Antique tractors are a reminder of our nation’s past — a now rustic, integral model of ingenuity and industrialism. Antique enthusiasts might seek them out both for “show” and for practicality, as these machines are still very usable in the current day. Regardless of your desire, an un-modified antique tractor is a great at-home project. Here are several pointers for finding the right deal on one, including the tips and tricks about what to look for — and look out for.
What To Look For In An Antique Tractor
Much like buying a classic car, an antique tractor is both an expense and an investment. They’re still usable pieces of farm equipment when in running order, and are worth far more when they run. This is why the people who seek them out either for collection or use go through lengths to ensure they work…even if they’ll do nothing more than sit pretty as an ornament.
In planning to get an antique tractor up and running, be mindful that you’ll more than likely have to invest more money beyond the initial purchase of the tractor.
It will undoubtedly need new parts — specifically, original ones, as well as standard exterior work including a fresh paint job and decals. As stated before, an antique that’s in working condition is worth far more than one that isn’t, regardless of what it’s being used for.
Owners who seek antiques for stationary/decorative purposes are more concerned with aesthetics rather than inner workings and engine or drive train modifications. Others who simply wish to show their antique off with fellow enthusiasts at shows and meets are concerned with both aesthetics and performance. Farmers who wish to use the antique as an actual working piece are more about restored internals and a solid, working build.
Which of these scenarios describes you? Your answer will dictate the direction you’ll take in regard to your next series of purchases or actions needed.
Finding Antique Parts
Parts are always a major consideration when considering a make or model of antique tractor. The older the tractor (or the more obscure or rare of the make or model), the more difficult it may be to find the parts necessary to get it fixed. This is why top name-brand antique tractors continue to be the most sought out; including but not limited to John Deere, Farmall, Minneapolis Moline and McCormick.
There is some good news: it is possible to find OEM parts these days that are still being machined by various shops across the country. In some cases, these are your only hope, and the parts themselves might not be as painfully expensive as you might have imagined.
Original antique parts are still widely available on the aftermarket. Due to the durability of the way things were made many years ago, these parts are still very much so reliable, after a little polishing up.
“Flipping” A Restored Antique Tractor
Similar to flipping a house (buying a “fixer upper,” restoring it and selling it for a profit), the tactic of doing so for antique machinery is very much so alive and profitable for those who take the time and effort to do it right.
If you have mechanical or auto body experience, or the proper metal shop tools, consider yourself to have an incredibly important skill that will give you the upper hand in restoring your antique. By doing so, it’s possible to make a profit that far exceeds the investment you put down to buy the raw antique.
As seen in television shows like “American Restoration,” “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers,” investors buy, sell and restore antiques every day by disassembling, cleaning, re-painting and re-assembling antiques for dramatic profits in re-sale. An antique tractor can be sold through numerous means, ranging from online classifieds through sites like CraigsList, local classified ads in the paper, and local auctions. It’s a great side job for a retiree or even an unemployed person who is looking to do what they love, and make some money in the process.
Determining What a Fair Price Should Be
Thanks to the internet, it’s quick and easy to see what specific makes and models of tractors are selling for, and have already sold for in the past 30 days. Here on TractorSpot, you can even check our current listings to get the gist of what owners are pricing their antiques for. The roundabout price you’ll continually see will dictate the general market value of an antique tractor based on its condition and demand. As always, certain models are considered rare if they had a lesser production number than others at their time of manufacture.
When you’ve found the antique you’re interested in, be mindful not only of the cost of the tractor, but the cost and availability of the parts that might be needed to restore it, as well as the cost of delivering it to your home or office. When purchased online, tractor sellers typically prefer local buyers for free pickup only. However, many if not most will provide or recommend delivery services via flatbed or standard trucking for an additional fee. Be sure you know what you’re getting into with the total cost of the purchase, which includes the shipping fee.
Don’t Be Hasty!
It’s easy to want to jump on a deal for a certain make and model of antique tractor when it becomes available, due to the fear of these tractors being “finite” in the sense that there are only so many of them left in the world. However, it also makes sense to take your time and note how many of these models have been sold in the past month. If the answer is “many,” then you’ll know to expect more of them to appear in the market within the next few months. Never rush toward making a large purchase when something better might be around the corner, unless you’ve found a truly unique deal.
Remember: every day, ‘pickers’ and former owners release more antiques into online sales and auctions. Older folks get rid of their antiques because it’s taking up room on their property, or becoming too much for them to care for. Lastly, other sellers are simply looking to make some extra cash by selling off their antiques. These are the reasons why so many antique tractors hit the market each day, and why there’s always hope for that one unique deal to become available at some point.