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Machinery Pete: Guessing the price on a unique tractor in an online auction

Agriculture.com Staff 11/11/2009 @ 1:23pm

Central Kentucky farmer Terry Waldridge could be fiddling a happy tune next Wednesday.

Waldridge is the owner of a 1969 John Deere 4000 tractor up for sale on eBay currently. No big deal there, right? Lots of Deere tractors for sale on eBay as well as other websites. But Terry's Deere tractor is special.

Very special.

Turns out the 1969 JD 4000 he's owned for the last 15 or 16 years was the very first model 4000 ever made by Deere, serial number 211422. Waldridge, a native of the Blue Grass state who also happens to play in a bluegrass band, only recently discovered his 4000 was the first to roll off the Deere assembly line 40 years ago.

"I paid $8,500 for it back when I bought it from a local machinery guy," said Waldridge. "I've been using it right along to roll hay and haul manure. It's been a good tractor. I had it down to a local shop a while back and the mechanic came out and said it was the first serial number for a Deere 4000."

Click here to view a video of this rare 1969 JD 4000, the first made by Deere.

Waldridge began to feel around for what his tractor might be worth. The first call he made was to well known auctioneer and antique tractor expert Dennis Polk of northern Indiana. Polk offered to buy the tractor for $25,000. Waldridge wasn't in a hurry to sell. He continued to check around.

Last summer Waldrige and his wife Pam made their way up to Salem, Illinois to attend an antique tractor show. "I stumbled into a guy there who sells specialty parts for antique tractors," said Waldridge. "I told him I think I've got the first serial number Deere 4000 tractor. He got out his book and said yeah, you do."

The antique parts guy told Terry he thought it was worth $50,000 to $60,000.

"I don't hear so well," said Waldridge. "I thought he said $15,000, but then we walked a bit and my wife told me, no, he said $50,000."

Queue the knock me over with a feather moment, like you see on the PBS program "Antiques Roadshow," the part where the appraiser tells the lucky soul how much their old knickknack is worth? "It's worth HOW much?"

Gulp.

Central Kentucky farmer Terry Waldridge could be fiddling a happy tune next Wednesday.

What do I think this tractor is worth? Well, pretty darn hard to compare it to much else. There just aren't many original 40-year old first serial number Deere tractors around out there now are there? I guess one tractor I'd compare it to is the 1963 JD 5010 with serial no. 1000, the first 5010 made by Deere, sold on eBay back in early December 2006. That 5010 was in northeast Oklahoma and was in rough shape. It had been used for years and years by a local construction firm to pull a sheepsfoot roller.

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