Classic Cars

This 1958 Porsche-Diesel Tractor Is a Bargain Rennsport Entry

A vintage Porsche that costs less than a new Honda Civic!

Someone just bought an air-cooled 1958 Porsche that’s eligible to race at the brand’s Rennsport Reunion event for $18,700 at Barrett-Jackson’s 2019 Northeast auction. Let that sink in for a moment as you imagine your helmeted, Nomex-enveloped self running to this trusty steed—in racy red paint, no less—during a Le Mans-style start at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Sure, with 14 horsepower from a single-cylinder, 822-cc, air-cooled diesel tractor engine you’re probably going to lose to Porsche’s larger “Master” tractor (with a rip-roaring 50 horses from four cylinders), but at least you’ll be in the race. And this Porsche 108L Junior tractor, being the smallest that Porsche-Diesel Motorenbau GmbH produced, is likely a bit nimbler than its larger, heavier counterparts. This particular example has been treated to a “professional ground-up restoration,” claims the auction catalog. According to Barrett-Jackson, this tractor has had all of its mechanical components “tested and overhauled,” along with all new gaskets and seals being fitted. The transmission is a three-speed manual.

Designed by Dr. Porsche himself in the 1930s, Porsche-Diesel tractors didn’t actually begin production until 1956. In the U.S., the entry-level Junior model would have cost some $1,750—no small amount of money in the day—and by the time production was phased out in 1963, more than 125,000 Porsche-Diesel tractors were sold worldwide. Perhaps as few as 1,000 were sold in the U.S. with fierce competition from American brands like John Deere (which incidentally bought a rival German tractor maker in 1956 and began building many tractors in Argentina by 1958).

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Once merely considered oddball relics, Porsche tractors have become highly collectible in recent years with the boom of the vintage Porsche market and many well-known collectors are proud to keep at least one tractor in the warehouse with all their sports cars. A similar 1960 Porsche-Diesel Junior 108L sold in 2018 at RM Sotheby’s Scottsdale auction for nearly $45,000, admittedly a strong price for the model. Nevertheless, the $18,700 paid here is still possibly a minor bargain with similar examples often selling in the low-$20,000 range. Simply put, if you want more fun than this on a piece of agricultural equipment, you’ll have to convince Honda to build you a 150-mph Mean Mower.

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