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

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

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.

 The manufacturer, J. I. Case Company, is now known as CASE IH.
Provided by Aumann Auctions
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
Dana Cronin is a reporter based in Urbana, Illinois. She covers food and agriculture issues in Illinois for Harvest. Dana started reporting in southern Colorado at member station 91.5 KRCC, where she spent three years writing about everything from agriculture to Colorado’s highest mountain peaks. From there she went to work at her hometown station, KQED, in San Francisco. While there she covered the 2017 North Bay Fires. She spent the last two years at NPR’s headquarters in Washington D.C., producing for shows including Weekend Edition and All Things Considered.