International Harvester s M18-35 Titan tractor was a dud when it first hit the market in the early 1900s. But now it s worth as much as a brand new one.
The rare vintage tractor restored by a MacGregor, Man. farmer has fetched what s believed to be the highest price ever paid for a collector tractor in Canada a cool $375,000.
You could have heard a pin drop before they said sold, said Bob Anderson, who rebuilt the 1913 Model 18-35 Titan in the late 1970s from a pile of parts and skeleton frame passed to him by a neighbour.
The Aug. 1 sale of Anderson s collection of IH-McCormick vintage farm equipment dating back to the early 1900s drew 800 bidders from across the Prairies and Ontario, as well as several U.S. states including South Carolina, and New York State.
With the elderly farmer and his family looking on, a hush descended on the crowd as the Titan came on the block. The opening bid was $50,000, and five or six bidders kept at it until the price reached $300,000. After that there were only two left to duke it out.
The whole thing lasted about two minutes, said auctioneer Murray Rankin.
It was one of the highlights of my career and I ve been selling for 45 years, he said. And it wasn t just the total amount of money, although that is the highest price for a single item that I ve ever sold.
Pre-sale preparations had them talking to people literally around the world, Rankin said, adding his and Ross Taylor Auction Service at Reston did months of advertising and promotion. During that time they were frequently on the phone all over Canada, the U.S. and as far away as Belgium and New Zealand.
It was pretty unusual to speak to people so far away, said Rankin.
The successful bidder for the rare Model 18-35 Titan, entirely restored and in running order, was American businessman and farm equipment collector Dudley Diebold of Roxbury, Connecticut, represented by an agent.
Anderson has spoken to its new owner and said he is glad to know the Titan has gone to a good home.
Mr. Diebold will restore it to what it was originally, he said. He ll have it in a climate-controlled building. I m very glad it went where it did.
Of course, he adds, he s pleased with the price paid and with the sale in its entirety. I had the best help, he said.
And while he did quietly anticipate the bidding would go high, he never dreamed there d be such a big crowd.
If some had asked me how many I did expect would come, I might have said maybe 400 or something like that.
The rare 18-35 Titan tractor is believed to be one of two of that model known to be running in North America.
As the story goes, this particular IHC model was cancelled shortly after production began, due to mounting complaints from early-century farmers about the model s malfunctions. Records vary as to how many were actually made, with some indicating just 119 of the planned 259 tractors were produced.
A lifetime collector of vintage IHC equipment, Anderson acquired the stripped-down 18-35 Titan from the Bowes farm family at High Bluff in 1979 and spent that winter rebuilding it.
A gem of his collection and a fixture in the family, Anderson predicted earlier this summer that it would be hard to part with it. And it was.
We loaded it here in the yard and afterward, I d go day by day and look at the tracks. They just got less and less. Finally they vanished.
He and his wife Arlene plan to continue living on their farm. I m here for the duration, he said. Arle and I are happy here.