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.
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.