Farm Collector Blogs > Looking Back

Massey-Harris Sale in the UK

by Sam Moore

Tags: massey-harris,

I take an excellent magazine from Great Britain, or the U.K., as it’s generally referred to today. Named Vintage Tractor & Countryside Heritage, the magazine is published by Churn Lane Publishing Ltd., in the town of Market Deeping, Lincolnshire, and is edited by Stuart Gibbard, a well-respected British antique and classic tractor expert, with a number of books on the hobby to his credit.

VT allows me to keep up with the rusty iron hobby in the U.K. and Europe, and from its pages I frequently learn something about American tractors that I didn’t know.

For instance, the just received February 2012 issue clears up most of the mystery about the Galloway tractors that were supposedly ordered from England during World War I and never paid for, supposedly driving Galloway into bankruptcy (William Galloway – Mail Order Magnate, March 2009, Farm Collector). I’ll clear this up shortly in a letter to the magazine.

Also in the February issue is a story about a short film, called Ghost in the Machine, that was made in Britain and that stars a 1950s Massey-Harris Model 745, a uniquely British model built at the M-H factory in Kilmarnock, Scotland. Noreen, the heroine of the film, is a young farm girl who is made to work like a slave by her abusive father. By accident, Noreen finds an abandoned and derelict tractor in a dump on the farm.

In a story reminiscent of Stephen King’s Christine, the old tractor speaks to her, in an American accent no less, and is the only voice with a kind word for the girl. Noreen decides to rescue the decrepit old machine and fix it up. When the tractor has been almost restored to like new condition, the girl’s father discovers the project, realizes that the tractor is now quite valuable and vows to sell it. The magazine blurb doesn’t say how the film ends, but only that “… the tractor and a reawakened Noreen have something different in mind!”

Three different Massey-Harris 745 tractors were used in the film, one a rusty one to portray the machine as found, another rusty one without an engine to show it being worked on, and a completely restored one to be the finished product.

A Massey-Harris 745 
A Massey-Harris 745 on display at the Geraldine Vintage Car and Machinery Museum, Canterbury, New Zealand. Image courtesy Hugh McCall, 

As you may know, Massey-Harris tractors were popular in the British Isles, although not as much as Ferguson and Ford, and there are a lot of folks who collect them. The late Ian Robertson had amassed a large collection of Massey-Harris tractors and machinery, plus some other makes, at his farm in Hilton of Guthrie northeast of Dundee, Scotland.

At his estate dispersal sale on December 3, the following prices were realized with the price in British pounds converted to U.S. dollars by your humble correspondent, namely, me. As the exchange rate for pounds to dollars changes frequently, the dollar amounts are approximate.   

A restored 1938 M-H Challenger with a wide front, which had been sold new at a nearby implement show just before World War II began, brought the highest price of the sale at $27,804.

A 1950 M-H 744 diesel was hammered down at $15,459, and a 1955 745D at $11,748. A 1934 M-H GP 4-wheel drive brought $10,820, and a 1944 M-H 203, $9,119. $7,700 bought a 1940 M-H 201, a 1947 M-H 55K brought $6,491, and a rare M-H 25 from 1938 cost a lucky buyer $6,337. Other Massey-Harris tractors sold were a 1931 Model 12/20 for $7,266; a late 1930s Pacemaker, $8,655; and a 1938 Challenger ‘V,’ $6,491.

Of several “other makes” on sale were a 1949 Farmall M that went for $7,729, and a 1958 British-made International Super BWD6 for $6,802.

There were two M-H 701 pickup balers and one sold for $2,936, and the other for $927. A Massey-Harris No. 26, 2-bottom plow brought $1,391, while a No. 26, 3-bottom version went home with someone for just $772, while M-H No. 712 dung (manure to we colonials) spreader was worth $695 to someone.

Among other items, a vintage Sunshine and Massey-Harris Farm Implement catalog was knocked down for $495, and a “Genuine Massey-Harris Dealers Sign” brought $650. A carved stone horse watering trough sold for $1,020, a Cockshutt horse plow, $154; a 1913 Imaco stationary engine, $1,097; and a workshop manual for the Massey-Ferguson 165, 175, and 178, $293.

There was a lot more stuff there, but the above results hit the highlights and give you an idea of what the auction scene in the U.K. looks like.

Most collectors in this country are concentrating so much on the U.S. part of the hobby that they’re unaware of what goes on in the rest of the world. Vintage Tractor and Countryside Heritage is a good way to broaden ones horizons and learn what goes on across the pond.