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!
Not too long ago, my buddy Dustin and I were working on his S670, getting it ready for harvest. He’s a farmer in northern Iowa, and his combine is getting up there in years. He was debating over whether to continue to repair it, trade up to a different used model, or buy a brand new one. Dustin knows his equipment better than just about anybody I know, but I could see that his head was spinning. With so many options on the market right now, I’m sure he’s not the only one!
One of the unknowns he was wrestling with was about the transmission. Is a John Deere ProDrive (essentially an IVT system) the way to go, or is a conventional 3-speed the better idea? Try Googling that question sometime; you’ll find so many passionate opinions on the ag message boards that you’ll give yourself a monster of a headache! Eric in western New York says, “ProDrive is a must have!” Two lines later a guy in southern Illinois comments that he absolutely hated the one he’s got now and he can’t wait to get rid of it!
While the debate still goes on, the general consensus is that ProDrive transmissions make better use of torque from the motor. In turn, that makes it easier to maintain speed in the field (especially useful in hilly ground like Dustin’s). The trade-off for the increased efficiency is that the option itself is more money when they’re new, they’re slower on surface roads, and depending on who you listen to, they’re a lot bigger headache when they break.
So, to try and help Dustin, I told him I’d do some analysis on it using our Iron Comps data to see what effect ProDrive had on residual value. I couldn’t help him weigh all of his unique pros and cons. That said, I do have access to a huge database full of farm equipment auction results. I knew that I could help him with the numbers aspect.
I’ll admit, I was curious as to how it would shake out. I knew there would be a “ProDrive Premium”. But at some point, I figured there would be a point where that started tailing off. I also wondered if there was a point where the 3-speed became a better option.
I made a call to a local dealer and found that an S670 with ProDrive sold for about $428K in 2015 (ProDrive was a $7K option). So with that baseline number, I went into our Iron Comps database. It’s powered by Tractor Zoom’s auction data, and captures over 55% of the market, more than any other source. We’ve got close to 150 S670 sales just within the past two years in the database. It’s a numbers game and the bigger the data set, the more confident we can be in our results.
The table below breaks down the values even more into three scenarios of combines with 600, 1200, and 1800 hours. The first row shows the expected average value for ProDrive S670s. The second row is the expected value of a S670 with a 3-speed. The bottom ‘ProDrive Premium’ percentage is the amount that could be attributed to the ProDrive for that age of combine.
The results for the newer combine affirm what ProDrive advocates have been preaching. A ProDrive in our dataset with 600 separator hours should sell for about $185K at auction. Its 3-speed counterpart, just $163K! A difference of $22K (13% premium) is a lot bigger number than the $7K option when it was new! This indicates that there’s definitely a demand for these combines – especially those without a ton of hours!
As the combine ages, so does excitement for the ProDrive. So much that it is essentially negligible at 1800 hours. A likely explanation is the cost to repair a ProDrive, which older machines are more likely to need. Typical repair bills for out-of-warranty transmissions are fairly steep. Based on what I’ve heard, you could be looking at $25-30K to replace a shelled transmission. Not a small number. I can definitely understand why the premium starts to fall.
As one final check on this pro-ProDrive conclusion, I like to filter down by auction type. Retirement auctions tend to bring higher premiums. Consignment sales tend to be lower and represent the market value floor. The unexpected challenge I discovered was that few S670 3-speed combines hit the retirement market. Conversely, we haven’t seen a lot of ProDrives selling at consignment sales. I’m still working on determining why this happens.
I showed these numbers to Dustin the other day over a beer, and it pretty well confirmed what I think he needed to hear. When I left the shop, he was on his tablet browsing combines at Tractor Zoom, and I’m sure he’ll find a nice ProDrive S670 at a retirement sale somewhere.
A modified version of this article originally appeared on the Iron Comps blog a few weeks ago.
It’s getting hard to find a low-houred John Deere 4455 like this one these days; every now and then, however, one sneaks out of the barn and heads to auction. Like this one! This beautiful tractor only has 2743 original hours on it, and it sells at an auction hosted by Wears Auctioneering in Iowa City, IA. Sells with duals, full rack of front weights, new interior, and sales and service records.
The 4455 MFWD was a hot seller, because among other improvements, this tractor could turn sharper than the competition. Deere built a push-button system for the 50-series called Caster Action that tightened the turning radius. However, on the 55-series, it engaged automatically. By tilting the kingpin on the front axle a few degrees, the front wheels could lean over while turning; therefore tightening your turning radius. In fact, the stat nerds at Deere figured that if you dragged a 6-row 30″ cultivator through a square 100-acre field, you’d turn around 139 times! With Caster Action, the John Deere 4455 could cut about 18 feet off of each loop! When you do the math, that saves about a half mile per field! It doesn’t sound like much, but if you did the math all the way through the year, it’d add up to some decent fuel savings!
(That said…many owners turned their 4455s up a little, so the fuel savings went straight out the stack. Still, it was nice idea, right?)
This particular tractor is a 3-owner with 2743 hours (verified – service records and sale history comes with the tractor). The tractor has never left the state of Iowa all of its life, and each owner has maintained it very well. A Deere technician replaced the dash at 2727.9 hours in 2014; he engraved the original hours on the underside of the new dash to document the change. Since then, the owner has only it used a few hours per year mowing set-aside land. The new meter currently reads 14.9 hours.
Bidding on this one is pretty hot right now; I’ll be surprised if this tractor doesn’t hit close to $50K when the bidding is finished!
Final hammer price: $54,150.
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