Vintage Tractor Values Continue to Rise

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This restored McCormick I-30 (Industrial) with new tires recently sold for $2,200 at a King Auction Service sale at Columbia City, Ind.
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Bruce Brooks sold this 1947 restored John Deere A at a recent Nebraska auction for $3,000
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Bruce Brooks' 1959 JD 730 with umbrella and original paint (at left in the photo) sold for $5,600. His JD 720 with dozer blade and original paint (far right) brought $4,500.

Whether you’re interested in buying a vintage tractor for restoration, or possibly in selling one, you’ve likely noticed a jump in values in recent years. Some early leaders like the John Deere B’s maybe haven’t risen as much (unless they’re early or rare models), but others – like the International Harvester Model H – have nearly doubled in the past five years.

Prices vary a lot according to location, condition and number of bidders.

Donald R. King, who heads King Auction Service, South Whitley, Ind., says that most vintage tractors have seen steady price increases recently, both those needing restoration, and those fully restored.

“For complete parts tractors that are fairly rare or uncommon, the market is up,” he says. “People are very much seeking out rarer ones like orchards, high crops and the like, regardless of the condition.”

Greg Peterson, publisher of the F.A.C.T.’S Report, says price woes in agricultural markets haven’t spread to vintage tractors.

“With grain and cattle prices sagging further as 1998 wears on, the market value of used working farm equipment has begun to suffer as well,” he says. “But one area of the used equipment market that has withstood the sagging prices has been the antique tractor market. Driven by collectors, as well as the ‘fixer-uppers’, the market value of vintage tractors has steadily been on the rise throughout the 1990s.”

A Nebraska man who recently sold some vintage tractors says good buys can still be found in tractors needing restoration. Bruce Brooks, Cambridge, Neb., says a 1948 John Deere Model B with new motor parts recently sold for $350 in his area. But buyers should be realistic, he says.

“Buy the best tractor you can find,” he says. “The rough, cheaper one is not always the best buy. It will take more money and time than the better tractor. A lot of times, you can buy the more common, restored ones for less money than it takes to restore one.” FC

The FA.C.T.’S Report, covering most types of tractors and equipment, is available by subscription at $39.95 per year. The subscription includes publications on a quarterly basis, plus access to a data base listing individual pieces of equipment available at upcoming auctions. For more information, call 1 (800) 381-0423.

Gary Van Hoozer is a Missouri writer specializing in vintage agriculture and farm history. 

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