Nope. That headline wasn’t meant to
refer to the weather. Something I saw this week made me wonder if we
farm machinery enthusiasts might be on the verge of being considered
As I staked my claim to the sofa and
the TV remote control in order to watch all twenty-odd hours of this
fall’s Barrett-Jackson auto auction, the announcer, Bob Varsha,
mentioned a collection of restored John Deere tractors would roll
across the auction block this year, a first for this automotive
industry event. Was it possible that farm tractors—and the people
who appreciate them—could now be, well, cool?
This auction is, after all, the
hard-core car guys’ inner sanctum, and it’s broadcast on the Speed TV
Channel. To bring tractors into this venue is quite a change from
past events. Up until now, farm machinery certainly hasn’t been
considered cool—at least by most of the car guys. But some tractors
have become very collectable, garnering record prices at auctions
that surpass most of the 70s muscle car values.
As an example of what I mean by farm
tractors not being considered cool, you’ve probably heard this
phrase: “It runs like an old tractor”. Which is what people say
about their car when it doesn’t perform well. Granted, that
unflattering reputation may have once been deserved, especially when
you look at some of the engineering included on tractors in the
middle of the last century. Take the steel seat for example. Even
drivers of the earliest Model Ts were never subjected to that
indignity. But 20 years after the first Ford was built it was still a
standard feature on some tractors.
Today, however, things are much
different. Modern farm tractors have standard technology that puts a
lot of cars to shame. As we sit in quiet cabs letting GPS do the
steering for us, maybe we machinery enthusiasts ought to use that
time to think about how we might reword that old phrase. Maybe we
could say “It runs like an old car,” when our modern tractors
aren’t performing properly.
But back to the auction. When I heard
about the tractors, I grabbed my computer, put it on my lap and
scanned the online auction list to see when they would sell. As I
watched and waited, every time a tractor was next, the channel would
break for a commercial. By the time coverage resumed, some Camero or
Trans Am was being sold. I guess you can forgive the Speed Channel
for that. Tractors may be sophisticated now, but they still have
pretty slow quarter-mile times.
The John Deeres and an 8N Ford did
sell, but the producers apparently didn’t think there was enough
viewer interest in seeing them go across the block, so they weren’t
shown on television.
Oh well, our brush with coolness was a
close one; just how close did we come? We were a two minute
commercial break away! Maybe next year.
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