In an average month, we’ll see 75-80 F-250s change hands at auctions listed on Tractor Zoom. For instance, we’ve got 20 of ’em listed as I write this (see them here). Some are pretty cherry, and some of them are absolute basketcases that are probably destined for the scrap yard.
We’ve never seen a unicorn like this, though. This one is utterly amazing.
Here’s a fact that’ll blow your mind: Ford’s been cranking out F-series pickups for 73 years. The first F-series was built in 1948, and they’re now in their 14th generation of production.
This blue one is a 1997 F-250, which puts it in the 9th generation (built from 1992-1997). 9th-gens are unique, because they were the last version of the F-series where 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1-ton models were styled the same way (Ford truck guys tend to refer to these as OBS – “Old body style”).
Furthermore, in 1994, Ford introduced a new engine option: the 7.3-liter Powerstroke diesel. The Powerstroke was the latest and greatest diesel engine from a long partnership between Ford and International Navistar. It was a brand new computer-controlled, direct-injected turbo V8 that was computer-controlled, and it was a pretty major improvement over anything else on the market. As a result, they sold very well.
I talked with Phil Wieck, the auctioneer selling the truck, for a bit this morning. He told me that it came from either Wisconsin or Minnesota (it was sold at a Wisconsin Ford dealer in the town of Ashland, about a half hour from Duluth, so it was way up there). A man bought it back in late 1997, but only put about 15,000 miles on it before he passed away. His grandson inherited it, and from what Phil told me, it sounds like he stashed it away in a storage facility for safekeeping.
(Here’s where we need to stop and recognize the grandson for his efforts to keep Grandpa’s F-250 in good condition. There are plenty of instances where this has happened where the grandson goes bonkers at the nearest diesel performance shop and inevitably ends up destroying what started life as a beautiful thing. I don’t have a problem in the world with performance – I’m a speed freak, and I like the loud pedal as much as anybody…but don’t do it to an immaculately maintained pickup! Thanks, grandson – whoever you are – for not turning Grandpa’s pickup into a brodozer!)
Grandpa’s F-250 basically remained in storage until about 7 or 8 years ago when it was sold to a gentleman in Grand Island, NE. Phil tells me that he knew that it was a really clean pickup, and it was purchased more or less as an investment. The new owner actually parked it in an old milking parlor that he’d turned into a small climate-controlled shop. The owner estimates that he’s only put about 600 miles on it since he bought it.
Compared to the way you can trick out a pickup today, this one is pretty barebones. It’s a Northland Edition, but from what I’m told, that’s not much more than a couple of decals. People like to argue on the internet about whether or not Northlands came with heavier duty batteries and denser insulation and stuff like that. I sort of wonder if some of that isn’t fluffed-up sales guy talk, though. Higher density insulation? That seems like a reach…
At any rate, special edition aside, this is a pretty spartan truck. It’s deep blue metallic over royal blue cloth interior. Seating is a 40/20/40 split bench, so nothing real special there. AM/FM/Cassette deck, cruise, electric windows and mirrors, but that’s about it. Like I said, nothing real special.
On the exterior side, other than the bedliner and the cow catcher up front, everything is factory original. The truck does ride on fresh Firestone rubber on the 16″ aluminum wheels, which is nice. With it being driven so little, I’d imagine it would’ve been impossible to keep the tires from dry-rotting. Hoses and belts would all be a little more protected, I think, but new tires were probably a necessity.
All in all, this is a nearly perfect 1997-era farm truck. I know a half-dozen guys from back home in Michigan who had trucks just like this. The combination of 4WD with a 4-speed automatic and the grunt of a 7.3 Powerstroke would’ve been one of the most popular farm trucks you could buy back then.
That’s the million dollar question in everybody’s minds. My gut feeling is that this is probably going to sell for somewhere around $40-45K.
Here’s how I got there.
Normally when I write an Interesting Iron piece, I can look at Iron Comps to value the equipment. However, in this case, there’s nothing even remotely close to base a comparison value from. We’ve got 154 OBS F-250s in the database, but like you’d expect, a lot of them had seen better days. We’ve got nearly as many F-350s from the same era, but there again, lots of worn out trucks that didn’t fit the bill.
So, I went to Bring A Trailer, an auction site that generally specializes in higher-end, rare stuff, to see if they had anything – which they did. The closest I could find to the blue one that’s selling in September sold for – get this – $54,321!
At the end of the day, though, Bring A Trailer does tend to carry a little bit of the “BaT tax” – i.e., you’re on a collector’s site, and you’re going to end up paying more. Since this one is listed on a more equipment-focused site, the prices may be a little less “collector-ish” when the auction finishes. Either way, I think it’ll be a fun one to watch!
Both Phil and I agreed that the perfect buyer for this truck is likely a farmer in their early-40s. They probably drove past their local Ford dealer’s lot every day on their way to school and saw one just like this…and every day on their way to school, they wished that Dad would stop being so practical and would just buy the darn thing!
Now that farmer’s been out of school for twenty years. He also sold last year’s corn at 7 bucks, so he’s got a little money to play with. His practical side says that he really ought to replace a hopper bottom. However, the idea of taking Dad to check pivots and look at the corn – in the pickup that they both fell in love with 25 years ago…that sounds a lot better.
(You can read that and tell me I’m off my rocker and that’s a really stupid reason to go buy a 25 year old pickup – and you might be right. But that said, I will guarantee that at least a dozen of you reading this right now are thinking, “How in the heck did Interesting Iron guy get in my head?!?!”)
Bidding opens: September 2, 2021
Bidding closes: September 8, 2021
Location: Grand Island, NE
Auctioneer: Wieck Realty & Auction
Public Service Announcement – If you’re a gearhead-y type person like me, maybe be careful about Bring A Trailer…you’ll find a LOT of eye candy, and I’m not responsible for whatever happens afterwards!