It was a clear Saturday morning, the sun was shining, and the air was filled with the sound of engines. King Auction's 13th semi-annual Spring Antique Tractor Auction in Columbia City, Ind., was taking place and it was a huge success. More than 5,000 people attended the late March event to witness the array of tractors, pedal tractors, parts and miscellaneous items go on the block. A total of 2,500 buyer numbers were out, with 28 states and four Canadian provinces represented. This was a 100 percent consignment auction, with tractors coming from Canada to the east coast, according to Don King of King Auction Services.
A John Deere B 1940 hand-start with cast wheels set the tractor sales in motion, going at $750. At the end of the weekend, 517 running tractors of all makes and models had gone through the sale ring. Deere was well represented throughout the sale, as were International, Case and Ford.
More than 75 parts tractors were sold, with a 1929 John Deere GP standard (sporting a beam front axle and swing-away seat) bringing $6,400. A total of 3,600 items and parts were auctioned as well. Over all, King says, prices were up 20 percent from last year's sales.
The trend in the antique tractor market? Restored tractors are selling for higher and higher prices, but the parts tractors aren't far behind. The rougher, the better.
"They won't even look at a restored tractor," King says with a chuckle. "They want to do it themselves."
Orchard tractors seem to be particularly hot this season. The top price paid on an orchard tractor (a 1960 John Deere 620 G) at Columbia City was $20,500.
King puts on a similar auction in the fall.
"Each auction, the tractors get better..." King says. "This is a hobby that people want in. The collectors, for the most part, are 99.9 percent honest. They talk of the slow-paced life they used to live on the farms. They're good people."
1957 John Deere 730-D Electric start, $5,000; International Turbo, $4,250; Ford 8N with V8 Funk Conversion, $9,900; John Deere 1010 G PTO with power steering, $5,900; 400 IHC diesel Hi-Crop (one of 50 built), $5,100; 1939 unstyled Allis Chalmers wide front, kerosene powered, $3,000; 1950 Massey Harris Pony with factory loader, $3,900; 1970 John Deere 40/20 diesel with overhauled engine (no hours), $14,000;
1952 International Cub, with cultivators and hydraulics, $2,350; John Deere 420 W, all fuel, slant steer, $5,800; 1949 Ford 8N, $2,350; 1959 International 460 G wide front, $2,950; John Deere 730 diesel with power steering, $5,750; International Hi-Crop, new front end and tires, $7,400; 1954 Super MTA, $7,750; Oliver 60 Standard, $5,950; one-owner John Deere 40 dozer, with inside blade and manuals, $7,200; rare 1937 John Deere AW , $7,700;
Minneapolis Moline RT1, with overhauled engine and turf tires, $4,200; 1937 John Deere AOS Electric start, $18,000; 1960 John Deere 730 D, electric start, with overhauled engine, $9,000; 1957 International 450 G wide front, $7,400; styled John Deere L, no-tag, $3,600; 1959 John Deere 620 All-fuel Orchard, $17,250; 1947 John Deere BR electric, $5,100; overhauled F-12, full steel, single front, $1,400; Oliver 60 with side curtains, $2,900. FC