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).
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.