At some point, every machinery enthusiast comes across a particular machine that they would one day love to own or replicate in terms of restoration.
For Cavan man Shane Magee, this was an International 1455XL. A number of years ago, Shane laid eyes on a photo of an International 1455XL working in the Netherlands.
These photos sowed a seed in his head and started him on a search for his very own 1455XL in 2019.
Situated near Bailieborough, Co Cavan, Shane runs his own electrical business, outside of which he has always had a keen interest in all things with an engine – tractors and machinery especially, not just modern machinery but classics too.
Finding a 1455XL
After seeing that particular 1455XL online, he knew right away that the chance of finding an example here in Ireland was unlikely. So, he searched the European classified sites.
“There weren’t very many for sale, even abroad, three I think it was in total. One dealer in Düsseldorf (Germany) happened to have two out of the three I saw advertised,” said Shane.
“I booked a flight and flew to Düsseldorf one Saturday morning, hired a car and drove to the dealer and then back to the airport for a flight home that night. I bought what I thought was the better of the two.
“Neither was a pretty sight at the time, but I felt mine had straighter body work with little rust. It didn’t even have a seat in the cab – a five-gallon drum was the makeshift seat!”
Shane wanted a set of genuine staggered front weights and so did a deal to have them taken off another tractor.
Just over a week later, the 1455XL arrived home where it didn’t sit still for too long before the strip-down began.
Shane and his father Gerry, who is a plant fitter by trade, addressed any mechanical issues and then began dismantling.
Shane noted that the tractor was quite smokey, which Gerry soon found out, to his surprise, to be the injectors which had been fitted the wrong way round – a quick fix.
Although in good mechanical order for a tractor with 9,000 hours, they removed the half axles and did the brakes, to find the slave cylinders had seized.
The tractor was stripped – the doors, bonnet and the cab removed and then its interior.
“Dad welded coaster wheels on to the cab so that it would be mobile. After some minor repairs, it and the rest of the body panels were sent to a local man to be painted.”
Shane then prepped and painted the tractor’s chassis himself.
Shane wanted to fit his 1455XL with front linkage. After taking measurements, he found the front linkage of a New Holland TS 115 to be a close enough match.
Local firm Carroll Engineering fabricated a set of brackets so that the front links could be married with the tractor. Carroll also manufactured the A-frame for the front weight carrier.
The father and son duo cleverly plumbed the front linkage directly into the tractor’s back end on a solenoid block, so that at the flick of a switch from the cab, one of the rear spools can be diverted to control it.
Being a European import, the 1455 was not fitted with a pickup hitch. Shane sourced a Hand Engineering hitch from John Conaty, a local tractor breaker, and fitted it himself.
Once back from the painters, Shane re-upholstered the complete cab with a kit he bought from the UK, which worked well after some slight modifications.
From here, the men built the cab back up from scratch on the ground, which they noted was much easier to do at ground level.
With the wiring in a bad state, Shane put his electrician’s skills to use and rewired the cab.
Wanting to keep the original equipment manufacturer look, he fitted the cab with new halogen work lamps and taillights. A new radio and speakers were also installed.
Originally, the series came with the wing mirrors mounted on the doors. Shane modified the brackets so that larger mirrors and arms could be fitted to the cab’s corner posts, which worked a treat.
All decals, interior and exterior, were sourced from Germany. A stainless steel exhaust was also fabricated to replace the standard exhaust pipe, just like the tractor from the photograph.
The original rims were sold and replaced with a wider set built by Agrigear to suit the 710/70 R38 rears and 600/65 R28 Trelleborg tyres he sourced – these helping give the tractor its beefy look.
Completion and costs
By April 2020, the tractor was pretty much back together and almost identical to the tractor in Shane’s photograph.
The cost of the project, including the purchase and delivery of the tractor, stands somewhere in the region of €26,000, not putting a price on the man hours himself and his father put into it.
Shane noted how at times progress was slow, but it was an enjoyable experience to be able to do the majority of work with his father and see it all come together.
“It’s going to be well minded and enjoyed more than worked. I’ll take it out to one or two tractor runs each year. I don’t think there are many 1455 XLs in similar condition in the country, especially in the earlier cream and red International colours.”
Shane said that a future aspiration would be to have a John Deere 7810 sitting beside it in the shed.
If you are in the process of completing or have recently completed a restoration project, feel free to get in touch with us at email@example.com.
The International Harvester Corporation (IHC) in Europe introduced the 1455 in 1979 along with the 1255 as part of the firm’s D-family, replacing the C-family 1246 tractor.
The 125hp 1255 and the 145hp 1455 were exclusively built at Neuss, Germany. However, previous models had been also built in St Dizier, France.
The 1455 was fitted with IHC’s own DT-402 6.6l engine and only offered as 4wd featuring a ZF T-3450 (20f/9R) manual transmission. With a rear lift capacity of 5,600kg, the 1455 model was designed for heavy draught applications. It was the largest, most powerful tractor produced at the German factory at the time.
In 1982, the Field Force range was launched, introducing the XL Control Centre cab following a collaboration with Porsche, offering refinement that could only be matched by the John Deere SoundGard cab at the time.
Interestingly, neither the 1255 or 1455 models adopted the number six as the last digit of their identity unlike their C-family counterparts (956XL and 1056XL).
In 1985, IHC merged with Case-Tenneco to form Case-IH, incorporating both International Harvester and David Brown/Case tractors into the same portfolio.
In 1988, the David Brown factory in Yorkshire ceased production. Case-IH followed with an extensive product rationalisation programme, which simultaneously introduced restyled versions of its models until the launch of the all-new 5100 Maxxum range in 1992.
Production of the Case IH 1455XL ceased in 1996, years after the range’s smaller models, as Case IH needed a model to plug a gap between the Maxxum and larger US-built Magnum ranges.
Today, 1455XL models remain highly sought after, with a 1996 model selling at Cheffin’s Auctions in 2019 for €78,657.