Cliff recently read an article in one of his tractor collector magazine that explained how tractor collectors are fewer than they once were; evidently the height of the antique tractor craze is over. I suppose this is good news for anybody wanting to buy an old, collectible tractor, because the prices are dropping.
The reason the craze is dying out is that the collectors are dying. If you go to a meeting of our tractor club, you need only take a look around at the group to realize it's an old man's hobby; they are connecting to their youth. Most of them have restored a tractor like the one Dad or Grandpa had when they were kids. Cliff's current favorite restoration is the Oliver like the one my cousin had when we were in our twenties: A few times Cliff helped him work the ground in preparation for planting. The first time, Gerald put him on a D-19 Allis Chalmers. It was one of the high points in Cliff's life, and in the 80's, when Cliff could afford it, he bought a worn-out D-17 Allis and fixed the flaws a little at a time. When her paint became dull, he'd repaint her and put on new decals. That was one of his dream tractors.
Later on, Gerald moved up to bigger tractors. So when Cliff helped him then, he got to plow with a 2255 Oliver, a behemoth similar to the 1855 sitting in our shop. At that point, Cliff had a new dream tractor, and that's the reason he owns a big green tractor for which we have absolutely no use.
He's connecting to his younger days.
I suppose that's what most antique collectors are doing, whether it's cars, dolls, handkerchiefs, or old gas pumps: People tend to look for things that remind them of the happy times of childhood and youth. The good old days.
Today's tractors are computer driven and mostly plastic, and it's the same with cars. I see no way they could possibly be restored. But I'm sure today's generation will find something to collect when they reach retirement age, that makes them hark back to simpler times. Their first computer maybe? The first Iphone they owned?
OK, maybe not. Perhaps the pictures on their computers will be all they need to remind them of the good old days.