As most of you know, I'm a brand specific collector, and have been collecting garden tractors since 1989. Although I consider my collection complete, I wouldn't turn down a good deal if I came across one. However, good deals seem to be getting as rare as some of the tractors or attachments that I collected over the years.
As a collector, I try to keep a record of how much I paid for each tractor, attachment, or accessory that I bought throughout the years, just so I know how much I need out of it if there would be a time in my life that I would need to sell. Notice, I didn't say make money off of them. I don't keep a tally of money spent for individual parts, tires, or decals, as that list would be just too much to keep current, however, if I'm calculating the cost for a complete restoration, then these prices would eventually get added to the total cost.
The other night I sat down and went over this list of tractors, attachments, and accessories, and then logged onto ebay just to compare the prices of today. Wow, I was overwhelmed with the results. Not so much as to how much the collection could possibly sell for, but for what tractors, attachments, and accessories are going for right now in today's market, compared to what these same exact items were selling for 25 years ago. Unbelievable to say the least, and in a way, rather disappointing.
What I don't understand, or should I say, what I can't seem to grasp, is why are these items bringing so much money? Do we really need to charge or buy these items for these outrageous prices, just because the demand might be high right now? I remember buying my first tractor, a 1966 John Deere 110 that came with a mower deck, a snowthrower, and a front blade, all for $150.00. I bought this package from one of our local John Deere dealers, and I can remember them telling me they didn't want it sitting around. A few weeks later, I bought another 110 from another local dealer, this time it was a 1967 110 with hydraulic lift, a mower deck, and a rototiller for $125.00. Again, the dealer didn't want it sitting on the lot, as most people didn't want to buy something that old. Now days, you can't even find a rototiller for less than $200.00 let alone a running round fender for that price. I remember buying a new set of American made 6-12 Goodyear bar tires from the local dealer for $65.00. Try finding one tire like that for less than that price. In fact, other than Carlisle, try finding a tire made in America. We are now paying extremely high pricing for tires that aren't even made in the United States. WHY??? Why are the tire prices so high? Just because garden tractor collecting has become so popular? I know it's not because of overseas shipping, that's for sure.
So what makes collecting these tractors so expensive? Why has the value of these old machines gone through the roof? Just because John and Dick both want the same tractor? What once was cheap and enjoyable to collect, has now become expensive and really not enjoyable anymore. For someone just getting into the hobby of collecting these tractors, they have a tough road ahead of them. For the amount of money that I spent for four tractors and attachments, a newbie will have to spend for just the tractor alone. I guess in a way I should be doing cartwheels in the backyard and getting all excited about the value of my machines, but for some reason, I just can't bring myself to do it. It just doesn't seem right seeing these old machines selling for almost triple the amount that I paid for them back then.
Have we become that greedy that we will mark up everything to the highest amount possible, just so we can take advantage of the demand, and make money? To me, the value of the machine is in the years that the old girl worked and performed. The many scratches showing on the paint and finish, the dent in the fender, the dry rotted tires, the torn seat, and the half rusted out muffler. That is the true value of these old machines. There is no amount of money that can be placed high enough to equal that value. Just because the interest in collecting garden or lawn tractors has become popular recently, doesn't mean we have to jack up our pricing and charge outrageous amounts of money in order to meet a demand. As a seller, I would want my pricing low and reasonable as a way of selling two, three, or four items, instead of jacking my pricing higher and only selling one. I would want to be known as a very fair and reasonable seller, rather than being known as outrageous or a crook.
We should be in this hobby to collect the things that we want, but also in it to help others. Making my collection grow over the years was important, but making friends along the way was just as important too. Collectors helping collectors. Most times, money wasn't even exchanged. I would trade you for something I wanted, for something you wanted. How much does that happen anymore? If a trade is even mentioned anymore, the first thing guys want to do is make sure each part is valued the same, and if not, what will be the cash pay out. Just wrong in my opinion. If you need something I have, and I want something you have, then let's do the swap no matter what each piece is valued at. The part is just another part, and isn't going to do me any good sitting on the shelf, however your firm handshake sealing the deal will last with me forever!
We are all in this together, so helping out a fellow collector in need should be top priority. The almighty dollar won't last forever, but I bet the friendship will. Somehow, someway, we need to get the pricing of our hobby back down to where it used to be, enjoyable, or at least within more reasonable prices. Even dealerships are starting to raise their pricing on these older parts, just to make more money on meeting the demand. People just can't afford to keep collecting like this, and in a way, we are chasing newbie's away from wanting to start a collection of their own.