The 1468: It was all Marketing’s fault!

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These bad boys were ill-suited for the field, but boy they sure look good! You can bid on that one on the left right now! Click the photo for the details! (That’s a 1568 on the right – it’ll cross the auction block soon!)

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!

Massey’s 1150 was a good looking tractor that sold pretty well to a younger crowd of farmers. Click the photo to see the factory specs on TractorData.com!

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!

Brochurecover
The dealer brochure cover. No wonder farmers lined up to see them!

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…

Jerry’s 1468

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.

011121Girard1468Jerry’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.

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This isn’t Jerry’s 1486, but I really liked the way the selective color turned out on this photo. I took this one at a Mecum auction in the fall of 2019.

The IH 4300: This is what happens when Cub Cadets eat their Wheaties.

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This is what happens when Cub Cadets eat their Wheaties. You can own this overgrown Cub Cadet, too! Click the photo to visit the auction listing for lots more photos of this 30,000 pounds of IH 4300 goodness!

See the auction listing for this tractor

Today, we take a look at the crown jewel of the Farmall Land collection, the IH 4300. This one has a pretty good story behind it, both in terms of history as well as how it came into Jerry’s hands.

The History

In the early 30s, a guy named Frank Hough bought a company that made digging attachments for tractors, and set out to add a new term to the dictionary. His company built heavy-duty wheel loaders, and called them PayLoaders. The term stuck, and the construction industry still calls pretty much any wheel loader a payloader today. In the late 50s, Hough sold the company to Harvester, and built quite a few different types of IH construction equipment…and one great big farm tractor.

Hough built heavy duty loaders with the engine, gearbox, and steering in the back. Some of the technology they developed for loaders ended up becoming the underpinnings of the 4300. Click the photo to read more about the history of Hough!

In the late 50s, engineers from Hough got the green light from Harvester to develop a BIG farm tractor. Nobody really knows how or why they got put on the project. Harvester didn’t typically ask for input on farm equipment from other business units. The working theory was that Brooks McCormick was worried about a Portland-based manufacturer, Wagner Tractor Company. Wagner had an articulating 4WD tractor, the TR-14, that was starting to grab marketshare in the Pacific Northwest, and there was fear that they’d start taking farmers away from IH in the northern plains as well.

Up until now, farmers out in the Great Plains and the Pacific Northwest typically used crawlers to handle field work. Crawlers were slow, dusty, and because they were on tracks – hard to transport. The idea of a high-horsepower tractor on rubber was very appealing; it would do the same work faster and more efficiently (and because the operator sat higher, they’d end up eating less dust).

Hough had a prototype ready in 1959, and while Harvester liked the idea, they felt like it didn’t make enough power to compete effectively. The prototype made about 160 horse, and it was rumored that Deere’s 8010 prototype made closer to 200 horse. A year or so later, Hough had re-engineered the prototype to fit the need. It made more power – a lot more, in fact. They used an 817-inch turbodiesel that made 300 horse at the crank! Additionally, it was 4WD, featured front-wheel, four-wheel, and even crab-steer for hillside operation.

In reality, photos really don’t do justice to the enormity of what Hough actually built. The 4300 is over 21′ long, darn near 10′ wide, and tips the scales at 30,000 pounds! (While that’s not super big by today’s standards, it was absolutely gigantic in the early 60s!)

Unfortunately for Harvester…it was TOO big and a little too far ahead of its time. Farmers weren’t ready for the expense of a big tractor like that, and quite frankly, there weren’t implements available that could take advantage of the 4300’s capabilities. Hough built these tractors to order at their plant in Libertyville, IL, and they didn’t build very many of ’em. There are conflicting numbers as far as final production goes, but it’s somewhere between 36-40.

Jerry’s IH 4300

The 4300 that Jerry owns has a bit of a story to it, and traveled quite a long ways to get to him, too! It was one of two that IH sold new in 1961 in the northern Central Valley of California. In the mid/late 80s, the Leaman Brothers bought the tractor at an auction in LeGrange, CA and took it home to their shop in Pennsylvania. Ironically, the semi that took it across the country passed within a quarter mile of Jerry’s dealership in Avoca on that trip!

At any rate, Jerry bought it from Ed Leaman later that summer. When it got to Avoca, he started the long process of restoring it. Apparently, it was used in mud quite a bit, and it took him several days just to clean it up enough to see what he had! The tractor wasn’t a basket case per se, but it definitely wasn’t perfect either; it leaked oil from the valves, and there were plenty of other little odds and ends that needed addressed. The restoration process took a year or so.

Interestingiron Uselesstrivia Copy

Since completing the restoration, the overgrown Cub Cadet is on more or less permanently on display at Farmall Land, but I know Jerry takes it out for fresh air once in a while. It’s always a big hit at parades or tractor shows, that’s for sure. There’s plenty of videos on YouTube and photos on the internet of this tractor at shows – with the pinstriping and the quote painted on the front fenders, this one is hard to miss!

Cubcadet WheatiesSometimes the memes just write themselves, y’know?

What it’s worth…

Honestly, I have no idea. Of the 40(ish) IH 4300s produced, collectors have snatched up the majority of them. However, some are still working on farms in the Great Plains and in Western Canada, too. I only know of one other one restored to this level, though, and it won’t sell any time soon. A couple 4300s have sold since March of 2019 – one with a cab (it sold for almost $94,000), and the other without (it sold in late March for about $67,000). For the latter, the pandemic was hitting and the stock market was in free-fall mode. I do think the pandemic was a contributing factor to how the hammer fell.

Although we’re still dealing with the pandemic, I do think this one will bring pretty good money; it’s definitely the most famous 4300 out there, and it’s in great shape. Personally, I hope it gets to six figures (and I don’t think that’s completely out of reach). If the new owner enjoys that big ol’ Cub Cadet half as much as Jerry has, it’ll be well-worth the money!

Want to learn more about the IH 4300? Click here!

Up above, I’d mentioned the “other” IH 4300 that was as nicely-restored as Jerry’s. Here’s a video from Prairie Farm Report about that tractor. Cool story!

There are still a few 4300s that see some farm work here and there. Here’s an older video of one of these big fellas running an 8-bottom moldboard plow in fall tillage. Listen to that big honkin’ motor! Although there’s a little wind noise, it sounds AWESOME!

One of the reasons that the IH 4300 didn’t turn the farming world on its ear was because there weren’t implements that were large enough to really take advantage of the capability. There were a few, but big-acre implements were still a few years away. Harvester did design a pretty cool 10-bottom moldboard plow for it, though. There were very few of them ever built, and as far as I know, there’s only one that’s survived. Here’s some of the advertising literature on it.

IH 1000 Moldboard Plow
Harvester tested the IH 1000 10-bottom moldboard plow extensively using the 4300.
Ih 1000 Moldboard 2
Can you imagine how far that thing would swing on turns in the headlands???
Skyrocket Your Earnings
IH convinced themselves that using a 4300 would skyrocket a farmer’s earnings. Perhaps a bit premature on their part…
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Here’s another example of an advertising piece for the 4300. Neat stuff.

 

Final Hammer Price: $56600 (Somebody got a heck of a deal on this one.)

Farmall Land: Where tractors, history, and passion collide.

Cutting to the chase…

First, let’s cut to the chase before we get into some of the stories. As of the time I publish this post, you’ll have about 10 days to get to Avoca to see Farmall Land. After 5PM on Sunday, September 27, Jerry & Joyce Mez are retiring, off to travel the world and spoil their grandkids! Subsequently, our friends at Girard Auctions will be sending everything off to new owners. Everything will be sold through a series of online auctions (the land and the buildings too) beginning later this fall. You’ll be able to find all of the details for the tractors and equipment on Tractor Zoom, so keep an eye on the site!

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Is this Heaven? Nope…it’s Farmall Land.

Now…on to the stories.

In the event you’re a red fan, the long lines of flourescent lights probably give it away. Today, we’re celebrating one of the coolest collections of interesting red iron on the planet. Welcome to Farmall Land USA. 

If you’ve ever wondered what true passion looks like, Farmall Land USA is where you’ll find the answer. From the moment you walk in the doors and sign the 3-ring binder guest book on the table, you’ll not only see the passion – you’ll feel it. Over the past 50 or so years, Jerry & Joyce Mez have built an utterly amazing collection of the red machinery that built this country. They genuinely appreciate the opportunity to show it to anybody who walks through their doors, too.

The Dealership Days

Jerry’s grown up around red tractors almost all of his life. The Mez family moved to Avoca, IA from Falls City, NE and Max (Jerry’s father) opened Avoca Implement in 1943 when Jerry was just a toddler. The dealership was quite successful, and eventually expanded to locations in Greenfield, IA and (for a short time) Atlantic, IA. Jerry & Joyce sold both dealerships to Titan Machinery in 2008. The museum has been their full-time focus since then.

“Since I was 3 years old, everything I have is attributable to farm equipment,” Jerry said in a 2010 INTERVIEW.

 

Jerry began collecting red tractors in the mid-70s when he got out of the Army. The first one in the collection? One of the first tractors his Dad ever sold, a Farmall F-20. It was all downhill from there! Jerry & Joyce have close to 220 tractors in the collection now (nearly all of them pre-merger tractors), give or take a few. You’ll usually find about 150 on display at any given time.

Favorite Tractors

The Farmall 1206

So what’s his favorite? A Farmall 1206 narrow-front that his father sold new out of the Avoca dealership to a local farmer in 1966. Jerry bought it back from the original owner in 1988. When I last talked with Jerry in late June, this 1206 was one of the few that he was planning on keeping after retiring from the museum.

Jerry’s favorite 1206. Photo provided courtesy of Octane Press – authors of the Red Tractors series of books. Click the photo to learn more about the series!
The ih 4300

In addition to his 1206, another favorite that Jerry really enjoys showing off is a 1962 IH 4300 – one of the rarest production tractors IH ever built! IH didn’t build many to start with (I think the number was in the low-mid 40s; they were essentially built-to-order by Hough). Many were used pretty hard by construction companies, and Jerry believes there are only about six of them known to still exist. Weighing in at 30,000 pounds and sporting an 817-cube turbocharged inline six mated to an Allison automatic transmission, this one is definitely a crowd favorite. He looked for it for about 15 years, too, and the restoration process was extensive (it was a basketcase when he got it). All in all, it took two full nights to clean it up enough to see what they were working with for the restoration!

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Here’s the 4300 after Jerry’s restoration – and one of my favorite details on it.
Picture courtesy of Girard Auctions. Click this photo to see more photos and information about how they’ll be handling Jerry’s auctions beginning later this fall!
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Here’s the punch line on the other fender. Kids, always eat your Wheaties, so you can grow from Cub Cadet-sized to big powerful yellow tractor-sized!

Worldwide Destination

The museum typically sees well over 5000 visitors per year, and Jerry figures that he’s had conversations with guests from every continent and every state in the union as well! One of the last times I visited, I actually had an international (no pun intended) encounter while drooling over a wide-fendered Wheatland 1256! I met a man who was here in the states from Australia. He really wasn’t involved with agriculture in his day job back home, but he’d heard about Farmall Land and wanted to stop. “Stuff like this, and the people who run this museum is what makes America so great!” he said. Indeed it does, my friend.

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A pair of 68-series Binders. Note the M&W twin turbo kit on the 1568. Those kits alone can fetch $5K+ if they’re in good shape!

The farm and garden tractors themselves are one thing, but that’s not all that makes up this amazing exhibit. Additionally, the memorabilia and examples of other products that International Harvester (fridges, freezers, etc.) built is mind-blowing! Altogether, I’m sure there are well over a thousand die-cast toys ranging from 1/64th up to 1/8th scale, plus a load of nice pedal tractors too! Basically, according to Jerry, “If it’s red, we’ve probably got it.”

So, like I’d mentioned earlier…if you want to see this collection in all of its glory, you need to make some plans within the next week or so. After September 27, the doors will close permanently.

Additionally, here are some details if you decide to make the trip!

Address: 2101 N. Lavista Heights Rd., Avoca, IA 51521

(Basically, it’s at the intersection of I-80 and Iowa 59 off of exit 40; an hour or so west of Des Moines, or about 45 minutes east of Omaha.)

Phone: 712.307.6806

Web: http://www.farmall-land-usa.com/

Hours: Closed on Monday, Tuesday – Saturday 10AM-5PM, Sunday 12PM-5PM.

Admission: $10 for adults, $5 for 13-18, $3 for 5-12, and free under 5!

COVID-19 rules do apply as well, folks, so out of respect for Jerry & Joyce’s wishes you’ll want to have a mask with you, and wear it while in the museum.

All in all, there’s no community of people nicer than tractor people, and honestly, folks like Jerry & Joyce Mez and their small staff are the reason why. They absolutely love what they do, and love to share their passion for tractors with anybody who stops in to say hello. They’ve given very selflessly to the industry, farmers, and tractor collectors. In fact, I think I’m going to sneak away on Saturday the 26th and stop in one more time to say thank you. I hope I’ll see you there, too.

The Gallery!

Finally, here’s a gallery of photos from several of my visits, as well as a few shots from Girard Auctions! At the end of the day, though, neither my photos nor anybody else’s do Farmall Land proper justice. You really need to take it in for yourself.

Again, special thanks to my friend Lee Klancher and the team over at Octane Press for lending me the photo of that Jerry’s beautiful 1206. Lee wrote a great piece about one of his visits to Farmall Land. He’s got lots of photos that I didn’t get during my visits, too! Read that here.

Also, many thanks to my friend Ken Girard at Girard Auctions for lending me a few photos of tractors that I didn’t get in my visits! Click here to learn more about how Ken is planning to run the Farmall Land USA auctions!

Lastly, if you’re looking for red iron of your own…you should be looking here!