Blog Series Icon


Repowered Tractors: JD Model A with an IH V8!


Ryan Roossinck

May 08, 2024

Hero 050824

Aumann JD A 345V8 4

Repowered tractors are neat pieces of history in my book. They represent a very different time in America, when mechanical ingenuity counted for something. Farmers could – and did – innovate stuff on their own because they needed a piece of equipment to meet their challenges. Sadly, that really doesn’t happen much anymore. So much of what we use on the farm runs on computers that it’s awfully tough to innovate that kind of thing.

So, when this little John Deere A showed up on an Aumann Vintage Power listing with stacks and bright red valve covers, I knew something was up. However, it wasn’t until I gave the listing a little closer look that I realized how interesting this tractor actually is.

Auctioneer: Aumann Vintage Power
Auction End Date: May 15, 2024 – Soft close begins at 6PM Central
Tractor Location: Franklin, WI
TZ Auction Listing


So what makes this one so interesting?

Well, it’s a John Deere with an International V8 in it for starters…

Yeah. Let that marinate for a minute.

You’ve got questions? I did too. So I talked to a few people at Aumann Vintage Power, and eventually ended up with the name and number of the gentleman who built this little monster.

So this afternoon, I called him.

Mike’s Little Monster

Repowered John Deere Model A
Mike Mudek didn’t get into repowered tractors for any reason other than the fact that he had a spare IH 345 in his shop that needed a home. (Photo: Aumann Vintage Power)

Mike Mudek is a construction worker who lives just south of Milwaukee, and he’s a pretty die-hard IH Scout guy. About ten years ago, he was having beers in the shop one night with a few buddies, and at some point, the discussion turned towards an IH 345 sitting in the corner. I believe Mike bought the motor (which was out of a school bus) with the intention of putting it into a project Scout, but ended up going in a different direction.

One of his buddies made the comment, “Y’know how two-cylinder Deeres always sound like they’ve got a miss when they’re running? That 345 would certainly fix that.” Everybody had a chuckle about that and I’m sure the conversation moved on as it usually does. However, the more Mike thought about it, the more it sounded like a good idea.

As it turned out, not long after, a John Deere Model A project ended up on Mike’s radar. So, he took some measurements of the motor and the tractor, and decided that he was going to give it a shot!

It took a couple of years to get it all buttoned up the way he wanted it, but Mike ended up with a neat little tractor! He finished it just in time for the 2016 Red Power Roundup, which was being held in Union Grove, WI. So he loaded it up in a trailer and headed south.

And that’s when the trouble started…

Red Power Roundup

Repowered Tractors: John Deere Model A with an IH 345 V8
When Mike started unloading his repowered John Deere, it didn’t take but five minutes for a crowd to gather. (Photo: Aumann Vintage Power)

As it turns out, repowered tractors – especially green ones – tend to cause a bit of a ruckus!

He’d barely dropped the trailer’s ramp when a passerby saw the green paint, and that guy really didn’t like that. “What do you think you’re doing? You can’t unload that here! This is a RED tractor show!”

Mike answered, “I know, but this one’s got a red heartbeat!”

The guy wasn’t having it. In his mind, that tractor had no business at the Red Power Roundup.

It didn’t take long before a crowd gathered. I don’t think it was a torches and pitchforks kind of thing, but the natives were still a little restless. Arguments ensued in the crowd. Fortunately, Mike had some fairly powerful friends in the IH world who stuck up for him. However, before it was all said and done, somebody called one of the Red Power Roundup event co-chairs, Randy Graf, to make the final call.

When Randy arrived, the crowd went pretty quiet. They all wanted to hear the official ruling. Randy said, “Hey Mike, fire it up and pull it out.” And as he proceeded to unload it, he told me that Randy leaned over to Mike’s son and said, “He’s fine…I just wanted to hear it run!”

I think the crowd really wanted Randy to throw him out, but he and Mike were old friends. Furthermore, Randy got it. He understood that Mike was just trying to do something really unique!

Since then…

Repowered tractors: John Deere Model A with an IH 345 V8
Like most repowered tractors these days, once they’re done, they tend to hit the tractor show circuit more than the field. Such was the case with Mike Mudek’s Model A – though he tells me that it’ll pull a potato digger through his wife’s garden like nobody’s business… (Photo: Aumann Vintage Power)

Since finishing the Model A with a red heartbeat, Mike tells me it’s done nearly every tractor show in the state of Wisconsin as well as a few in northern Illinois. He tried the car show thing, but in his words, “…car show people don’t really get what this machine is all about, so I kinda quit doing them.” I get that.

At the end of the day, a lot of time and effort and brain power went into building this machine. It’s not like other repowered tractors. Farmall Ms with all manner of GM- and Ford-derived small blocks are pretty common. I’m fairly sure that adapters and kits are readily available for motors like those. International V8s that came out of school buses? That’s a different story. I wouldn’t swear that it’s the only one of its kind, but I’ve seen quite a few repowered tractors over the past few decades and I don’t think I’ve ever seen another one like Mike’s. So when he says that people don’t understand what went into making this whole thing work, I totally understand that.

He did it right, too. On the whole, this looks like it could’ve been a factory-backed retrofit kit similar to the one that Sheppard Diesel made for the Farmall M back in the fifties. To Mike, the details matter, and furthermore, he wasn’t willing to give all the secrets away. It would take some effort to disassemble this tractor to reverse-engineer the process.

Why let it go?

Good question – and one that I asked specifically asked him.

He told me, “Honestly, I’ve had my fun with it. It was a challenge to build and make it work, but after six or eight years taking it to shows and parades, I’m ready to move on. At the end of the day, I’ve got some projects that have been sitting for too long, and I’d like to make progress on them.”

I get that part, too. When it’s all said and done, there’s a cost to carrying a backlog of projects, whether it’s tractors, IH Scouts, trailers, or something entirely non-ag/gearhead-related. It all takes up space and resources, y’know?

As far as a buyer is concerned, Mike’s hopeful that it goes to someone who’ll enjoy the tractor and continue to put it out there at shows and parades. “The last thing that tractor needs is to sit in a shed where nobody ever sees it and it only gets driven once or twice a year,” he told me.

He also mentioned that he’s hopeful that whoever ends up with it doesn’t buy it just to make one color or another mad. He told me, “I built that tractor more or less to see if I could do it. It was a personal challenge to make it all come together. I didn’t build it to pick on anybody, y’know?”

(I will say this, though. If the buyer does buy it just to annoy John Deere purists – or IH purists, for that matter…it’d be a pretty darn good way to do it! I’m sure that if you rolled it out at the Red Power Roundup in Spencer, IA this year, there’d be plenty of red guys who’d throw plenty of shade at you for doing it! The same would go for the next all-John Deere show!)

Wrapping up…

Theoretically, we’re all attracted to the collector hobby for the memories and friendships we make along the way. Unique machines like this one will always get quite a bit of attention wherever they go, and I’m with Mike when I say that I hope that whoever ends up with this one will put it out there in the public eye. It’s too unique to squirrel away in a shed and never have any fun with it, y’know?

The nice part about this tractor is that it’s a pretty bulletproof combination. The 345 V8 is a really solid old industrial-designed motor. They’re not super-finicky as far as maintenance goes, parts are still available for them, and they’ll run forever. The truck/schoolbus/RV/party bus crowd loves ’em because they’re pretty durable and don’t make enough power to get anybody into trouble. However, when you drop one into a fairly lightweight tractor like a Model A, I’d imagine that they could be pretty entertaining – if for no other reason than the noise alone!

Mike’s son David sent me a quick cold start video, and I’ve got to admit…this one sounds pretty good! Check it out!

Here’s the auction information one more time. If you’re reading this and end up being the high bidder, shoot me a note – I’m certain that you’ll have some fun with it!

Auctioneer: Aumann Vintage Power
Auction End Date: May 15, 2024 – Soft close begins at 6PM Central
Tractor Location: Franklin, WI
TZ Auction Listing


Until next time, make it a great week!




Email Address

Find an auctioneer and dealer near you

Farm Equipment Financing & Loans
Discover why ag equipment buyers are choosing Tractor Zoom as the go-to-platform for securing their next equipment loan.

Tractor Zoom is connecting farm equipment sellers and buyers faster than ever before. Finding farm equipment at auction or at a dealership has never been so easy.

Copyright © 2024 Tractor Zoom Inc. All Rights Reserved