John Deere 4455: The best tractor ever made…?

Dec. 16, 2021 • Interesting Iron

john deere 4455 at an auction

“The John Deere 4455 is the best tractor they ever made!”

It seems like nearly every time I post a photo of a classic on our socials, inevitably somebody makes this comment. I’ve seen that same basic response to everything from 4020s to Ford 9000s to Boxcar Magnums. It doesn’t matter what it is, somebody will say it.

And you know what?

You’re all wrong.

Every last one of you.

(Right now, there are 4440 guys who just stopped reading and went to go sharpen their pitchforks and light their torches. Guaranteed. They’re muttering under their breath right now about that “stupid Interesting Iron guy who was never all that interesting anyway…”) ????????‍♂️

Folks, it’s all about perception. The fact is, there isn’t a “best one ever made” and deep down y’all know that. For my family, a Boxcar Magnum would be the most useless tractor ever. Why? Because you can’t grow apples with a tractor like that. Our rows of trees are only 12′ wide. Row-crop tractors literally don’t fit in our orchards! We need little skinny tractors. My buddy Brent out in California grows almonds; that 4455 in the photo up there wouldn’t be any good either. He needs low-rider tractors because branches spread wide and tend to hang low.

On the other side of that coin, our workhorses are worthless to rowcrop farmers! Heck, you could park one of our biggest tractors inside a grain cart and nothing would stick out the top!

John Deere 5093EN orchard tractor
Yep, believe it or not, this is one of our workhorses. Looks like an overgrown lawn mower, right? I’ve never been inside it; I’m literally too tall!

But, we’re not here to talk about that. Today, we’re talking about that beautiful 4455.

More details and information on that John Deere 4455:

Auction Date: 12/20/21
Location: Hamilton, IL
Bidding: Online only.
Auctioneer: Sullivan Auctioneers, LLC
Full sale bill on TZ

So now that everybody’s all good and riled up and still annoyed that I said they were wrong…let’s talk about the 4455 for a bit. Because for a lot of farmers in the 90s and maybe even still today, the 4455 actually IS the best one ever.

The 55-series

Marching through the history of the SoundGard tractors would take a bit, and while it’s important, it doesn’t really help put more eyeballs on the tractor that’s selling in a few days. So let’s just say that over time, Deere continued to refine the lineup with highly successful results. The final version of the small-frame SoundGard was the 55-series.

Of the four small-frame tractors, the 4455 was the most capable and also the most popular. For a lot of the farmers who’d survived the farm crisis of the 80s, the equipment they were using was getting a little long in the tooth. The old 4440 was still plugging away, but it was showing its age. It was underpowered (and being that it was probably 2WD, under-tractioned) for larger tillage tools and some of the larger planters on the market. It was time for something more capable. The logical choice for the die-hard Deere guys?

The 4455 MFWD.

To put it in perspective, the 4455 outsold every other 55-series tractor by a minimum of 2 to 1. Deere made well over 20,000 of ’em during the 4-year run from 1988-1992. They were great tractors, and like I said, for many farmers, they truly were the best one ever. Furthermore, they still have a place on today’s farm…most of the time.

So if that’s the case, then why is this one crossing the auction block next week?

The one you can buy next week…

John Deere 4455 parked in the shop
Lance Arnold’s John Deere 4455 sure is a beauty, isn’t it? Hit the photo to see the details and more photos in the listing on TZ!

Well, funny you should ask that. I had the same question.

So yesterday, I called Lance Arnold (the owner) to find out. We ended up being on the phone for 44 minutes and 40 seconds, which I found quite amusing. He’s a farmer in the northeast corner of Missouri in a little town called Kahoka. As is typical for most farmers in that area, he’s mainly corn and beans. When I got on the phone with him, he was running some fall tillage with a high speed disk.

Lance told me that for years, he’d wanted a 4455 MFWD – it stemmed from a time when he worked for a nearby Deere dealer in the mid-90s. He’d maintained a few, prepped others for delivery, and he’d always been impressed with those tractors. At the time, he and his dad had a 2WD 4455, but it definitely wasn’t the same.

He’d had his heart set on a 4455 MFWD Quad Range (believe it or not, Deere did make a few of ’em), but then this Powershift became available about a year ago. It’s a very original 1992 model (and I believe it may be a late one, too – the serial number is 22101). Lance’s son apparently saw it too, and I got the feeling that he put the hard sell on dad. The kid must’ve been a good salesman, too, because Lance bought it with about 3700 hours on it.

Tweaks & Changes

“It didn’t really ‘need’ anything when I got it,” he told me, “and I wanted to keep it as all-original as possible, but there were a couple of things I changed. Nothing that can’t be returned to original; and all of those original parts will go with the tractor to the new owner.” 

The original seat had a little tear in the fabric, so Lance replaced it with a new one from his local Deere dealer. The radio didn’t work when they got it, and the kids refused to drive it if it didn’t have a Bluetooth radio, so he put in an aftermarket unit. On the exterior, Lance had always hated the original 55-series fenders because they always seemed to droop. So, he swapped in a set from a later model – I believe it was a 7710 or maybe a 7810. Along the way, a new set of waffle style front wheels found its way on to the tractor, and it got new rubber, too!

4455 rubber
Lance estimates that the Firestone Deep Treads are at about 90% on the rear. The fronts are brand new.

All original paint

From a cosmetic perspective, it’s about as close to perfect as you can get without having the tractor repainted. Lance told me that there’s a small blemish on the top of the hood between the stack and the air cleaner as well as one on the top of the right fender. The photos in the auction listing don’t show it. Initially I was going to ask him to send me snapshots, but he’d already delivered the tractor to Sullivan, so that wouldn’t have been real feasible. Suffice it to say, though, that the spots are small enough that it made more sense to leave ’em there than repaint the hood and fender. He was adamant about keeping the tractor original, and that definitely included paint.

So why sell it?

At the end of the day, Lance became a victim of his own creation. He’d created something that was, for him, just too darn nice to use. “I think I was probably on the fence a little bit for a while,” he told me, “but what really sealed the deal was the day my son took it out to the field with a 20-foot stalk cutter on it. I happened to see it as he was coming back to the home farm that night, and it had stalks under it. That was when I said, ‘Nope. It’s just too nice. It’s gotta go!'”

Lance isn’t a collector. Every tractor has to earn its keep. This John Deere 4455 was, as he put it, “way too nice to put on an auger or a rotary cutter to mow the ditches.” He did manage to put about 100 hours on it in the past year or so, though. They pulled an 8-row bean planter with for a school project, side-dressed some corn, and then finally the aforementioned stalk-cutter incident.

“I’ve had it long enough to know that it’s a good, honest tractor that’ll do better on somebody else’s farm than it will on mine,” he said. Hard to argue with that!

It’s been through the local dealership (last week, just before he delivered it to Sullivan) and has all fresh fluids and filters. While it was there, Lance had them also replace the alternator since the old one was original, and a couple of other little things as well. She’s as ready to go as she’s ever gonna be!

So what’s it gonna bring?

Lance is hoping to see $80K out of it. I think he’s low, and I told him so. Granted, I have a few more data points to base that off of than he does, but in this market, I could see this getting to $85K or higher. I mean, let’s get real here. Where else are you going to find another 4455 in this condition that you can buy right now?

Nowhere.

This is the nicest John Deere 4455 you’re going to find this month – heck, maybe the nicest one this year.

Furthermore, even though it’s too nice to work on Lance’s farm, it does have some hours on it. That’s a tractor that’s going to go to a farm and work. If it only had 500 hours on it, maybe then it goes to a collection. But at 3800 hours, the engine is primed to go to work. You’d have a really hard time finding another tractor for $85-90K that’ll be as capable and comfortable…and available.

With four days left, the bidding sits at $40K, so we’re halfway to Lance’s goal. It’ll be interesting to see what this tractor does as we get closer to the end of the auction.

Thoughts on “It’s too nice to use…”

“It’s too nice for me to use.”

I totally get that. I really do.

See, my wife and I both have a thing for old pickups, and we really want one. However, I can absolutely guarantee you that we’ll see differently when it comes time to start looking for one. She’ll push for pretty paint. I won’t. There’s nothing wrong with pretty paint – I’m as big a fan of it as she is – but I also know that I want to use that truck for truck stuff once in a while. I want to take it to go shoot a tractor pull that’s three hours away – and let’s face it; pretty paint and 80 mph on the interstate doesn’t mix real well.

(Spoiler alert…we’ll probably end up compromising, and get pretty paint anyway. #happywifehappylife)

Wrapping up…

As we were winding down our call yesterday, we got to talking about auction prices and how we all like to play The Price Is Right with stuff like this.

So…we want to know what YOU think it’ll sell for! We’ll have a post pinned to the top of our Facebook page where you can chime in! Closest guess by Monday, December 20, 2021 at 238PM Central (when the auction is scheduled to end) gets bragging rights forever, and a special shoutout on TZ’s social channels as The Official Best Guesser of 4455 Prices Ever!

 

More details and information on that John Deere 4455:

Auction Date: 12/20/21
Location: Hamilton, IL
Bidding: Online only.
Auctioneer: Sullivan Auctioneers, LLC
Full sale bill on TZ

 

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