Score a Classic Tractor Bargain – Now!
By Tom Seest
At ClassicTractorNews, we help classic tractor lovers keep up with the latest news for classic and vintage tractors.
Fox-body Mustangs fell out of fashion during the early ’90s for similar reasons, yet today, buyers with disposable funds are returning to old tractors at auctions as collectors looking for memories from childhood or nostalgic nostalgia.
Minnesota’s Star Tribune reports that classic tractors are commanding top dollar at auction.
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John Deere 3020 and 4020 tractors are some of the most iconic tractors ever built, dating back to their introduction in the 60s and remaining popular today. Even as classics, these John Deers offer reliable operation while remaining highly valuable despite their age. When purchasing one of these timeless machines, it is important to keep a few things in mind when making your purchase decision.
First, make sure your tractor is in good condition; otherwise, you could face costly repairs in the near future. One way of doing this is checking its serial number using Machinery Pete; additionally, check its year of manufacture to ensure you get an appropriate machine.
The 3020 was produced from 1964 to 1968, while its counterpart, the 4020, was manufactured between 1963 and 1972. Both models share many features, including synchro-range transmission and power front-wheel drive. Minor modifications were made during production, such as moving hydraulic levers from the left side of the dash console onto the console on the right of the operator for improved visibility, as well as installing a narrower oval muffler for easier visibility. Both tractors also came standard with optional equipment, including a Roll Gard hood protection system or enclosed cab options for additional protection.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is whether the tractor comes equipped with Power Front-Wheel Drive (PFWD). When this feature was introduced, it dramatically enhanced tractor performance and enabled them to compete against International Harvester 706 and 756 models. However, only those tractors that have this designation in their ledgers will actually be able to verify it as true.
As demand for these tractors continues to increase, prices must also keep pace. This is likely due to more people being interested in purchasing them and buyers willing to pay premiums to acquire these machines in original condition – leading to continued market expansion for these tractors in coming years.
International Harvester introduced its inaugural V8 tractor models, the 1468 and 1568, in 1968 and 1969, respectively. While these V8 tractors sounded fantastic when you opened the throttle, their exhaust note made for an unmistakable sound when opening up the throttle; unfortunately, though, they weren’t all that great farm tractors.
IH engineers used the DV-550 V8 from their truck division as the powerplant for these tractors, giving it more horsepower than inline sixes used on 1466 models but without being designed to do work – as such, they ran hotter and didn’t generate power at lower engine speeds as expected by farmers, necessitating more repairs at dealerships than expected. This forced many farmers into taking their machines in for repairs from mechanics regularly.
Another issue was the fact that these tractors only operated four of their eight cylinders when under load – something done deliberately to reduce noise but which meant they weren’t as reliable as six-cylinder models, ultimately leading most farmers to shy away from dealing with such machines.
These issues caused IH to produce only 2905 1468s and 1568s over four years due to their poor sales performance, but this did not improve matters at all. They attempted to address some issues by creating a larger version with a larger engine, but this had no positive effects.
These tractors are now very rare. Collectors find them desirable due to their aesthetic appeal and sound. Although not completely reliable, they still can be put through their paces for hard work if handled carefully.
Since 2010, I’ve spoken to many people who can recall watching IH V8 tractors sell at auctions for relatively modest sums back then. Although not worth as much today, their value has started rising significantly and might become more costly in future years.
Mark Hellier’s 1468 is equipped with double chrome straight pipes and twin turbos. Additionally, there appear to be some other modifications as well. A red dealer in NW Missouri offered kits to swap out DV-550 engines for DT-436s in these tractors; many people took advantage of them and swapped out engines, some ending up with holed blocks and bent con-rods – still fun if the damage could be repaired!
Minneapolis-Moline (a combination of Minneapolis Threshing Machine, Moline Implement, and Minnesota Steel and Machinery) introduced a vehicle known as Comfortractor to address multiple problems simultaneously. Able to work the fields during the week while taking families shopping or worshipping at church on weekends – all this in just one vehicle!
Named the UDLX for short, it took the popular Model U series tractor from the company and added a fully enclosed cabin styled after a sedan’s front-end styling. Inside, its cabin was equipped with radio, clock, windshield wipers, and sun-visors, as well as a cigarette lighter and jump seat to provide additional seating capacity for wives or kids. Furthermore, five gears enabled it to reach up to 40 mph speeds on roads.
UDLX was powered by a standard 283.7 cubic-inch high compression overhead-valve four-cylinder engine that produced 41-1/2 belt horsepower and 37.8 drawbar horsepower at 1,275rpm when operating normally; for highway travel, however, the road travel lever could disengage all gears except fifth for engine revving up to 1,785rpm to increase highway speeds. At 6,400 pounds, it weighed 34×8 rear tires while fronts measured 6.00-16.
Although boasting an impressive list of features, the UDLX failed to catch on. Perhaps due to feelings that any display of wealth was inappropriate during the late stages of the Great Depression, or perhaps it simply proved too different from driving an open tractor on roads at 40mph for their liking.
Today, UDLX collector tractors are highly sought-after items, and an exquisitely restored example can fetch as much as $200,000. One such tractor will be on its way to Mecum Auctions’ Gone Farmin’ sale in Davenport, Iowa, from November 17-19 (Hemmings is the media partner for this event). Of the approximately 150 sold between 1938 and 1941, approximately one quarter remain restored; two have found homes within museums while others can be found scattered across the country; however, the most valuable examples have been beautifully kept up and are kept upkeep over time; those with meticulous upkeep tendencies tend to fetch around $200k.
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