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Antique tractor sells for $1.47 million in Illinois, shattering the world record

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Provided by Aumann Auctions
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The 1913 CASE 30-60 tractor belonged to a collector in central Iowa.

The 1913 CASE 30-60 is one of just five that still exist, making the model highly sought after by antique tractor enthusiasts.

A century-year-old tractor just became the most expensive tractor ever sold.

The 1913 CASE 30-60 model tractor sold at an auction house in Illinois for a whopping $1.47 million. It’s one of only five left; the other four are either in museums or private collections.

“If a collector wanted a 30-60 CASE, this was one of very few chances they would have in their lifetime to buy one,” said Kurt Aumann, who helped auction off the tractor. “That certainly contributed to the way it sold.”

According to Aumann, the buyer is a museum in Connecticut that owned the entire line of early CASE tractors except for this one. The sale broke the world record for the most expensive tractor, which was previously set in 2019 at $535,000.

“We didn’t expect the tractor to bring that much,” he said. “But at the same time … we obviously knew that it was very rare.”

Not only is it rare, he said, it’s also a beast of a machine.

“This tractor was huge,” he said. “It’s called a prairie tractor, it was used to break virgin prairie in the farming fields and pull an eight bottom plow.”

It was the first gas-powered tractor built by the manufacturer, J. I. Case Company (now known as CASE IH). Prior to this model, their tractors mostly ran on a steam engine.

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Provided by Aumann Auctions
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The manufacturer, J. I. Case Company, is now known as CASE IH.

“This was a really significant piece of modern technology in 1913,” Aumann said.

This particular tractor belonged to a well-known collector in central Iowa, according to Aumann. When he passed away, Aumann was part of the team that went to collect the tractor and prepare it for auction. It still runs, though it hasn’t been used in earnest in decades.

“It makes your heart race when you open the shed and you see something like that,” he said.

Aumann said he thinks this sale puts antique tractors on the map. The sale has already gotten a lot of attention, he said, including from high end car collectors.

“I've never had a car collector magazine call me asking about tractors before,” he said. “It'll bring attention to antique tractors and the hobby as a whole.”

Follow Dana on Twitter @DanaHCronin

This story was produced in partnership with Harvest Public Media, a collaboration of public media newsrooms in the Midwest. It reports on food systems, agriculture and rural issues. Follow Harvest on Twitter: @HarvestPM.

Dana Cronin is a reporter for Harvest Public Media based in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.
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