On The Auction Block

Classic Farm and Tractor – July/August 2019

By: Anthony Lovelace

Most of you know I love a good farm action. I don’t know how many I have attended over the years, but 16 years ago, I started writing down what things were bringing. I didn’t do it for every sale. Over the course of time, I have established a fair amount of auction results. Every now and again, I like to thumb back through the results and look at what kind of money things brought. Sixteen years really isn’t enough time to establish much of a trend or anything—I mean, as far as farming techniques go, things haven’t changed a whole heck of a lot. I think the biggest changes have been in technology involving computers, not whether you are running a disc or chisel.

What really catches my eye when I go through all those figures is those pieces of equipment that brought way too much or the ones that went for dirt cheap. On a couple of the auctions, I made little notes about this being a steal or that selling way too high and it’s interesting to look back and see if I would say the same thing today. I also wonder what certain pieces of equipment would bring at an auction today—would they bring more or less.

I thought it might be interesting to look at some of these together. One of the first auctions I recorded was a big one north of Alva on December 11, 2003. This sale featured two John Deere 9300 four-wheel drive tractors. One was a 2000 model with 1,236 hours on it, which brought $90,000, and the other one was a 1998 model with 5,007 hours on it and it brought $68,000. On May 16th of this year, a 1998 John Deere 9200 with 7,908 hours on it brought just $27,000. Seems like a lot of value lost in 16 years. I realize the 9200 is a smaller unit, but for being 21 years old, it didn’t have that many hours on it. If you do the math, it was only used a tick under 377 hours a year.

In contrast, the 1998 model 9300 that sold in 2003 with 5,007 hours on it was five years old when it sold for $68,000, being used 1,001.4 hours per year. I wonder what those two 9300s would bring today. I think what many of the older four-wheel drive tractors have against them is no GPS or, in short, technology. I also think the front wheel assist is making the four-wheel drives not very cost effective. The front wheel assist tractors are the SUVs of the farming world.

At that same sale in 2003, a 1998 New Holland Versatile 9682 with 3,052 hours sold for $62,500. A sale I attended on May 4th of this year had a 2008 Versatile 2335 with 2,660 hours on it and it sold for $70,000. The 9682 is to find out what these five tractors, the two John Deere 9300s, the 9200 and the two Versatiles cost new and figure which one held its value more. I would almost bet the 2008 Versatile 2335 would win that.

At that same sale in December 2003, there was a John Deere 4960 MFWD with 8,367 hours on it that brought $28,500. There was a 1988 John Deere 4450 with a John Deere 158 loader and 4,325 hours on it that brought $39,000 and another 4450, again with a John Deere 158 loader, built in 1985 with 12,000 hours on it and it still brought $22,000. At the time, I thought these tractors sold extremely well. Maybe even a bit high, but if I would have bought one of those units back then, I could have turned around and made some money.

In December of 2013, a John Deere 4450 with a John Deere 158 loader and 4,995 hours on it sold for $41,000. These tractors are holding their value really well. I did find one that seemed to have been a steal—in December of 2004, a John Deere 4450 with a JD 158 loader (they thought 4,005 hours but no one knew for sure) sold for $24,100.

For the Case guys, at a sale in St. John, Kansas on the 6th of November, 2004, a Case 930 LP (940) sold for a whopping $2,850. I had a Case 900 LP (910) that was one of only 1,000 built and I struggled to get $2,000 for it. At that same sale, a Case 1070 with 7,800 hours brought $4,100, while the Case 2390 with loader and 8,400 hours brought $8,300. I thought both those sold well.

Two years later in Cleo, Oklahoma, a 1982 Case 2390 with 7,064 hours on it sold for $11,500! On the 2nd of May 2009, a 1976 Case 1070 equipped with a Case 90 loader with 3,504 hours brought $4,750. That would have been a pretty good deal.

Skip ahead to February 2005 at a sale in Freeport, Kansas. There was a 1990 John Deere 4955 with 10,190 hours that sold for $20,500. At the same sale, a John Deere 4450 built in 1987 with 10,602 hours sold for $20,000. A guy could afford to put some money into those and still come out all right.

Just a few months later in Lewis, Kansas, a 1988 John Deere 4850 MFWD equipped with a 280 loader showing 12,945 hours sold for $30,000—I thought that sold well.

I hope you enjoyed looking at some of these old auction prices. Hopefully this vintage iron will keep maintaining value; we need to keep as much of it as we can in the field.