Auction sees $90,000 paid for rare tractor

Once in a great while, a deal falls into your lap that you just can't say no to.

Now the variables that affect exactly what constitutes a deal are manifold, and are usually unique to the parties involved.

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It is perhaps fair to say then that the auction held in Moosomin by Mack Auction Company on Saturday, Oct. 2, saw everyone who was involved in one particular sale finish the day as a winner.

The Pranke Farm Equipment Auction would've likely been like many others that take place throughout North America.

A family retires from farming, and their equipment is then sold off to the highest bidders.

But what marked the Pranke auction as exceptional was the farm tractor.

The John Deer 8020 series tractor is perhaps nothing more than a 50 year-old tractor to most.

But for that rare breed of people who collect tractors, the JD 8020 could be described as nothing short of the holy grail of tractors.

"At first we just thought it was another old family farm tractor," said Norman Mack of the Mack Auction Company. "When I started doing some research on the internet that was when I began to realize that we had something special on our hands."

A simple Google search of 'John Deere 8020' shows many hits, with people all over North America looking to acquire on of these rare tractors.

"The 8020 was the first tractor made with the now-common four-wheel drive," Mack said. "It also had a number of other aspects that made it a tractor ahead of its time."

"The problem with it was that it was so ahead of its time, that the price-tag left it unaffordable to most farmers," Mack said. "The original MSRP was $30,- to $31,000. In 1962, that was a huge sum."

With sales slow due to the large price, the 8020 had a relatively brief existence.

One website reports that the 99 tractors that were produced all rolled off the assembly lines at the Waterloo, Iowa John Deere factory in 1961, but the tractors were available for sale through direct-John Deere distributors until 1964.

"Reading up on the tractor, we began to get a feel for how rare and sought-after these tractors were," Mack said. "Out of the 100 produced, 74 were still known to exist, tracked by their serial numbers."

"The Pranke farm had been using the tractor in the fields right up until retirement," Mack said. "I'd say that is a testament to how well-built the tractor is, and offers a further explanation of why the tractor is so popular with collectors."

With antique and vintage tractor collecting a growing hobbyist field, prices for older tractors have been steadily rising for a decade now.

John Deere tractors, with their signature green-and-gold colouring, are especially sought after. This is doubly true in the United States where national pride is bound with the John Deere name in the minds of many ag producers.

"After we had advertised the tractor, we received many responses from all over the place, but especially a large number from the U.S." Mack said. "When the auction came around we had about 60 bidders on hand from the U.S. and a large number on our internet auction site as well."

Mack indicates that he initially estimated the tractor to go for anywhere from $35,000 to $85,000, accounting for the economic conditions as they stand at the moment.

"Once the bidding started, it was like a riot," Mack laughed about the event. "The price shot up so fast, between the bidders on hand and those bidding on the internet, it was pretty dizzying."

The price shot up from the initial bid of $10,000 to $75,000 in the first 10 seconds of bidding according to Mack, and it continued to climb from there.

"It was pretty amazing to see so many people on board for the bidding," Mack said. "As an auctioneer, it is one of those situations that you love finding yourself in."

When the bidding final ended, the total for the tractor stood at $90,000.

"The winner has asked that he remain anonymous," Mack said. "All I can say is that he was from Wisconsin."

The $90,000 total was a record for Mack, in terms of an antique tractor, and while the final price beat his high end expectations for the sale, he wasn't totally surprised.

"Collectors like things in their original condition, with all the parts and original paint scheme intact," Mack said. "The Pranke 8020 was in virgin condition, with no additions or alterations done to it. It even had its original paint-job and decals still in place."

"Another thing collectors like is early numbers from the production line," Mack said. "This tractor was number 14 off the line by the serial number, so that added to its collector value as well."

"I think this might be one of the highest prices paid for an 8020 to date," Mack said. "The next highest I found went at an auction for $62,000 U.S. That was a couple of years ago too."

The highest price paid for an antique tractor at an open auction was $162,000 for a 1920 John Deere 'N' model tractor at an auction in Wisconsin in 2008.

The John Deere 8020 series featured a Detroit Diesel six-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine, capable of producing 215 hp at 2,100 rpm.

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