Antique Tractors a Passing Fad?

Submitted Article
Talk of the Town
Antique Tractors a Passing Fad?'
by Tractor Talk Forum Participants

This recent discussion on the Tractor Talk discussion board here at Yesterday's Tractors drew so much response and proved to be so interesting that we wanted to share it with you here. The names of the people participating in the discussion have been left out to "protect the innocent" (to quote a once-popular television series).

The discussion started out with the following post:

"I know this has been asked, but do you guys see antique tractors going out like a fad? Value has come down this winter. An example is the Ford Model A and T cars that went through this in my area years ago, along with the hit & miss engine. Will the younger generation move on to something else? Will it be harder to sell them and what models will be affected? Could we see the value crash on our rusty relics? "

What followed are some very interesting replies:

"I am thinking that as long as there will be motorheads there will be tractor enthusiasts. "

" I see the interest in it eventually leveling out. Just like anything else, it will peak and then it will cool off. I frankly am not concerned if the value goes down; I'm not in this to make any money. I'm in it because I like the tractors and I especially like the people. You will find some of the nicest people involved with old iron. "
" I would guess that some of it is due to the fact that the generation who had a childhood attachment to the "old iron". For example, I grew up with JDs, 36B, 44B, 46A, 50A, and later a 50 and a 70. I have no real interest in the D's or other 2 cyl JDs, and even less the newer models. After I was on my own the guy I worked for had a Farmall M and MTA and thus have a slight interest in those. What was familiar in our youth we have an attachment for in later years. "
" I am hoping with all my heart that this is NOT just a passing fad, but being a second generation collector, I look around at the people who show up to our club's membership meetings, or at our annual reunions, and I don't see many people my age (31) or younger getting involved. Compund that with the events with the Steam Engine Explosion in Medina Ohio, and club insurance is going to be so hard to get that we may have limited places to show our treasures. Younger people these days are having to work two or more jobs just to make ends meet, then that leaves little time and money for restoring and collecting. I just finished restoring a Case "L" and it took a lot of saving and PB&J lunches to get the project completed. Replacement parts are getting more expensive, and parts tractors are getting harder to find. My question is this, especially to all of you older collectors: What would you do? Being one of the youngest members of my club's Board of Directors, it's hard to convince the older folks that something needs to be done NOW to attract the attention of the younger crowd. How would you attract younger blood to make the time to get involved and keep the flame going? And more importantly, what is the answer for the steam collectors who can't even bring their toys out of the barn because insurance is through the roof? As for me, I plan to keep on collecting and showing as long as there is someone else out there interested in looking at it. "
" I personally don't care much if the values decrease as I am not in the hobby to make money. Most of the people that I know are just in the hobby for the love of tractors. In my opinion the tractor hobby is not particularly expensive. You can have 4 or 5 very nice tractors including a nice trailer for the price of a bass boat. I think the drop in some prices are directly related to the current economic conditions and will increase again as the situation improves. "
" I hope that it passes like a fad. I have seen alot of people who are buying the tractors as a investment and dont care or have never been around equipment. Dont get me wrong I like to see people become interested in old tractors, but I dont like to see people buying it for 500 just to pass it on to some poor farm boy looking for a tractor like his daddy had for 5,000. I would like for it to come down so us common joe's can afford to buy them. I have found alot that I would like to buy but then the bid goes out of my range at the last minute. "
" Who cares what the values do? I'm just interested in keeping the old iron alive for the future generations to see. It's a love for the old tractors that keeps me into it, and the look on peoples faces when they see how things were once done. How hard our ancesters had to work for things that we take advantage of. These are things to be proud of and to pass on to our kids. "
" To answer your last question first: I hope so. I would love to see a buyers market for old tractors. "
" I think there will always be a market for a clean, pristine (ruuning) antique or collectable in any field. The market may change in size but should always be there. In the last 3 years a city I live near, Four Antique Malls have opened up in old grocery stores and all are successful,just as an old tractor or restored Model A, I can't buy a Model A Ford in restored condition around here for a reasonable price,even now,same goes for a nice restored tractor. My 2 cents. "
" Just a quick thought, one of the differences between cars, tractors, is that at least in my experience, Farmers were a frugal, and practical breed, who firmly believed if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and generally could care less if they were driving a brand new tractor or an old rust bucket on the back 40, cause after all, only 2 of the closest neighbours would drive down the road and see ya in the field anyhow ...

This means in my time growing up during the seventies my dad used both a early 50's 60 gas 2 cyl, and a late 40's R as secondary tractors. We didn't drive a 50's car, cause after all when you went to town, then more folks could see what yer drivin ... This would tend to mean that I may be interested in a tractor up to 20 years older, than a car if I was to collect items I was familiar with and desired at the time... That doesn't account for the grandpa factor either ...

I agree with others, that collecting may start to drop overall if more and more folks migrate to the cities, the only thing that may help is the reverse flow many cities see now to the cluster of acreages just outside of the city limits. Those acreage owners will need something to use, and they may be able to kill 2 birds with one stone if they purchase a usable antique, rather than an expensive new toy... I did, and love my 61 yr old 2N ford. "

" Forgot one more thing, We definately are losing in great numbers those who have a relationship to farming and agriculture from a family perspective. When I was a kid, my dad's family had only 1 uncle who lived in the city, My Mom's was more city centric, though a lot of her aunts, cousins still farmed.

Now, a generation later only one of my first cousins is still actively farming, the rest of the family is all urban. My kids will get exposed to the little tractor on my acreage, but for all the kids who never grow up on a farm, or regularly visit, granpa's farm, or uncle joes place, they will have no connection with tractors, and will probably be more interested in collecting antique SUV's, Mini Vans, computers and video games when they grow up.... "

" The older stuff is starting to become obsolete for use because of no 3-point, no live clutch, slow work gearing, and so on. That is the cause from tractor evolution. However, the smaller tractors of this era such as the Farmall cub and A, and the 2n and 8n fords, and Massey Harris Pony and so on seem to be real sought after right now. Probably because of suburbanites with big yard looking for a small tractor to mow yard and for snow removal. They can also be easily stored in small place and hauled on any typical car trailor which makes them a plus for tractor restorers and people that show them. Look at the value difference between, say the H and M Farmall, versus the smaller Cub, A, and B of the same era. It is evident of and a result of people wanting small tractors instead of large. I think the demand for these smaller tractors will hang right in there for awhile because the suburbanites and so on will still have a use and interests for these tractors. It is the larger tractors, that are oversized to be considered a yard tractor, that are seeing a loss in desire to have at this point. That has been evident for the past few years and I think will get worse in the future with the stepping into the next generation. Since the current market really isn't through the roof, I believe the value of these tractors are going to pretty much stay the same, but note that they are probably not going to grow in value due to inflation as they have done at times. A tractor that is worth $1000 dollars now will be worth $1000 dollars in 5 years. Factoring in the inflation is where you are going to see the market value drop. They might gain a little in value but certainly won't keep up with inflation from here on in. You can almost see the trasition of interests shifting to the next era or two right now. It is starting to get to the point where Grandpa had a John Deere 4020 instead of the G. Not to many of those Grandpa's left, that bought a new John Deere G. I believe you are right though, lack of interests is starting to show in the bigger pre-1950 models, and will eventually start to show on the smaller models. The rare units that there aren't to many of will still obtain a growing value. But I would look for the rest to somewhat remain the same value without inflation growth rather than seeing much of an actual drop in value (like going from $1000 down to $700). Just my two cents worth. "
" People tend to collect what they liked as a kid. As the ones who were kids in the '30's & '40's get older, demand for collectables from that era diminishes, not just in the antique tractor market. Guys who were kids in the 1950's are now in their late '50's & '60's. As they pass, the demand will move to the next generation. In 25 years, nobody will want an 806 Farmall or a Corvette Sting Ray. They will want a Hyundai and a Belarus. "
" I feel that the prices will get lower, especially on the wheatland, standard tractors. These are so big and bulky, hard to manuver, and as more and more collectors are moving to the city, room only allows for smaller tractors and more manuverable ones. Hauling smaller tractors is less expensive also, and these small tractors can even be used in town, or by less experienced operators. I feel that the more modern, antique tracotrs, like the 8N, Farmall M,H,A,B,C,Cub, will increase in value as demand for using tractors increases since new ones are so expensive. All we'll be left with is a love of our tractors, and being able to buy more with prices lower. I am just 21 years old, and I keep telling myself that I will never be interested in selling any of my collection, so I'm not too worried. My tractors will be used to show a future generation how my granfather did it!! "
" Automotive collectors have moved onto 60's & 70's vehicles and tractor collectors into the 10 & 20 New Generation series. The typical largest group of collectors are middle aged in their peak income years up to retirment. The primary area of interest are models that they had or wanted as young men 20 to 45 years previous. The secondary interest area is equipment that Dad or Grandad had. Sad to say the typical two cylinder Grand Dad leaves in the will to his urban/suburban,small town or rural grandson is immediately sold.Often to finance a jet ski,motorcycle,boat,auto,truck or snowmobile that the kid can relate to. Even for myself, any letter series JD or numbered series without live pto and to a degree PS,three point hitch is just "old stuff". "
" I think [the previous poster] is right on the mark. Price for 60's muscle cars is off the chart now- as those who always wanted one are getting the last kid through college and finally have some money to spend. As for whether tractor collecting will "go away", the best way to tell is to look at the ages of people participating now. Sadly, most are middle age to elderly. I think the scope of the hobby will contract, as the numbers of participants dwindle from older guys dying off and not as many younger people having connections to farming. Prices may not come down, but they probably won't escalate much. Tractors have never been a very good "investment", at least when compared to many other collectables. A good part of the reason is that farm types generally have more sense than to pay ridiculous prices for stuff! "
" Like so many things folks collect for investment purposes (art, wine, etc.), you have to do it because you love what you're collecting and not because you think it'll send your kids to Stanford. My 52 Ford 8N will never be worth more than I paid for it, maybe even less. But the fun I have working our 6 acres and the enormous grins on my kids' faces is the best return on investment I could ever hope for. "
" And as long as I'm on the ole soapbox- I heard it mentioned on "Classic Tractor Fever" on RFD-TV that some of the rare old huge early steam and gas tractors are bringing prices in the $30,000 plus range. I fear that those fellows are going to find themselves in the same boat as the guys who spent $250,000 for rare early '30's Packards in the '70's- owners of beautiful examples of truly rare machines, that no one else is particularly interested in, and won't pay big $$ for. "
" On a similar note though sad for us seniors. I was just at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan (30 miles from my house). Horse drawn farm equipment and steam engines are being moved off of the display floor for lack of interest by the public. "
" This is depressing to hear from all of you. I am 24,25 in a few months. I love the old tractors and horse drawn machinery. I have been trying to buy up any piece of horse machinery I can afford for the last 5 years. Yea, I started collecting at a young age. I was raised by my grandparents and love those old stories aobut this equipment. The sad part in my area is this old machinery is getting cut up for iron or being bought and shipped south. I own 2 IH M's,an H,F20,706 and a JD A. I am always looking for another one. I guess I just wanted you guys to know there are some young ones out there yet. And hopefully my kids and grandkids will get to see this equipment in action 30-40 years from now. People in the city need to remember what and how food got on thier family's tables. Thanks for reading. "
" I agree. With money a little tight the first thing that gets cut is a expensive hobby. But it will be kind of like the stock market. The guys that buy when everyone else is selling will come out ahead. This will also get prices more in line with reality. I am tired of seeing some old POS that needs everything from tires to overhaul going almost as high as a restored model. "
" I do hope they get cheaper, gives me an excuse to buy more 2 cly; A guy from the city told me I was nuts for buying old tractors, even called me a loser, I guess I get caught up in those old tractors, but when I buy one it feels like I am saving a little part of America. "
" I get a lot of pokes about tractor collecting from collegues at work. "Why do you need xx tractors?" My answer is uaually something like, "how many golf holes or score cards have you collected" or "Ever seen a stamp or coin collector with just one?" Then I show them the 29th annual "Farm Collector Show Directy" that I keep in my desk. Yup, there is that many nuts like me out there! They must be jealous! ;^) "

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