John Deere 4030: Rare ones from Nebraska!

John Deere 4030 tractors
These two John Deere 4030 tractors are pretty rare! They sell at a Nebraska auction on July 14, 2021! Click the photo for the details!

See the details on these John Deere 4030 tractors here!

Although nobody knew it at the time, August 19, 1972 was to become one of the most pivotal days in John Deere history. Actually, it was a pretty big day for farming in general.

The Generation II tractors launched at Deere dealers nationwide on August 19, 1972. Four all-new tractors with a brand new game-changing design, and a new objective – operator comfort. These were the first tractors built with a cab in mind, and they did it right. The 4030, 4230, 4430, and 4630 coupled with the SoundGard body changed farming as we know it!

The 4030 was the baby of the Generation II line (a little like the 766 was to Harvester’s 66-series). It was a do-it-all tractor built to replace the 3020. Most 4030s were powered by a naturally-aspirated diesel 329ci inline six (more on that in a bit). Rated at about 80 horse, they worked well for smaller tasks on the farm. In total, there were 15,690 built from 1973-1977, and lots of ’em are still at work on farms across America. We see John Deere 4030 tractors at auction once in a while – according to our Iron Comps database, 29 have sold over the past year.

You said “most”…what’s the story there?

By 1973, gas-powered big tractors were on their way out. Deere was nearly certain of this, but they did offer a gas 4030 to see what it would do. I don’t think they had a lot of faith that they’d sell, though. They never sent one to the Nebraska Lab to be tested. Results were pretty predictable…it didn’t sell well. So, after building 222 tractors, they dumped the option.

And that’s where we get into this week’s Interesting Iron, selling at a Ruhter Auction & Realty consignment sale on July 14!

1973 John Deere 4030 Gas/Syncro/STANDARD

4030 Gas Synchro Standard
Is this a one of one John Deere 4030? Steve Plambeck thinks it could very well be! Click the photo to see the auction listing on Tractor Zoom!

Steve Plambeck is the seller of both of this week’s tractors (and a friend of mine as well). When I talked to him yesterday, he told me that this might be the rarest 4030 on the planet. He’s well-qualified to speak on the subject, too; he’s a noted Deere historian, and has a heck of a collection of SoundGard-era tractors at his farm southwest of Grand Island, NE!

Deere built a total of 222 4030 gassers, 122 with Syncro Range transmissions. What makes this one hyper-unique, though, is that it’s a factory Standard configuration. No rock shaft, no 3-point, and a wide-swing drawbar! Steve told me that he’s never seen another one like this in all his years as a collector!

4030 Gas Standard Wide Swing DrawbarThis 4030’s got a wide-swing drawbar, and that coupled with a factory rock shaft delete might just make this one a unicorn!

4030 Cab Tricycle Dealer Decal

A collector found this tractor in North Dakota about 8-10 years ago, I believe. It’s changed hands a few times since then, but nobody restored it. That’s all-original paint and patina, which is the way I like ’em!  It originally shipped to Taylor Bros, Inc. in Great Falls, MT. Based on my research, Taylor Bros incorporated around the same time this tractor rolled off the line. This is probably one of the first tractors sold at their dealership! The meter shows 3510 hours, and Steve’s kept it in good running condition. I believe he may have replaced the rubber and maybe the seat as well.

4030 Gas Standard Hood
This one is all-original too, save for fresh rubber all the way around (and maybe a new seat).

 

Wrapping up…

Can we claim it as a one of one? No. Steve hasn’t seen all 222 4030s to verify, and Deere didn’t keep detailed records during the 70s. That said…collectors talk. If there’s another 4030 gas syncro standard out there, nobody’s found it yet. So, for now, let’s call it 1 of 122. That’s rare as far as Generation II tractors go! It’ll be fun to watch this one sell!

1975 John Deere 4030 Diesel/Syncro/Factory Convertible Front End/Soundgard Cab

Boy, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?

4030 Cab Tricycle
Remember the tractor that Tow Mater tipped over in Cars? This may as well have been the inspiration for it…and now you can own it! It sells at a Nebraska auction on July 14, 2021! Click the photo to see the details!

 

When’s the last time you saw a tricycle with a SoundGard? Definitely not something you see everyday. The best part of this one? It’s all factory! 4030s and 4230s could be had with either a Roll-O-Matic narrow front end (with one or two wheels) or a wide-front axle. The neat thing about the narrow-front option is that Deere’s engineers designed it to be converted it to a wide-front whenever you want! Factory wide-front tractors didn’t have this feature. If you ever see a narrow front like this one on a 4030, 4230, or 4040, it’s a safe bet that it came from the factory that way!

This tractor has spent pretty much all of its life in Western NE. It’s had two owners before Steve. The second owner hung on to it for close to 30 years before selling it to him.

 

This is a low-houred tractor, too. Only 5511 original hours! Steve says that it’s nice and tight, and drives really nicely too! It’s very clean inside, and the interior is a lot cleaner than a lot of 30-series tractors I’ve seen! It was resprayed at some point during the second owner’s time with it, and the rubber is fresh, too.

4030 Cab Tricycle Hood

Wrapping up…

Overall, this is a really nice tractor, and it’s pretty rare, too. Like I said, Deere’s records from this era aren’t awesome, making it hard to know how many they built. But that said…there definitely aren’t many. I know that Tom Renner has a 4230 set up like this in his collection, I saw a 4230 like this sell at an auction in Missouri a couple of years ago, and there was a 4030 sitting on a dealer’s lot in Ohio about 10 years ago that showed up on AgTalk, but that’s about it.

4030cab Agtalk
This 4030 was on a dealer’s lot in Findlay, OH about 10 years ago. No idea where it went, though…

Honestly, I have no idea what either of these will bring. Both of these fall into that unique category where there aren’t many comps. I’ll be really interested to see what they sell for!

One more thing…

If you saw a bunch of photos of really nice green tractors at a show over the past few days on social media, Steve had something to do with that, too. In addition to being a collector and restorer, he also sits on the board of directors for the Classic Green Society. Every other year, they host the Classic Green Reunion, and this past weekend it was in Columbus, OH. I couldn’t go, but I’m told it was a terrific show! Well-attended, too!

Classic Green Reunion 2023
If 2021 was any indication, the 2023 Reunion will be bigger than ever!

That said, I do intend to get to the next one in 2023. I won’t have anything to exhibit, but I’ll bring the camera and video gear and take y’all along for the ride!

Click here to see more of these cool 4030s!

 

The John Deere 4230: A chip off the ol’ block…

John Deere 4230
The John Deere 4230 is a workhorse, and lots of ’em are still earning their keep on farms across the country! This one only has 4453 hours on it, and it sells at a retirement auction on Tuesday, January 19, 2020! Click the photo for details!

SEE THIS JOHN DEERE 4230

We’ve dug into plenty of Generation II tractors in the past, but never at the “little brother” naturally aspirated models. Well…today we talk about one. The John Deere 4230.

The 4020 was one of the most popular “modern” tractors to ever come from Waterloo, and with good reason. It was really handy – for a farm in the late 60s, it was just about the perfect size for any job you could throw at it. It was a dependable tractor that seemed like it was up for the task at hand.

When they designed 4230, the engineers at Deere took all of the best things about the 4020 and carried them forward. To that, they added very modern styling, a small bump in horsepower, and a couple fairly major innovations. Those innovations would forever change farming as we know it…just like the 4020 did. In that respect, I suppose the 4230 really was a chip off the ol’ block!

Don’t call it a “cab”

In the late 60s and early 70s, America’s farming landscape grew very rapidly. According to census data, the size of the average farm in the midwest grew somewhere between 30-35%. With farmers covering more ground than ever before, they were spending more time on the tractor than ever before.

Until 1973, cabs were largely an afterthought. Farmers wanting them would buy the tractor and then buy a glass box from an aftermarket manufacturer and bolted it on. They didn’t fit real well, they weren’t real roomy, and generally weren’t all that comfortable. Yeah, they kept the rain off your head, but that was about it.

1206 ICB Copy
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be comfortable in that…

Deere watched the farming expansion unfold, and realized that they needed to change the way they looked at building a tractor. For the 4230 and its siblings, the tractor had to be designed around operator comfort.

And that’s exactly what happened. Instead of building a tractor and then a cab, the engineers designed the Sound Gard Body structure to encompass the entire operator’s platform. It was a massive change in thinking, and proved to be a really smart move!

Sound Gard Bodies isolated the farmer from the tractor. They rode on rubber bushings as opposed to bolting directly on to the frame. The bushings helped reduce vibration. Additionally, the curved front glass angled to deflect the noise away from the operator!

You’ll note that I keep referring to the Sound Gard “Bodies” as opposed to cabs. Deere was very intentional about NOT calling them Sound Gard “cabs” in their marketing. It’s a little bitty detail, but to Mother Deere, it was a pretty big deal! This was a big departure from traditional aftermarket cabs; they called it something different to grab the farmer’s attention. As you can see…it worked.

No more “in between gears”…

One of the issues that farmers experienced toward the end of the New Generation tractors was being stuck “in between” gears. The 4020 only had 8 forward speeds regardless of the transmission. Inevitably, farmers would run into situations where they felt like they were in between gears. Running in a lower gear meant winding the motor tighter than it should be. Running in a higher gear meant lugging the motor down where it wasn’t being efficient. Neither situation was a good one.

The introduction of the Quad Range transmission was a great big help in that regard. It gave the operator sixteen forward speeds; it was a lot easier to find the perfect speed with sixteen choices than it was with eight! Furthermore, within each range, the Quad Range would let you power shift the 1/2 and 3/4 shifts. That added a fair amount of convenience as well.

The Quad Range was a great gearbox for Deere, and they were produced for about 20 years. And while they’re not completely bulletproof, they’re pretty darn tough. There’s a bit of an art to shifting them (one that I haven’t exactly mastered).  But if not abused, they can last 10,000 hours or more before they need rebuilt. There’s a lot of die hard Quad Range fans out there, too. My buddy Kyle told me that he’d rather sit through eight hours of Dicamba training than drive an early Powershift for two!

If the data in our Iron Comps database (139 comparable sales) is any indication, the Quad Range vastly outsold both the Powershift and Synchro options!

Overall, the 4230 sold reasonably well. Not like 4430s did, but that was expected. By 1973, there were plenty of implements that a 100-horse tractor couldn’t handle very well, but the 4430 could. I believe the 4430 ended up outselling the 4230 by almost 2 to 1 over the 5 year production run.

The 4230 you can bid on right now…

Still, there are thousands of these tractors out there on the farm earning their keep, including this beauty near the Illinois/Indiana state line. It was among the last of the 1975 models, it’s a Quad Range tractor, and it’s only got 4453 original hours on it! It’s very clean on the inside, and the tinwork is clean and straight as well! Overall, it’s a lot better than average example of the John Deere 4230!

0119Sullivan4230cab
This interior looks pretty good for 46 years old!

Bidding is live on the auction right now, and it doesn’t end until January 19, 2021. As I write this blog post, the bid is sitting at $8250. That said, there’s still 5 days left on this auction. When it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this tractor sell for $18K+.

There will always be demand for clean, low-houred workhorses, no matter what horsepower range you’re talking about. This is one of ’em!

SEE THIS JOHN DEERE 4230

If you’re looking for a Deere for your operation (or collection, for that matter), start your search here.

 

IMG 3592
The John Deere 4230 was also one of the most customizable models in the Generation II lineup. Here are a handful of the variants all in the same barn in Iowa! Left to right, you’ll see a Hi-Crop, a HFWD open station, a gasser, a factory convertible front end, and a low-profile model sold to fruit & nut growers! If I remember right, these are all powershifts as well!

 

 

 

Big Bad John: The John Deere 6030

John Deere 6030
This big bad John Deere 6030 lives in southwest Iowa until the auction closes on December 16, 2020! Click the photo to see the details and lots more photos!

SEE THE AUCTION LISTING FOR THIS TRACTOR

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!

6030 Uselesstrivia Copy

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.

6030.hfwd.custom
John Deere never built a 4WD version of the 6030; adding another big heavy front axle and the components to make it work just didn’t make any sense. But where there’s a will, there’s a way…
6030.soundgard
There’s a handful of 6030s sporting Soundgard cabs running around the country. This one is probably one of the nicest ones I’ve seen. The fit and finish is just about perfect on it!
MarkBuchanan.6030T
This is probably the ultimate 6030 fantasy tractor. There’s a ton of videos on the internet of this one dragging everything from a chisel plow to a pulling sled! Really neat tractor!

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.

DSC01611
If you pay attention to the 4.1 Limited Pro Stock class, you probably know this tractor. Justin Wagler’s Real Deere is in a class all by itself. I’ve never seen a tractor run harder, and I’ve rarely ever met a nicer guy. Justin is currently beginning work on a Pro Stock to campaign on the Champion’s Tour in 2021.
DSC05542
The young lady in the pink helmet is my friend Sydnee Summers, and she stole the Colorblind tractor right out from under her dad’s nose while he wasn’t looking! The Summers family lives just outside of Kansas City, and 2020 was the year that Sydnee really upped her driving game. She routinely beats up on the boys, and does it with a smile! My guess is that Dad’s going to have to start shopping for another tractor here pretty soon so he can have fun behind the wheel again!
Curtis.selective
The man in the seat of this one is the bravest man I’ve ever had the opportunity to meet. He’s in the fight of his life right now with brain cancer, and the outlook is very grim. Still, you’ll rarely find Curtis Lewis without a great big smile on his face, even when he’s having a hard day.
DSC08272
This is one of those big bad huge-cube profarms from Wisconsin. Cody & Tyler Meister own this one together, and I’m proud to call those fellas my good friends.
DSC05880
I’ll bet I’ve taken a thousand photos of different 6030s, but this one will probably always be my favorite. The tractor belongs to Shawn Work, a friend of mine from Ohio. Since I took this photo in 2016, he’s done a LOT to this tractor; I’m looking forward to seeing it again in a few weeks!
River Rat
This is literally the first tractor that made me cheer when it pulled on to the track. I was 8 at the time, and I was pretty sure Don & Kevin Masterson were the biggest rock stars in the universe. (I still think that, and I still feel like that 8 year old kid walking into their trailer today.)

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! ?

 

John Deere 6030
SEE THE AUCTION LISTING FOR THIS TRACTOR

Final Hammer Price: $36000 (3rd highest price this year!)