That’s right, kids…not one Case 4894, but a pair of ’em this week!
In the late 70s and into the 80s, big 4WD power was where it was at. The idea itself wasn’t new; the Steiger brothers had been building 4WDs for nearly 20 years at this point. But, with farm expansion in the 70s, farmers needed more power to pull bigger implements, and the industry was really starting to take off.
The typical 4WD of the 70s followed a pretty basic formula. Build a big tractor that bent in the middle (or have Steiger build you one…), let the marketing & advertising people do their thing, and voila! Well, the people at J.I. Case thought that was pretty much the most ridiculous thing ever. How do you keep a tractor that BENDS IN THE MIDDLE going straight?
Seems like a pretty legit question, right?
J.I. Case’s approach
Ever since the factory in Racine turned out their first 4WD (the 1200) back in the early sixties, they felt a straight frame with axles that could pivot did a better job. That was their story, and they were stickin’ to it. Honestly, they’d had pretty good success with their 4-wheel-steer setups, too. They were complex systems, and they took a little more TLC than a center pin. Man alive, though, they sure could turn a tight circle! Less than 19′ even with duals! Good luck doing that with a Steiger! Additionally, the crab steer was a big help on hillsides. It all but eliminated side draft!
So in August of 1979 when Case launched the 90-series tractors, they touted them as “the most advanced 4WD tractors had ever built”. They were impressive tractors, too. The new “Silent Guardian” cab was a game changer for sure; it was roomy and quiet – even quieter than a SoundGard!
In 1984, they updated the 90-series tractors to the 94-series. Fundamentally, they were the same tractor (save for one all-new tractor at the top of the stack – the 4994), but where the 90 was pretty analog, the new model incorporated more electronics and a digital dashboard. They still retained the same transmission and powerplant…which for the Case 4894, came from Sweden.
Wait…what? Sweden? Why?
Yep. Sweden. Home of meatballs, IKEA, the northern lights, and an unintelligible Muppet.
Scania was (and as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen today, it still is) a major player in the diesel industry, and they’re a driving force in the global trucking market. They build semis and city buses, as well as lots of motors for various applications. They’re a big deal!
JIC partnered with Scania for motors for the top tractors in the 70, 90, and 94 series. The 2870, 4890, and 4894 used Scania’s DS11 motor, a 674-inch inline six that made about 300 horse. The 4994, Case’s biggest-ever tractor, used the DS14, an 866-inch V8 that made 400 horse! They were stout powerplants that performed very well in the field.
Partnering with a Swedish company, no matter how beefy the motors, though…it seems…well, a little strange, honestly. I’ve wondered why Case chose Scania for a long time. Never found a really reliable answer to the question, either. I’ve heard theories as to why Scania got the contract, though.
Steiger & Versatile were pretty heavily involved with Cummins at the time. There could’ve been a clause in their contracts that Cummins wouldn’t sell to anybody else. It wouldn’t be the first time a company had negotiated a contract like that.
Interestingly enough, the last five or ten 4994s built left Racine with an 855 between the frame rails. I believe one of them actually sold at a Canadian farm sale in October of 2019. I also know of one 4894 living in Minnesota that has what appears to be a completely factory-installed L10 Cummins in it. I’m not sure what the serial number is, though, so I don’t know if it’s early or late. I’m guessing it might be a late one.
I do know that Scania made a push into the US market with a small contract with Mack over the road trucks earlier in the 70s. That might’ve caught JIC’s eye, especially if the big motors were a cost-effective option. Case could’ve been taking a gamble on Scania’s success in the States.
It could’ve also been a case where the top brass at JIC & Tenneco were just huge ABBA fans, too… ?
In the field…
In the field, the 4894s were monsters. They were very popular in the west as well as in the Canadian wheat and canola fields. Hilly country was where these tractors made their mark. They might look a little funny when they crab-steer, but man alive, it sure is effective!
They were powerful and capable, but as with most complex systems, they did need maintenance. The crab-steer system had a lot of moving parts, and if the owner didn’t look ’em over and address issues, consequences could be costly. An ounce of prevention definitely saved a pound of cure, in the case of the big crab-steer tractors!
Even though they sold relatively well, the factory only churned out 872 of these big tractors. Part of that was due to the merger between Case and IH, just a year after the 4894 rolled onto the market. Once the merger happened, the 94 series was scrapped because IH was already in a pretty strong partnership with Steiger. The remaining tractors were all painted red and rebadged as Case Internationals. Once they were gone, they were gone.
The ones on next week’s sale…
With tractors like the 4894, proper usage and preventative upkeep is definitely the key. If you’re looking at one on an auction or a classified ad, etc., check for service records. The key is to get the story.
…and that’s exactly what I did.
I called Clint Mullins, the man who owns these tractors. He lives just southwest of Williston, ND, just across the Montana state line. Until fairly recently, Clint and his son Zach farmed a fair amount of grain out there (wheat, I think?). They’ve decided to downsize their operation by a fair bit, and the team over at Musser Bros. is handling the sale.
At any rate, Clint told me that he bought the pair of 4894s in the late 90s to restore and use. He’s been completely through the tractors from stem to stern. Rebuilt both of the big Scania motors, been through the transmissions, differential, planetaries…the whole works. While he had them apart, he also repainted them IH red and re-decal’d them.
Once they’d been redone, they went to work on the farm. One of ’em pulled a 45′ air drill in the spring and served on grain cart duty during harvest. The other spent its life pulling a sprayer.
The hours are accurate. The grain cart tractor has 3300 original hours, and it’s got a bit more grunt. Clint turned the motor up to about 360 horse. It’s got dual 20.8x38s on it and a full rack of front weights go with it. The sprayer tractor has 7600 hours on it, and he left it set at 300 horse. It also sports dual 18.4x38s, a nearly full front weight rack, as well as being outfitted with Trimble EZ-Steer!
What’ll they bring?
Honestly, I expect they’ll bring quite a bit. I checked our Iron Comps database for prices on the Case 4894, and of the few listed (they don’t change hands very often), they’ve been hovering in the $8-10K range. That said…these are a LOT nicer tractors, and they’re selling in area where these were well-regarded. If they don’t bring between $20-25K each, I’d be very surprised.
Will they set all-time records? No. The all time record is somewhere in the $45K range at least 10 or 12 years ago. But, for the “modern” era that we’re living in now, these will set a very high mark!
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!
Ah, the John Deere 6030. My very favorite Deere of all time. If anything wearing green and yellow paint ever screamed “Muscle Tractor” louder than the 6030, I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve been waiting for a really nice example to write about, and this one happens to be fairly close to me, too!
The History of the John Deere 6030
Introduced in late 1971, the John Deere 6030 was essentially the final evolution of the 5010/5020 series tractors. They were both good enough tractors, but they seemed clumsy and heavy, like they couldn’t really get out of their own way. When the 6030 came out, that clumsy image of Deere’s “big” tractors went away pretty quickly.
What was the secret sauce? The motor. The 531 big block, in its most powerful naturally aspirated form, only turned out about 140 horse. While that was probably acceptable for the early sixties, it didn’t fly in the horsepower wars of the early 70s. To address the demand, a turbocharged 531 was introduced in the 6030 and boy, that made a big difference! Where the naturally aspirated motor made 140 horse, the turbocharged model was rated at about 175!
In 1972, Deere did offer a naturally aspirated version of the 6030 that made the same 140 horse that the 5020 made. Almost nobody bought them. A total of 45 naturally aspirated 6030s were ordered before they came to their senses and pulled the option off of the order forms in 1973. I can’t remember the last time I saw one of them sell at an auction. They’re rare animals for sure.
Don’t worry about the mule…just load the wagon!
The John Deere 6030 sold very well over its five-year production run. Word traveled pretty fast that the big brute was not only pretty light on its feet, but it was WAAAAAY underrated from the factory. The Nebraska test showed about 176 on the PTO, but if I had to guess, the test mule was probably set up for fuel economy – not horsepower. Legend has it that most of the 6030s that rolled off the assembly line in Waterloo made well north of 200 horse, which would definitely make them a little on the thirsty side. Heck, I’ve heard stories about dealer demo tractors that turned close to 250 horse on the dyno!
Deere took no prisoners when it came to the 6030. At the end of the day, it was the biggest, baddest 2WD to ever roll off of the assembly line in Waterloo, and there wasn’t much it couldn’t do. But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) when you sell a farmer a tractor that you claim will do anything they want it to do, inevitably farmers are going to say, “Well…let’s see what this ol’ girl can do!” The weak link, if there was one, was the axles. When word got out that these were overbuilt monsters out in the field, farmers started piling the weights and pulling heavier and heavier implements. Under super-heavy loads, the axle would flex enough to snap. Deere solved this towards the end of the model run by up-sizing the axle a little bit to 4″.
There was another issue, too; this time, with the motor. See, once in a while, the 531 wouldn’t like a heavy load, either. When the big block was under too much load, it did what heavily loaded motors tend to do…spin bearings. Because of that, it’s not uncommon to find a 6030 with a replacement motor in it. The motor of choice was typically the 619, introduced with the 8630 in 1975. It was essentially a direct bolt-in motor, and upped the power to 275! Talk about a muscle tractor!
Details on THIS 6030
Late last week, I had the opportunity to grab lunch with Jake Rice (Rice Auction Co. – Clearfield, IA), a good friend of mine and the auctioneer who’s handling this sale. This is a GORGEOUS 6030, folks. It’s a late 1974 model with about 7700 original hours. The motor is original to the tractor as well. It’s sporting nearly new rubber all the way around (20.8-38s on the back, and 11-16s in the front) as well as fresh paint. The seller purchased this tractor out of Brad Walk’s collection about 7 years ago.
That last part is important…
Who’s Brad Walk and why is that important?
Well, there are “6030 guys”…and then there’s Brad. Brad Walk is a collector and restorer ( My6030 ) who lives about an hour south of Champaign, IL. Brad has earned the reputation as “the go-to guy” for any and all things related to the John Deere 6030. If you need parts, he’s your guy. If you need one restored, he’s your guy. Or, if you want one with a built 619 with a bumpin’ custom stereo wearing floaters, Brad’s your guy. He’ll basically build anything you like! His collection is very cool, too; among many other tractors, he’s got the first 6030 (serial number 33000) ever built, and the last NA 6030 to be sold here in the States! Number 33000 took nearly two years to restore!
What’s it worth?
The John Deere 6030 is one of those tractors that seems to go up and down in cycles. Five years ago, you probably could have bought one in pretty good shape for $16-17K, but over the years the average prices of these tractors have gone up by about $5K. But those are for your average tractor. This one isn’t average by a long shot.
When the hammer drops next Thursday (December 16, 2020), I’m pretty sure the bid is going to be somewhere in the $30-32K range. It’s a beautiful tractor, sits just right, and for a John Deere collector (or a muscle tractor collector), this one will tick off pretty much every box on the checklist!
The Ultimate Versions of the Ultimate Muscle Tractor: Custom One-Offs
One of the reasons that I have a thing for 6030s is because they’re unique. With only 4042 of them produced, they’re not all that common. I don’t remember ever seeing a 6030 on a farm as a kid growing up in West Michigan, so I sort of looked at them as unicorns.
Well, there’s a handful of guys in the midwest who have taken that unicorn concept to another level, essentially building their own versions of the ultimate muscle tractor. Here are a few that stand out in my mind.
The Tractor Pulling Connection
Another reason I really love the 6030 is because so many pulling tractors wear 6030 sheet metal. It seems like nearly every pulling class across the country has a handful of ’em, and since I shoot so much pulling every year, I tend to see a lot of them. Here are a few 6030s that I’ve shot over the past 10 years.
So that’s the wrapup on the John Deere 6030, and why I think it’s the coolest tractor to wear green and yellow paint! Go bid on this one on Jake Rice’s sale so I’m not tempted to start spending money I don’t need to be spending! ?
Final Hammer Price: $36000 (3rd highest price this year!)
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