30 Year Old Tractors Felt Like Antiques 30 Years Ago - Not Today

I was 23 years old, about to turn 24, when I started compiling auction sale price data on all types of farm and construction equipment 30 years ago.

Year was 1989. No internet back then, or cell phones, or social media. I published four quarterly auction price books a year, starting with MN auctions, then adding IA and SD before moving on to cover all North America in the years to follow.

When I set out on this journey 30 years ago of compiling auction sale price data, it felt to me at the time as though, generally speaking, 30 year old Tractors were “Antiques”.

Today…definitely does NOT feel like 30 year old Tractors = Antiques. Nope, 30 year old Tractors today still working assets, ones in good condition with lower hours highly valued, not so much as collector items, but more so as working tractors.

Very interesting exercise I think to compare 30 year old Tractors then to 30 year old Tractors now.

But how to compare?

Easy. Let’s look at auction sale prices.

Here’s a look at the (20) highest auction sale prices from back in the year 1989 on tractor models in the 30 to 30+ year old range:


How interesting to note that the HIGHEST auction sale prices on 30-ish year old Tractors back in 1989 sold in a very tight price range from basically $2,000 - $3,000.

And as I mentioned earlier…at the time those 30 to 35 year old Tractors made in the mid to late 1950’s definitely felt like there were considered to be “Antiques”.

Ok, now let’s shift forward to today as 2019 winds down. Here’s a look at the 20 HIGHEST auction sale prices so far this year on Tractors made from 1986 - 1989, so 30+ years old now:


Not $2K - $3K anymore, not by a long shot. Now the nicest 30-ish year old Tractors selling roughly in the $40K - $60K range.

And definitely NOT what we think of as “Antique” Tractors.

Here’s a picture of the highest selling 30 year old Tractor at auction this year…a 1989 model JD 4955 MFWD with 2225 hours sold for $71,000 on a 2/23/19 farm auction in Saint Mary’s, OH.

2nd place was this 1989 CaseIH 9180 4WD with 6232 hours sold for $60,000 on a 2/28/19 farm auction in De Soto, KS.

Tied for 2nd highest price this year on 30 year old Tractor was this 1989 JD 4455 MFWD with 1383 hours sold for $60,000 on 6/1/19 consignment auction in Upper Sandusky, OH.

Also tied for 2nd highest price was this 1988 JD 4050 2WD with 3057 hours sold for $60,000 on 7/12/19 farm auction in Pierz, MN.

Obviously LOTS has changed in farming and in life in general vs 30 years ago in 1989. Tremendous innovation indeed. Everything is BIGGER. Quantum leap from 1959 model Tractor to 1989 model and likewise huge leap from 1989 model to 2019 model.

1959 MODEL TO 1989 MODEL

1989 MODEL TO 2019 MODEL

But if we start digging into the “why” around 30 year old Tractors today not feeling or seemingly like “Antiques” as the late 1950’s models definitely did back in 1989, we don’t have to dig too deep to find our root cause.


The ever RISING price of New equipment has continued to pull UP on the value of good used farm equipment. To the point that 30 to 35 year old Tractors in good condition with average to below average hours are very, very sought after…as reliable working assets for your farm.

Not as Antiques.

Link to (93) 1989 model Tractors For Sale Today: https://tinyurl.com/rve928r

Machinery Pete

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