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The new collector tractor

GREG PETERSON 09/05/2012 @ 10:05am Greg Peterson writes "Machinery Pete" column for Successful Farming magazine and appears on the Machinery Show on RFD-TV, talking about trends in the used equipment market

Call it the new collector tractor. I'm talking tractors from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s, either in very good original condition or restored. I've watched momentum build over the past three years or so, and I've seen tons of new record-high prices the last half of 2011 through the first half of 2012 on these tractors.

Check out the records in the table at left to see for yourself.

So what's going on? Farm income has been very strong the last few years, so that definitely hasn't hurt. The number of auctions has fallen off a cliff vs. five to 10 years ago. That means more folks with more money are chasing fewer available good used tractors for sale.

Pure emotion

But by far, the biggest driver of this trend is pure and simple emotion.

What was the first tractor you remember driving with your dad or grandpa? If you were 10 years old back in 1970, that makes you 52 years old now. Are you likely to collect old A's, B's, C's, and D's from the 1930s and 1940s? Probably not.

But it would sure be awesome if you could find yourself a super nice IHC 1206, Oliver 2255, or Deere 3020, wouldn't it? Maybe the one Dad, Grandpa, your uncle, big brother, or older sis taught you how to drive back then. So just when the tractor you've been pining for – a low-hour, original or sharply restored IHC 1066 or Deere 4020 – comes up for sale, the bids just keep coming.

Two of my favorite tractors from this time period that have really taken off value-wise recently are the IHC 1468 and the Oliver 2255.

There's just something about the big red 1468 that intrigues: those smokestacks, the V-8 engines. From 1996 to 2008 the highest auction price I saw on an IHC 1468 was $13,500. Since 2009. I've seen seven sell for between $16,000 and $26,000.

As I write this column, it is nine days before a large collector auction in Rock Valley, Iowa, featuring three sharp-looking 1972 IHC 1468s with 5,981, 4,787, and 3,869 hours. I wonder how high they will sell?

It's the same with Oliver 2255s. From 1996 to 2008, the top price I saw was $11,250. Since 2009, I've seen 10 sell for $12,000 or more, including four that went from $23,000 to $28,500.

A son's connection

My favorite Oliver 2255 story involves a 1973 model with 4,844 hours that sold for a record $28,500 on a March 17 estate auction in northeast Iowa for Jerry Boevers.

I blogged about the sale on my website. Two days later, I got this email: “I am Monte Boevers, the youngest son of Jerry Boevers. His farm estate sale was March 17, 2012. I appreciate you mentioning his farm sale in your article today. I watched everything sell on Saturday with no problem. I honestly did not drop a tear until reading your article. My father passed away from pancreatic cancer on October 2, 2011. He was an Oliver man through and through. He worked for White Farm Equipment in Charles City, Iowa, from October 1962 until August 1993. He was employee number 1609. He took great pride in his machinery. He helped build all these tractors in Charles City. The three tractors we sold were all bought used, and he was the second owner. My father only bought one new tractor, and that was a 1973 Oliver 1655 gas with a wide front. My brother, Mark, is keeping this tractor in the family. Thanks again for your article. You made me very proud of my father.”

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