The State of the Antique Tractor Market

Winter Magazine 2023  | Aumann Vintage Power

By: Kurt Aumann

Anyone who has anything negative to say about the tractor market hasn’t been paying attention this year!  I often read online comments about how the tractor market is failing and there are no new collectors to support the hobby.  I really don’t know how to understand those statements.

There were probably more record-setting prices this year than any other time I can remember.  When the new world record is set by almost tripling the old one, you have to pay attention.  There are also more new people entering the hobby than I have ever seen before.  It’s waves and waves of new collectors.  They are collectors young and old, rich and poor, true enthusiasts and some with a passing interest.  Without a doubt though, the hobby is growing.

While some items are bringing astronomical numbers that very few can afford, they are far outnumbered by items that fit any budget.  You can still get into a tractor for a thousand or two and an engine for a few hundred bucks.  That fits anybody’s budget that has the will to save.  Nobody starts collecting by buying six-figure tractors, so the often quoted – “pricing everybody out of the market” doesn’t make practical sense.

To define strong and weak areas of the market, I’m going to leave the dollars out of it.  My thoughts are based on interest.  Where am I seeing the most interest?  The strongest areas of the market, in my opinion, have a few things in common – quality and rarity.  No matter what part of the market, those two traits combined bring out the buyers.

Early Pre-30 tractors, Muscle Tractors and the rare and unique tractors all have tons of interest along with anything original.  Even a common, high-production tractor or engine – if it’s an impeccable original, it’s getting tons of interest.  Really good, nice implements are super strong.  There are always a lot of collectors chasing those!

What do I see with waning interest?  Some of the more common tractors, especially from 1938 to 1960 have some really great buys in that group.  Hand crank, steel wheel tractors in that era don’t draw a lot of attention.  Rough stuff that needs a lot of work seems to suffer.  I think people have figured out how expensive it is to restore something!

Steam and gas engines probably have more interest than at any other time I’ve seen in the hobby.  It just seems like those numbers keep growing.  Really uniquely designed and early gas engines are in high demand and are being sought after by collectors at this time.  Good, usable steam engines that are inspected and ready to use, draw collectors from all over the world.  We don’t sell enough each year to come close to meeting the demand.

All in all, we are in one of the strongest tractor markets I’ve seen in many, many years.  Sure things go up and down, fall in and out of favor, but I’ve never seen the interest in the hobby as widespread and growing!