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Older machines holding or gaining value

If it's in top-notch condition, that 10- to 30-year-old tractor in your shed may be worth more than you think

“Tractors 10 to 30 years old have increased slightly (in value), if they’re in good condition,” said Greg Peterson, also known as Machinery Pete, during a presentation at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky.

Peterson, who has spent years tracking the value of used farm equipment, said he’s seen a new trend where older equipment, particularly tractors, in excellent condition is now defying the current price pressure weighing on the late-model stuff, which is piling up on dealer lots across the U.S. and Canada. While selling prices for late-model, used equipment at auctions in the U.S. have slumped as much as 25 per cent in some cases, that’s not true for many older machines.

Machinery Pete speaking at a seminar

Greg Peterson, aka Machinery Pete, has been tracking farm equipment auction sale prices in the U.S. for years and presented his observations during a seminar at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky.
photo: Scott Garvey

Flicking though images of tractors recently sold at U.S. auctions, Peterson cited numerous examples of older, 1960 through early 2000-built tractors selling for record prices, including a 5020 John Deere topping U.S. $40,000 and an IH 1256 hitting more than U.S. $44,000. And he had examples of more modern models hitting new heights as well, such as a Case IH Magnum and 7000 Series John Deere loader tractors.

There are several reasons behind that, he notes. One of which is the steadily rising cost of new equipment and the increased sophistication required to service and repair computer-controlled systems, which often require brand-specific diagnostic tools.

“I don’t have to hook up a computer to fix it (older tractors),” he explained. “That resonates very deeply (with farmers).”

But don’t expect to get top dollar for a pile of junk, just because it has a mechanical injector pump. Only well looked after machines are feeling the love from buyers. And buyers with cash to spend are falling head-over-heals for the really good ones.

“The echo on this is getting stronger,” Peterson added. “It feels like it’s going to keep creeping up. But it (the tractor) has got to be nice.” And the finest examples are fetching high prices all across the lower 48 states. “If you have something nice, geography is out the window,” he added.

Adding more fuel to the fire when it comes to demand for tractors built in the 1960s and 1970s is that they are becoming “the new collector classics”.

“Late model (JD) 4020s are hot,” he noted.

And if you’re ready to sell a used machine, regardless of its age, Peterson says you should try and “personalize it”. He cited an example of a farm retirement sale that billed an FL Series Freightliner truck as belonging to and only driven by the farm wife, who was pictured in the sale bill standing beside the cab. It sold for much more than expected.

Adding that personal attachment to a machine by showing the owner with it has shown to boost its resale value. “Our auction prices show it will go higher,” he said.

Having video showing the machine at work in pleasant surroundings sends a signal it has been cared for and appreciated. That elevates it from “a” machine to “someone’s” machine. Showing that footage to a prospective buyer can make a difference in how much he or she is willing to pay for it.

“What everyone should do (when working in the field) is have someone shoot some video,” Peterson explained. “You’re personalizing it. I’ve seen it have big results.”

About the author

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Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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