What makes this big-nosed blue tractor a 'holy grail' for collectors?
PUBLISHED: 16:23 01 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:23 01 October 2019
A "holy grail" for tractor collectors is expected to fetch up to £120,000 when it goes under the hammer at a major East Anglian vintage farm machinery auction.
The bidding battle for the "rare and very desirable" County 1884 model will bring crowds of avid enthusiasts to the Cheffins Vintage Sale in Sutton, near Ely, on October 19 - which auctioneers said would include the strongest line-up of tractors ever assembled at the event.
The 1884 is the last and largest of all the tractors to be introduced by the original firm of County Commercial Cars Ltd in Hampshire, and only a handful were built before the company went into receivership in 1983.
Although the model continued under the reformed County Tractors Ltd, sales were extremely limited with the last supplied in 1989-90, and estimates suggest there are now no more than 20 County 1884s in preservation.
Due to its scarcity, high specification and eye-catching appearance, the 1884 is described as the "holy grail for County collectors".
The model being auctioned, registered in 1982, is up for sale with just 3,833 hours on the clock and all its original manuals.
But it is not the only star attraction at the auction, as it will share the stage with a 1903 Ivel Agricultural Motor described as the "most important tractor ever to come to auction in the UK", which is expected to fetch up to £250,000.
Bill King, chairman of Cheffins, said: "This is almost certainly the strongest vintage sale for tractors we have ever put together at Cheffins.
"In any normal year without such an iconic tractor as the Ivel Agricultural Motor, this County 1884 would be far and away the standout lot and you could say that for many other tractors in the sale, too."
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The County machine was purchased as new from the dealership Cleales Ltd of Saffron Walden and Haverhill by Butler's Farms of Halstead, and changed hands three years later to its present owners.
The 1884 used a turbocharged and intercooled 188hp engine, and was the first of the "long nose" County tractors, with an extended bonnet housing the oil cooler and main fuel tank.