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Is this perhaps a case of survivorship bias? Surely there are plenty of brands/models of the tractor and implements which have critical flaws exposed only over time.

Yes, but not as much as you'd think. Tractors are very simple, very rugged devices built to be run all day in a punishing environment. It's not surprising that many 50+ year-old ones are still running.

Old ones are little more than engine, transmission and maybe hydraulics.

Does it matter at this point? If you are shopping for used equipment and all the early fails have been filtered out already then that's a good thing.

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