Rare & Restored


| July 2004



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Besides his big tractor, and 130 or so others in his collection

If Jerry Mez had known that spring day in 1988 that a semi-trailer loaded with an International Harvester Co. Model 4300 tractor would be whizzing by on Interstate 80 a mere mile from his implement dealership, he probably would've tried to stop it - which would have been quite a feat since the tractor itself weighed more than 40,000 pounds.

'I had been looking for an IH 4300 to add to my tractor collection for 15 years,' the 64-year-old Avoca, Iowa, tractor collector says, 'ever since we had one here as a demonstration model in the early 1960s. It always hung in the back of my mind that I wanted to get hold of one. It's a tractor not a lot of people know about.'

In fact, IH Model 4300 tractors are extremely rare for several reasons. First, the massive machines were built-to-order at a cost of about $12,000 each in the early 1960s.

As a result, only 44 Model 4300 tractors were manufactured - fewer than any other IH production tractor, except several that were stopped in mid-production when IH was bought out in 1984, such as models 7588 and 7788.

Secondly, it's nearly impossible to buy a tractor when only about six of the big, collectible beasts survive, Jerry says.

Tractor collecting

Jerry's interest in collecting big red tractors began 35 years ago when his father, Max Mez, owned the Avoca Implement Co., an IH dealership. One day, Max received a call from a farmer west of town who wanted to sell his fleet of five IH Model F-20 tractors.