer Mile in Pella; the 605 Super M. Two particular balers provided a great example of this contrast. The first sold at the beginning of this market rally in early September of 2020, and the second in the midst of this run in late January of 2021.
Although built 3 years apart, these 605 Super M’s both had the same high-end features and sold in the Midwest. The 2011 that sold in September went for $19,750 with 7,150 bales under its belt. The 2014 sold in January for $22,500 with slightly more than 11,800 bales counted. Despite the higher bale count, the more recent sale went for $2,750 more than the model sold last year! That is 14% more for a baler that has already produced 65% more bales.
While checking fields with my dad last summer, he pointed out some low strips in our neighbor’s corn field. They were equally spaced about every 100 feet. Apparently the neighbor was pulling one of his big planters (a 48-row) with a pretty big 4WD, and the weight caused compaction in those rows. This led to an interesting argument discussion about what the “perfect” planter was. We never did agree on one, but it was an entertaining discussion while riding in the side by side.
There are consequences to every choice and farm equipment is no different. It’s a matter of knowing the pros and cons for your operation. Since I was riding shotgun, I pulled up Iron Comps Insights on my phone to understand the value of 48- and 36-row planters. Some farmers got some seriously good deals on planters at auction, especially given the price of a new one! Case in point: late last year, a nice 36-row Kinze 3700 sold in WI for $22K!
Price aside, though, another key factor with implements this large is how you’re going pull it. Most manufacturers recommend at least 350 horses to pull a 48-row planter. That probably won’t come as a shock to most of you, but if you were planning on using the trusty John Deere 8400 for a 36-row or bigger, you’ll be in for a pretty rude awakening.
I was curious to know the difference in the horsepower of farmers’ tractors between those who own a large (36-rows+) planter compared to those with a more moderate 24-row, I dove into Iron Comps. Our Insights tool was essential for this because it lets me filter auctions by type. So, I set the filter to only include estate and retirement auctions narrows the results to individual farm fleets. Finally, I split those auctions in two groups. The first sold 24-row planters and the second sold 36-row planters (or more). Of those two, I looked at the data to see the percentage of tractors sold in different power ranges. You can see the results in the graphs below.
There is no doubt that big planters require a big tractor. What’s most surprising is that farms with a large planter had such a small number of sub-300 horse tractors.
A 24-row may only be half the width of a large planter, but it’s still a pretty big implement. For auctions that sold one, you find a lot more high-power tractors when compared with all tractors sold at retirement and estate sales.
As we approach planting season, know there are a good number of quality planters on the market. Just make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than what your operation can handle!
If I ever write a book about the 1468, I think I’ll call it The 1468: It Was All Marketing’s Fault...
To be fair, there were likely a lot of reasons why the 68-series tractors didn’t sell well. It’s wasn’t all Marketing’s fault. But…Harvester’s Marketing execs did start the ball rolling.
Basically, this whole deal started because Massey had attacked the horsepower race with the 1150. The 1150 used a 510 inch Perkins V8 (a motor built for a city bus) dialed up to 146 horse. It was a handsome tractor with all the right stuff, and it sold fairly well to young farmers. Not only that, but it sounded good too – way better than any city bus motor should! Adding insult to injury, the 1150 made 2 more horse than the 1456. In 1970, it was the 2WD king of the horsepower hill!
Well, getting kicked off the hill didn’t sit real well with Harvester’s Marketing execs. They HAD to respond…
Somehow, they convinced top brass that the only thing to do was to retaliate with a tractor of their own. And if Massey did it with a V8, by gosh that’s what we need as well! Talk about jumping on a trend…
Now, let’s stop for a second and let’s talk about how inline sixes and V8s make power and torque. Inline sixes make power and torque down low. Farmers are used to that. A V8 makes power and torque at higher engine speed. But…farmers aren’t used to that.
You can see where this is a bad idea, right?
Jumping on the bandwagon
Okay, back to the story. Harvester somehow buys in to the idea of a V8 tractor and began development on the 1468. Basically, to save time, the engineers used as much of the 1466 (since it was pretty much ready for prime time) as they could – final drive, gearbox, cab, tin work, grille, etc. The motor they chose was the DV-550, a 550 inch diesel V8 from the truck division. If I’m not mistaken, these were used in light-duty semis (think in-town straight trucks and the like). The engineers tuned it to make 161 horse at the crankshaft. In turn, this put IH back on top of the horsepower hill for 1971. That made Harvester’s marketing team happy, at least.
One thing that’s unique is the way it operated. It only ran on four cylinders until the load on the motor hit about 80%. Many people think this was a fuel economy thing, but it’s not. Actually, they set it up that way on purpose because it ran too rich and REALLY rough otherwise…not a good thing for the field. But…among other annoying little glitches, it sounded real weird and farmers HATED that. Lots of them were re-engineered (de-engineered?) to run on all 8 at once.
The DV-550 made the power it needed to, but it definitely wasn’t without its faults. It was fragile and very finicky. It didn’t like to start in cold weather, and it smoked like a freight train until you dropped the hammer. They’d vibrate a lot at low RPMs, and they didn’t like it if you wound ’em out real tight, either!
Was there anything worthwhile about it?
Actually…yes. It wasn’t all bad. I mean, let’s be clear. It looks mean. It looks like a muscle tractor is supposed to look. Farmers thought that was really cool. There’s no denying that the 1468 is a good looking tractor.
And oh, the sound it made when running wide open…oooh, they sound good.
Launching the 1468
Harvester wasted no time in building up the hype on the 1468 prior to launch. They touted it as “The Big Power Champ” for “the man who won’t take less than the best.” The strategy paid off, too – to a point. When the tractors got to dealers, farmers lined up by the dozens to give them a go!
Ultimately, though, the tractors didn’t sell all that well. Farmers soon realized that V8 power didn’t cut it in the field. M&W had a twin turbo kit available for the DV-550, but that ended up making things worse! I have a close friend who’s father worked for a red dealer in NW MO. He installed those kits and cranked up the pump screw on a bunch of those tractors.
Half a season later, they were all back in the shop for new heads. Yikes!
The added air and fuel was just too much for those fragile motors. This wasn’t just the trend in Missouri, either; this happened all over the country. Some farmers would pony up for a rebuild (which was spendy). However, a lot more would go looking for a DT-436 at the local scrap yard. The swap was easy. All it took was a change of frame rails and a couple of relatively minor tweaks and presto! The farmer would have, for practical intents, a 1466…a tough tractor that made useful torque at low RPM!
All things considered, the 1468 wasn’t one of the great tractors that came out of Melrose Park, mainly due to the motor. Had they used another V8 from the truck group (the DVT-573 would’ve been a good one), things might’ve played out differently. Ultimately, IH only built 2905 of them in four years. They tried selling a “big” brother 1568 (basically the same as the 1566 but with the V8 under the hood). Alas, that didn’t work either. They only managed to move 839 of those!
HOWEVER, there’s more to this story. Stick with me…
This particular 1468 is part of the famed Farmall Land collection. I don’t know exactly how long Jerry Mez displayed it at the museum in Avoca. Suffice it to say, though, it shows beautifully. The tin work is straight (I’ve looked it over multiple times) and the paint looks GREAT! It’s got new rears, and the fronts (originals) look new as well. What’s more, this is one of the few tractors that I’ve observed in Jerry’s collection that doesn’t have any extra personalization on it. No pinstripes on this one. Basically, it’s been restored to factory stock. If you’re a purist who wants a nice original(ish) 1468, this is definitely one to bid on.
Jerry’s 1468 is a beautiful example of what has become one of the world’s most desirable muscle tractors! Click the photo to see the details!
That leads me to the last part of the tale…
The Aftermath & Skyrocketing Sale Prices
Twenty years ago, farmers couldn’t offload these tractors fast enough. They sold for peanuts! $3-4K would buy one any day of the week. But oh, how that has changed…
Over the past ten or fifteen years, the resurgence on these tractors has been astonishing. As farmers moved them out, collectors who want a prime example of a muscle tractor have jumped on them. Prices have gone through the roof! I looked at our Iron Comps database (you can too – click here to start a free 7-day trial) and based on what I’m seeing over the past few years, you’re going to need $30K to play in this game.
Although most tractor collectors out there are farmers, they view their “collection” iron differently than what they farm with. In the case of the 68-series tractors, the fact that they weren’t a great farm tractor doesn’t really matter anymore. It’s more important that they look good and sound good, and I think that’s what’s driving prices up.
As I write this post, the bid on Jerry’s 1468 is $25,250. However, the sale doesn’t end until next Monday. I think we’ll see the bidding continue to climb throughout the weekend. It wouldn’t shock me to see a hammer price of $35K or higher. It’s a beautiful, non-modified, nicely-restored tractor; the collectors will push this one pretty darn high.
There are a lot of cool tractor auctions that I never got to write about for Interesting Iron this year. We see lots of neat tractors and trucks listed on Tractor Zoom by our auction partners. Unfortunately, I can’t write about ’em all.
Still, they deserve a little time in the spotlight, so let’s do a year-end wrap-up of 20 of the coolest tractors, trucks, and pickups that didn’t make it to Interesting Iron in 2020! Last week, we covered everything from record-setting red tractors to Big Buds to Cummins-swapped squarebodies. This week, let’s look at the rest of the list!
The Wagner Tractor story has a bunch of different angles – way more than I can cram into a paragraph or two, but suffice it to say that they were a pioneer in the 4WD tractor movement. They built great big beasts in an era where lots of companies couldn’t even imagine a farmer big enough to need a tractor like that!
This big TR14A was one of two Wagners on a Sullivan sale in northeast Iowa this past August. Neither one of them brought a lot of money, but they still deserve a spot in the history books. Wagner tractors are an integral part of the big power farming story. I don’t think they’ll ever see the collectability that their green stepbrothers have (Wagner built big tractors for John Deere for a little while – I told you there were a lot of angles to this story!), but they’re cool in my book!
Side note: For you big tractor collector types, the silver lining to the low-price cloud is that if you want to start a niche-y collection, they don’t typically sell for huge dollars when they do come up! (Sadly, you don’t see many Wagners at tractor auctions…once in a while, maybe, but not often.)
Usually if there’s a super-low-houred classic that’s coming up for auction, word gets around. Not this time. This 2-owner black stripe 1066 only had 794 original (and verified) hours on it! I’ve never seen a lower-houred 1066 in my entire life! Needless to say, this beautiful survivor brought big money. It smashed the previous record by $19K, hammering home for $46K after it was all said and done!
People have wondered if maybe the market is starting to slip on 1066s a little bit. I think this one, even though it’s a bit of an outlier example, still reinforces the case that there’s still demand for classics like this – both for collectors as well as for farm use!
Oddly enough, though…this wasn’t the highest-priced 1066 we’d see in 2020. More on that in a minute.
This is probably one of my favorite tractors that rolled across the block this year (maybe a tie between this one and Jerry’s 1256 Wheatland). I’m sure there are purists that are cringing over this pick because they think a “true” Wheatland couldn’t be ordered with fat tires like this, and they think it looks way too hot-rodded. To each their own. I’ve seen some of the ordering paperwork and I’m pretty certain you could order these with factory 24.5s like this one.
Anyway, this one presented very nicely in my opinion. In addition, this is the very last IH 1206 built in 1966! The bidders didn’t go as nuts over this one as I thought they might, but Deanco still got a pretty reasonable price out of it.
I think what I really like about this one is that it shows that you can still find a decent deal on a collector tractor at an auction. They don’t ALWAYS go for a small fortune. I don’t know who ended up with this one, but I hope it was a young collector, and it’s a cornerstone of their collection!
When Case got into the 4WD tractor market in 1963 with the 1200 Traction King, they did it in the typical Case way. They’d always produced a quality product with reasonable features at an affordable price. They drew a box around what they wanted, and they built a tractor that fit within those parameters. In this case, that meant using pieces and parts that were already sitting on the shelf to keep costs down. Had they wanted to, they could’ve built something super-robust that made a ton of power, but that would’ve been overkill. They had the components to build a 200-horse tractor that probably would’ve tipped the scales at 20,000 lbs., but that would’ve been more than what was necessary for the time.
The 1200 Traction King was, at the time, a great tractor with one rather glaring flaw…the turbocharger. A normal 451 cubic inch Lanova that Case put in this tractor normally made 105 horsepower, but that would’ve been just a little underpowered for this big tractor. The tractor needed more power, and the only way to get it was to turbocharge it. Unfortunately, though, the turbo’d 451 was a fragile motor with a tendency to run REALLY hot.
The 1200 didn’t sell tremendously well, and Case only turned out about 1500 of them. This one was nicely restored, and like the 1206 from the same auction, the bidders didn’t go crazy with it. Somebody got a pretty good deal on this piece of history and took it home for $10K!
Just like they say that they’re only original once…there’s only one “first one.” This is the very first 1066. Serial number 7101. Amazingly enough, this tractor lived in Iowa all of its life. It was originally sold on December 8, 1971 by Falb Implement in Elgin, IA and only changed hands twice since then. Sometime in 1976, it was sold by Rhomberg Implement in Elkader, IA to Ray Cassutt who farmed with it until November 6, 1987, when Jerry Everitt bought it at Ray’s retirement auction.
1066 #1 is an incredibly original tractor. What you see in the photo is essentially what it looked like in December 1971 when it originally sold in Elgin! I believe the only things that aren’t factory original are the tires. Otherwise, that’s the original paint and Hiniker cab! Here’s the real crazy part…even after three owners, it’s only got 2993 original hours on it!
There was a LOT of discussion about who would end up with it and how much they’d end up paying for it. Heck, we had even had a pool going with in our office on what it would bring! (And had we not been playing Price Is Right rules, I’d have won the darn thing…)
When the hammer finally fell, the winning bidder paid $86,100. Honestly, it was less than a lot of people thought it was going to sell for (I heard guesses of anything from $50K to a quarter million). There were a fair number of people who were pretty annoyed that Case IH wasn’t the buyer. That’s okay, though. I’m sure Case IH knows where it went… (I can also tell you that they’ll probably have to pay through the nose if they want to get their hands on it.)
If ever there was an iconic semi, the long-nosed 379 is it. They’re the most popular owner-operator semi in history, and it’s not at all uncommon to see them customized like this one. I’m telling you…if I were ever to own a semi, this is what it would look like. (I might stretch the frame a little wee bit further and it would likely have a fire-breathing 6NZ Cat under the hood.)
I had a few buddies who had their eye on this truck when it went up for auction, but none of them ended up picking it up. Truthfully, I only saw one thing that likely kept the price from six figures. Most buyers looking for a semi like this are expecting to see some sort of Caterpillar under the hood (a 6NZ or a C15 most likely), and this one had a 60-series Detroit in it. Still, it hammered home for a very nice price and the seller was happy with the outcome.
In the world of Olivers, finding a 2050 is a pretty remarkable thing. They only built a total of 383 of them – including Cockshutt variants. But to find a front wheel assisted model? That’s exceedingly rare. There were only 93 FWA variants produced in total!
As you can see, this one wasn’t in perfect shape, but it was all there for the most part. I don’t know where it ended up, but I’d be shocked if it wasn’t a collector that picked it up.
Rare classics are out there, kids. You just need to keep an eye open for them! They do show up at regular old tractor auctions once in a while!
Pro Tip: Smart auction buyers (and collectors) don’t waste hundreds of hours scrolling through endless auction listings for the equipment they’re looking for. They use Tractor Zoom’s custom search alerts and let our system do the looking! Set up a free TZ user account here, and then set up an alert to get a text or email whenever we get a match for whatever you’re looking for! With over 450 auctioneer partners, we’ll end up finding it faster! (And if you need to find out what equipment is worth, you need to take a look at Iron Comps!)
The Mediapolis Fire Truck
There’s been a resurgence in popularity of 70s and 80s pickups over the past few years. They’re tough trucks that are easy to work on or restore, and they’re darn good lookin’ things! For a lot of today’s gearheads, trucks like this remind them of learning to wrench with Dad or Grandpa in the garage. In that sense, they become more than just a hunk of iron. They’re sentimental.
At any rate, this 1979 F-350 served in the Mediapolis Fire Dept. from when it was new until the fall of 2013 when it was retired. Since then, it’s been stripped of the gear in the back (a water pump, tank, and hose reel), and generally freshened up a bit. Nothing crazy. It doesn’t need it! At the end of the day, it has 30K original miles and a 400 in it – the biggest motor you could have gotten it with! (And before you start the “You’re wrong, Interesting Iron Guy” emails…you couldn’t get a 460 in a 4×4 in 1979. I checked.)
Bidders LOVED this truck, and it was one of the hottest sellers on this sale. When the hammer fell, it brought nearly $24K!
A long time ago, I remember writing something about how, at the end of the day, these aren’t just machines. Whether it’s a truck, a tractor, a combine, or something else that can be driven, pivotal moments of life have been spent there. How many grandfathers planted corn after dinner with one of their grandsons riding on the armrest of a 1086? How many times has a father consoled a heartbroken teenaged daughter sitting in the buddy seat of a 9770 STS during harvest? Furthermore, how many teenage boys have saved every penny so they could put a lift kit on an old Chevy like this one? My point is that these things aren’t just tools that we’re talking about.
Life happens in these vehicles.
Nothing that crossed the auction block in 2020 drove that point home harder for me than this truck.
See, this truck belonged to a kid named Seth from Louisiana. It was his pride and joy. He drove it everywhere and I’m sure he had a lot of fun in that truck. I’m sure he drove that truck to his high school graduation ceremony, and maybe out to a party afterwards. Might’ve taken it out on a first date or two as well.
Then, on his first day of college, doctors discovered that he had bone cancer. Three years and a long, hard fight later, Seth passed away in 2013 at age 21.
Seth’s grandfather held on to the truck for the past seven years. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must have been for him to sit in that old Chevy and think about his grandson. My heart goes out to him, and his family. Nobody ever thinks that they’ll have to bury their grandchild. Still, it happens.
A month or two ago, Seth’s grandfather decided that it was time that the truck went to start a new life with a new owner, so he consigned it with our friends at Henderson Auctions in Livingston, LA. When the auction ended, the proceeds (including buyer’s premium) went to the family’s church to help build a memorial pavilion in Seth’s memory. It sold for $12,000.
Friends, we’re not promised tomorrow. Don’t wait to make memories with your family and friends.
So earlier this summer, there was another AC 8550 that sold at an Indiana retirement auction and smashed the existing record. I think 8550s are really cool and I wrote about that one for Interesting Iron. Super Beasts don’t show up at tractor auctions very often; to see two of them sell in a calendar year is somewhat uncommon. In the end of that article in above, though, I told the story of another Super Beast that lived at Loretta Lynn’s ranch in the late 70s into the 80s.
THIS IS THAT VERY TRACTOR THAT I TOLD THE STORY ABOUT!!!
See, back in the day, AC had a strong marketing partnership with Loretta Lynn. They had a working hobby-type ranch in Tennessee, and farmed with orange tractors. Early one Sunday morning, one of the local dealers got a frantic call from Loretta’s husband Mooney. Apparently he’d learned that Super Beasts can’t swim. I believe the story goes that there’d been a little Saturday night drinking involved, and he’d driven it into a pond and cooked the motor in the process.
After a bit of “discussion” between the involved parties, Allis replaced the motor in that tractor, and up until just a few weeks ago, it was still working on a farm in Ohio!
Now, this tractor didn’t set a crazy record when our friends at Harmeyer Auction sold it, but $24,000 is still pretty strong money. That Allis landed in a collection up in North Dakota a week or two. Not only did they get the tractor, but they got a heck of a story to go with it!
So there you have it, my friends. The 20 most interesting things that I didn’t have the chance to write about for Interesting Iron in 2020. Hope you enjoyed the stories! I’m going to be hard at work finding new stories to tell in 2021, and I hope to run into you at tractor auctions down the road!
Actually, you could probably say the same thing about the entire 50-series lineup.
Mother Deere’s 50-series lineup was the biggest product line of new tractors in the company’s history. Between 1981-1986, the company launched 22 new tractors. I believe 19 of ’em were available in the States, and 3 were local to Argentina. I think that’s pretty impressive, given that the Farm Crisis was happening at the same time!
At any rate, the 4450 was definitely the bread-and-butter model. It took everything that the American farmer loved about the 4430/4440 models and improved them.
(This is the point where the 4440 guys start lighting the torches and sharpening the pitchforks…)
Wait, what? The 4440 was the perfect tractor! There was nothing better! You’re an idiot, Interesting Iron guy!
I said what I said. ?
Here’s why I think they’re a better tractor from a mechanical perspective.
Prior to 1983, most (if not all) of Deere’s rowcrop 4WD systems were run off of the hydraulic pump, and they really weren’t all that great. They were notoriously unreliable, didn’t like to work when it was cold, and they were spendy to maintain. With the introduction of the 50-series tractors, the company implemented a mechanical system that used gears and a driveshaft. It was a lot more reliable, less expensive to maintain, and unlike the hydraulic system, built to work all the time if needed.
The 15-speed Powershift was, in most cases, better for field work. It gave the operator more gearing options to more effectively use the engine’s power (i.e., less “in between” issues than an 8-speed). Furthermore, because the gearing wasn’t spaced so far apart, shifts were a little less clunky. (Come on 30/40-series guys, you gotta admit that they shift pretty hard…)
Lastly, Castor Action. Castor Action was a system that tilted the kingpin on the front axle 13° so you could turn sharper. No more taking three acres to get the tractor turned around. It was faster and more efficient because it used less fuel. It wasn’t perfect, but it definitely saved farmers time and money.
Anyway, I’m sure the 4440 crowd would argue with me until the cows come home, but in my opinion, the 4450 was the better machine. The 4440 was definitely more iconic, but it did have its shortcomings.
Farmers seemed to think so, too. While the older tractors may have moved more units, the 4450 still accounted for 1 out of every 5 tractors sold in the 50-series lineup. Hard to argue with sales numbers like that!
So, why did I choose this one for this week’s Interesting Iron? Because it’s probably one of the nicest 4450s you can buy on the market right now. I talked with Riley Sieren, the auctioneer who’s hosting this estate auction, about this tractor earlier this week. He told me that Marvin, the man who owned this tractor, was the only owner. He bought it new from R.J. Schott’s John Deere dealership in Sigourney, IA in 1986. Since then, he only put 5925 hours on it. He also told me that Marvin took a lot of pride in his equipment; he always kept it in the shed, and he was quite particular about keeping his tractors spotless inside and out.
If ever there was a cream puff, this is it. Go check out the listing. There’s a ton of great photos and Riley took the time to capture the details. I’m pretty confident in saying that this is one of the cleanest all-original John Deere 4450 MFWDs on auction that I’ve seen all year long.
Honestly, I could see this tractor hitting $45-50K before the hammer drops on December 3. I looked at some of the trends using our Iron Comps data to see what these were doing and boy, these 50-series tractors are continuing to climb in value. They’re tough tractors that are really handy on a farm of nearly any size. They’ll do nearly all the tasks that a big tractor will do, while still being handy enough to maneuver around in tight spaces. Furthermore, you can still work on ’em!
Side note: There’s a ton of great equipment on this sale. Lots of good, one-owner, well-maintained green stuff. Check out the full sale bill here.
“What’s my tractor worth?” is a question that we hear about farm equipment values ALL THE TIME. We wrote a blog post about it a year or two ago, and it’s consistently one of our most popular posts. It’s also the primary reason that we created Iron Comps Insights!
SE Iowa farmer saves BIG BUCKS on farm equipment
Recently, one of our customers contacted us with a pretty awesome story about how his Iron Comps Insights annual membership saved him a ton of money on his last equipment purchase. Rather than us rewrite the whole story though, here’s Brandon to tell you what happened!
The farm Brandon was looking at came with a few pieces of equipment as part of the deal. He knew what the ground and the structures were worth, but the farm equipment was the wild card. Furthermore, he’s a busy guy; between the livestock he raises and the acres that he farms, there aren’t a lot of spare hours to research equipment values.
So how much did he save?
Glad you asked. Hear it from him!
Like we said earlier, he’s busy. He didn’t have time to sit in front of a computer staring at a bunch of auction windows trying to find out what tractor was worth. We gave him the ability to do all the due diligence on his phone, and it saved him a ton of time (and money)!
So what’s the ROI of Brandon’s Iron Comps membership? It was pretty easy math!
At the end of the day, we built Iron Comps to help farmers across the country make smarter buying and selling decisions when it comes to farm equipment. Whether you’re using it to find reliable farm equipment values for the stuff in your shed, a piece of equipment that you’re looking to pick up, or a piece you’re trying to sell, it’ll be easier and faster with an Iron Comps Insights membership.
If you’re still not convinced, we’d invite you to test drive it for yourself. No risk, no credit card necessary, nothing. Hit this link to get signed up and see if it doesn’t save you time and help you make smarter decisions! We think the proof is in the pudding!