FRANKFORT, Ill. - George Schaaf is in one hall of fame, and he created something of another one.
The Chicagoland native has run the George and June Schaaf Tractor and Truck Museum in Frankfort, Illinois, since the 1990s, but at 89 years old, and his wife June passing away several years ago, he has made the tough decision to close its doors and sell the amazing collection.
Schaaf grew up in a family that ran a window business in Chicago, but spent a lot of time on a farm as a youth.
"When I was a kid, I stayed on a farm from when I was 10 to 18, so I got an attachment to the tractors," Schaaf told Fox News Digital.
George Schaaf has been collecting tractors for four decades. (Mecum Auctions)
While in the city, he played the locally popular game of 16-inch softball, which features a larger, softer ball than regular version.
The players do not wear gloves and often get their fingers jammed and broken, which is considered a badge of honor.
Schaaf is a member of the 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame. The game is popular in the Chicago area where he grew up. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images / Getty Images)
"I had A few bent ones, Schaaf said. "Anybody who plays is going to get a couple."
Schaaf retired from playing in the 1980s and was later inducted into the 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame in Forest Park for both his performance on the field and charitable work supporting youth sports.
He then started focusing on his hobby of collecting classic tractors and trucks, which led to the establishment of the museum, which has dozens of them, some dating back more than a century.
The George and June Schaaf Truck and Tractor Musuem has been opened for the past three decades. (Mecum Auctions)
Schaaf said he bought whatever caught his eye regardless of the condition and gave the roughest ones full restorations that involved totally disassembling them to fix and finish each and every part with the same care shown to multi-million classic cars, and with good reason.
Prices for some rare tractors can run well into the hundreds of thousands, and a 1913 Case 30-60 was auctioned this May for $1.47 million.
Schaaf does not have one of them, but there are a few very rare vehicles in his collection that will be auctioned by Mecum Auctions on October 1 at the museum.
This 1917 Little Oak is the last-known surviving example. (Mecum Auctions)
Among them is a 1917 Little Oak that is the only one of its kind known to still exist. It was one of the first "one man tractors" that had a plow powered by the engine, which could be raised and lowered from the driver’s seat.
Schaaf's Cockshutt Hart-Parr 70 Orchard was originally built for the Canadian market. (Mecum Auctions)
His 1937 Cockshutt Hart-Parr 70 Orchard is another sole survivor and was originally built for Canada by the Oliver Farm Equipment Company.
Schaaf put this 1938 Monarch Sno-Motor through a "monumental" restoration project. (Mecum Auctions)
One more unique vehicle is a 1938 Monarch Sno-Motor that had many lives. It was designed by the U.S. Forest Service of Portland, Oregon, and first used to haul wood before being put into service for the construction of the famous Mt. Hood Timberline Lodge, where it later spent several years pulling skiers up the slopes. Schaaf said it took a "monumental" restoration effort to get it into the pristine condition it is today.
However, that sort of thing did not stop him from putting his equipment to work at tractor shows every couple of weeks.
"When I restore them, I would take them out and use them right away. A lot of people restore them, and they don’t show them at all, they just leave them in a barn," he said.
This 1961 Lamborghini 1R is a rare find. (Mecum Auctions)
For those with exotic tastes, there are two Lamborghini tractors on the docket. The sports car company having been founded by owner Ferruccio Lamborghini after becoming frustrated with the service he was getting for the Ferraris that he owned.
Schaaf's 1950 Ford "Shoebox" Buisness Coupe is like one he had when he was young. (Mecum Auctions)
Schaaf only has nine antique cars and trucks up for sale, but they are no less impressive. The lot includes a 1913 International Autowagon MW, a 1937 Ford Pickup and a stunning rare 1950 Ford "Shoebox" Business coupe that is like one he had when he was young.
This 1932 Case CC is the first tractor Schaaf purchased. (Mecum Auctions)
He is also selling a 1932 Case CC, which was the first tractor in his collection, but is keeping another of the brand’s models.
The 1923 Case 40/72 is one of five left and a favorite of his.
"That way, if I go to a tractor show, I’ve got something to bring," Schaaf said.
"It’s powerful. When I enter it in pulling contests it usually wins."
As for what it is all worth, neither he nor Mecum have offered any pre-sale estimates, but he is optimistic the hard work he has put into them will be appreciated by the bidders.
"I hope they get carried away," he said.
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