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Best iron buys of the week

Last week was marked by a surprising supply of tractors selling at auction as was witnessed by the Steffes Groups (steffesauction.com) online-only sale. These transactions comprised late, late model tractors as opposed to four-year-old or younger horsepower.

I isolated out of the sale several four-wheel-drive tractors built over nearly a 40-year period. Those tractor sales included:

  • $9,300 given for a 1981 Versatile 895 with just 4,018 hours (the auction listing stated “shows 4,018 hours,” which always brings into question whether those are the actual hours or not). It is remarkable how those old Versatiles have kept their value so well. Yet, this final bid can be easily accounted for if those were this tractors’ actual hours.
  • $18,250 given for a 1991 Ford Versatile 846 with 6,066 “actual” hours. That tractor was a “Designation 6” and sold with a new cab reliner kit installed. Boy oh boy, you just can’t beat the appeal of that new showroom smell in a cab!
  • $18,250 was given for a 1995 Deere 8870 with 6,686 actual hours. This tractor came with an extra cab lighting package and eight rear wheel weights.
  • $38,200 given for a 1998 Deere 9300 with a 24-speed transmission. No hours were listed with that tractor.

My simple takeaways from these sales are:

A. Imagine, the previous owner of that 1981 Versatile 895 put just 238 hours a year on the tractor.

B. At $9,300 that Versatile could be used simply to pull a huge grain cart to justify the cost of the tractor. You sure can’t beat the value provided in old, low-hour 4WDs!

READ MORE: Tractor Zoom soars to 400 auction partners

Red tractors highly sought by collectors

The Steffes sale also confirmed that the hottest thing in antique power continues to be International Harvester tractors.

For example, an IHC “Black Stripe” 1086 (no year or hours listed) sold for $13,200. That tractor is seen above.

This confirms that red “muscle” tractors from the late 1960s and 1970s are highly sought after by collectors. Another example of this (although this tractor wouldn’t nessarily be considered a muscle tractor) was the sale of an IHC 766 (again, no year listed) showing 7,633 hours that sold for $7,500.

A 1964 John Deere 3020 showing just 2,563 hours and in running original condition did bring $5,600. 

Why did the 3020 bring nearly $2,000 less than the 766?

Well, far more Deere 3020s (built between 1964 and 1972) were built than IHC 766s (1971-1976) making the 3020, as well as its big brother, the 4020, more common. New Generation (3010s and 4010s, for example) and subsequent Deere models were turned out in huge numbers making them more readily available today.

And as for the 1086 bringing $13,200 . . .well, this particular model IHC is red-, red-hot right now with collectors. Other colors of muscle tractors of this era (IHC, Minneapolis-Moline, and Oliver, for example) are more highly sought out than green horsepower. For example, a Minnie-Mo G1355 brought $12,000 at last week’s Bigiron.com online-only sale. That tractor received no less than 120 bids . . . talk about being highly sought after!

My indulgent buy of the week

One item from the Bigiron.com sale that caught my fancy was a 1990 Army A&M General 6×6 flatbed truck that sold for $1,200. The truck was showing 34,808 miles (1,016 hours) and was equipped with an 8.3-liter Cummins turbo diesel and Allison automatic tranny.

Why did it sell so cheap? Well, that Cummins had a hole in its block. (Oops, someone forgot to check the coolant last winter.) Plus, the transfer case on the truck was stuck in high gear.

OK . . . that would explain the truck’s low cost. 

Still, provided the engine wasn’t totally toasted (I’m guessing the stuck transfer case would be a fairly simple problem to fix), for $1,200 you would get an Army SIX-WHEEL-DRIVE TRUCK! 

Imagine going hunting with the guys in this truck next fall. Put a heated cabin on the flatbed and you would have the ultimate mobile deer stand! Actually, that truck could be made into a great field service truck . . . that still could be converted to the ultimate mobile deer stand after harvest was over. 

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