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Two-wheel-drive tractors are hot

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My friend, Jim Freeburg of Red Wing, Minnesota, held his retirement farm auction on August 13, 2011. He had one heck of a line of equipment.

The pieces were all low-hour stuff, one owner, always shedded. It's the kind of used equipment that buyers drool over.

The highlight of the sale was Freeburg's 1991 Case IH 7110 two-wheel-drive tractor with just 1,477 hours on its tach. It sold for a new record auction sale price of $57,000.

Smashing record price

That was a record price for all 7110s — including front-wheel-assist models. Freeburg's 7110 not only set a new record-high auction sale price, but also smashed the prior record price of $43,000, established all the way back on a November 26, 1996, farm auction in south-central Minnesota. That was for a 1992 Case IH 7110 two-wheel-drive tractor with 1,625 hours.

I've had the pleasure of talking with Freeburg a few times since his retirement auction in 2011. Each time we've spoken, I've been able to tell him his Case IH 7110 record sale price was still hanging on — even if only by a thread after a couple close calls.

It was on a December 7, 2012, farm auction in southeast Nebraska, a 1991 Case IH 7110 two-wheel-drive tractor with 3,500 hours finally nipped Freeburg's record price and sold for $58,000.

More record prices

Dating back to mid-2011, quite a number of new record auction sale prices on two-wheel-drive tractors were set all over the country.

Check out the data table on the previous page and note all those record prices highlighted in red. They represent 14 new record-high prices.

The record-breaking trend picked up speed late in 2012. Here are two examples:

• 1998 Case IH 8920 two-wheel-drive tractor with 3,106 hours that sold on a November 24, 2012, farm auction by Beyer Auction & Realty in northwest Iowa. It sold for $69,500.

• At a November 3, 2012, auction in north-central Iowa, a 1999 John Deere 7810 two-wheel-drive tractor with 2,200 hours sold for $87,500.

Another interesting twist was spotting rare, larger horsepower two-wheel-drive tractors selling for big bucks at auction, such as the 200-hp. 1991 John Deere 4955 two-wheel-drive tractor with 4,600 hours. It sold for $54,000 on a December 7, 2012, farm auction in north-central Indiana.

A 200-hp. model, 1988 John Deere 4850 two-wheel-drive tractor with 2,390 hours sold for $41,750 on a sale the same day in west-central Illinois.

Front-wheel drives are hot, too

New records aren't just being set on two-wheel-drive models. There are lots of new record-high prices being clocked on good used front-wheel-assist tractors. The perfect example is a Case IH 7130. It was one of four in a series introduced as the Magnum tractors 25 years ago last year. The line included the 7110, 7120, 7130 (shown above), and the 7140.

Within a 15-week period late in 2012, a new record-high auction sale price was set three times on Case IH 7130s. Previously, the high watermark had been set on a September 9, 1996, auction in northwest Missouri. That's wen a 1991 model with 890 hours sold for $56,000.

Deere 4255 Sets a Record High of $72,000

A 1992 John Deere 4255 two-wheel-drive tractor with 1,850 hours that sold for a record price of $72,000 on the March 26, 2011, consignment auction in northeast Iowa was the last Serial No. 4255 made by Deere.

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  That record stood until:

• August 23, 2012, when a 1992 model sold in southwest Minnesota for $62,000.

• November 24, 2012, when a 1992 model sold in southeast Iowa for $66,000.

• December 7, 2012, when a 1990 model with 3,886 hours sold in southeast Nebraska for $68,000.

What will be interesting in 2013 is to see what extent the planned changes (lower write-off limits) to Section 179 of the IRS tax code will have on the used equipment market. You can count on auction prices telling the tale.

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