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The super beast of a tractor
I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve written an Interesting Iron. Between traveling back home to Michigan, working on a new product we’re about to release, covering tractor pulls and auctions, and a few other things, it’s been pretty darn busy!
Nearly everywhere I’ve been, the crops are looking pretty good. Hope yours are doing well too!
Hey, by the way, my nephew Evan and I made the most VIOLENT harvest video EVER while I was back home in Michigan.
This week, we go “super beast mode” in Indiana, talk about how the Magnum helped unify two companies that didn’t really want to come together, and visit a really cool heritage farm show you’ll want to put on your calendar for next year. Let’s get at it!
Allis Chalmers was covering new ground during the 1970s. The ground-breaking 7000 series was selling well, and they’d dipped their toes in the four-wheel-drive (4WD) tractor market with the Steiger-built model 440 earlier in the decade. Things were going well enough that in 1976, they unleashed “The Beast” – the 7580. It was AC’s first in-house 4WD tractor, and it ported a bunch of nice improvements over the outgoing 440.
But at 186 PTO horse, it was a little wussy for such a big tractor. Customers needed more horsepower.
In 1977, AC unleashed a badder animal, the model 8550, known as The Super Beast. The Super Beast used one of the biggest motors Allis ever stuffed in a tractor, a 731-cubic-inch twin-turbo muscle-bound power plant rated at 253 PTO hp.! This tractor was literally so big that they had to disassemble part of it to get it into the Nebraska lab for testing!
This particular 8550 (seen above) is a one-owner 1979 model with only 5,342 hours. And it’s in GREAT shape for its age! Not only that, it still sees regular use on the farm! It lives in Indiana until Tuesday ... then we’ll see where this big tractor ends up since it’s for sale!
There is a funny story about another Super Beast. Back in the day, AC had a strong marketing partnership with Loretta Lynn. Lynn and her husband, Mooney, had a working hobby-type ranch in Tennessee, and farmed with orange tractors. Early one Sunday morning, one of the local dealers got a frantic call from Mooney.
Apparently he’d learned that Super Beasts can’t swim. I believe the story goes that there’d been a little Saturday night drinking involved, and he’d driven it into a pond and cooked the motor in the process.
After a bit of "discussion" between the involved parties, Allis replaced the motor in that tractor, and it’s still working on a farm in Ohio today!
I’ve written about Magnums before, and I’ll probably do it again, because there are a lot different angles to the Magnum story. It wasn’t that they were just great tractors; for many farmers, they still set the standard!
The process of merging J.I. Case and IHC wasn’t exactly easy. With overlapping equipment lines, models on both sides were scrapped. It was a business move, but inevitably, feelings got hurt. Whether perceived or real, there was definitely a wedge between Case and IH employees (dealers, too).
Everybody in the new company knew their future depended two things: America had to survive the farm crisis, and the Magnum had to be a big hit. The employees knew they had a really solid product. Still, if either of those two things didn’t happen, those employees were going to be looking for new jobs in a time when new jobs weren’t real easy to get. When you’re fighting for your job, you tend to band together and bust it a lot harder.
The Magnum became the bridge-builder and put the "us" and "them" mentality to bed for Case and IH. They banded together because they had to and built a tractor that America still relies on to this day. Hard to argue with that kind of determination, isn’t it?
This Magnum 7130 MFWD is a super-clean one-owner tractor with just under 7,200 hours on the meter. It lives in Montana right now, and our friends at Pifer’s Auction & Realty (pifers.com) are sending it home to a new owner on Thursday, August 6!
Fun Fact: The first Magnum off the line was a 7140 MFWD. Case IH worked it so hard that it was eventually scrapped. The second one off the line? It was a 7130, and it still exists today!
The Blackmore Corner Antique Farm Show
This Interesting Iron is all about a road trip to the best heritage farm show you’ve never heard of. It's a little off the beaten path just south of Ellston, Iowa, and it’s awesome!
Now in its 10th year, the Blackmore Corner Antique Farm Show is the brainchild of the Dolecheck family. It started as a way to play with old iron that they (and their neighbors) had used over the years. Since then, it’s grown quite a bit, with a lot of iron being trailered in from the surrounding area! The day before the show, they host a 70- to 80-mile-long tractor ride and a big cookout, too, so it’s a full weekend!
The afternoon that I was there, they were threshing wheat with an old belt-driven thresher (running off of an old F-20, no less). In another area, there were six or eight plows hard at work turning the dirt! The plan was to pick corn the following day using a variety of pickers and some old combines, but intermittent rain hampered their plans.
They ended the Saturday night festivities with an old-style tractor pull. Lots of kiddos sitting on hay bales, lawn chairs in the bed of old Chevys, that sort of thing. I love pulls like that!
The iron was plentiful, and quite varied; I'm pretty sure I saw every major company represented. Here are a few photos I took while I was there. I posted a bunch more on our blog – go check ’em out! Check out the full gallery!
The Dolechecks don’t do a lot of marketing for this show, but they do have a Facebook page that has more information and some cool drone footage from past year shows. I would expect this show to grow quite a bit over the next few years, so if you’re able to come out, I’m sure they’d love to have you!
For more information about the sale tractors mentioned before and to track current sales from the over 400 auctioneers listed at our site, go to tractorzoom.com.
Hi! I’m Ryan, and I love tractors. It doesn’t matter if it’s a showpiece, an oddball, or seen its share of life ... if it’s unique and it’s listed by one of our auctioneer partners at Tractor Zoom, I’m going to show it off a little bit! This equipment is all up for auction RIGHT NOW so you can bid on it. I think it’s cool, and I hope you will, too! This is Interesting Iron!