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The tractor isn’t a uniquely American invention as versions of mobile farm power plants were appearing in England as early as the 1850s. And one of the oldest existing tractors in the world, the Mechwart’sche Pertroleumpflug, was built in Hungry in 1896. Indeed, some of the most significant advances in tractor design came from England as can be found in the Ivel or Ferguson Type A.
Manufactured between 1946 and 1949, the single-cylinder, 18-hp. Allgaier, a tool company, offered German farmers affordable horsepower to replace their horses. Best described as a stationary engine on wheels, these tractors employed an 18-hp. single-cylinder power plant with hopper-styled cooling and a two-speed transmission.
CAST tractors, like the Model 435L, proved to be years ahead of their time, offering such then unheard of designs like four-wheel steering, braking, and suspension. Plus the 435L was designed to operate low to the ground to accommodate orchard and vineyard work. Its low center of gravity and four-wheel-drive operation also made it ideal for running over the steep hills of northern Italy.
Australian tractors are not as renowned as their counterparts in America. But for years an Australian machine held the record as the world’s fastest tractor! The first prototype Chamberlain tractor, the Model 40K, came out in 1945. But it would be another four years before financing became available to build the 30 drawbar horsepower tractor.
Deutz F1L 514
Deutz’s founder, Nicolaus Otto, was one of the leading pioneers of internal combustion engines. Otto was experimenting with four-stroke engines in the 1860s and his company produced its first diesel in 1898. In 1926 Deutz was equipping his tractors with his diesel engines marking it as one of the first diesel tractors in the world! Today Deutz is noted for its air-cooled diesels.
The Deutz FL was part of a range of tractors that were offered in one-, two- and three-cylinder diesel models. This particular tractor employed a 45 cubic-inch single-cylinder air-cooled diesel. A unique feature of this tractor was that the drive could turned around and sit in front of the steering wheels to operate the tractor in the opposite direction.
The first Fendt tractors were little more than a single-cylinder stationary engine mounted on a simple frame. After World War II, however, Fendt introduced a refined machine that employed a multi-speed transmission, a machine like the Dieselross Model F15 G (shown here). Rated at 15 hp. (at 1,600 rpm), the F15 G employed a single-cylinder engine.
Ferguson Type A
Rarely does engineering advancement come along that has such an impact that it changes agriculture. Such was the case with Harry Ferguson’s Type A tractor. Ferguson didn’t create the hitch system, but he perfected it to the point of all three-point hitch systems in use today reflect his basic design.
Massey- Ferguson 25
The 25 was one of at least six models Massey built in France starting in the 1950s. “Built” is a subjective term since these tractors were often fabricated in Coventry, England, before being shipped to France as “knock-down” kits for assembly. The tractors would then be fitted with a French-built Simca or Peugeot engine and dressed out with French styling and components.
Holder’s lithe but powerful four-wheel-drive tractors were ideally suited to operate on the hilly fields or confining vineyards of the German countryside. The 2,569-pound Model A-20 (pictured) put the power from its four-cylinder engine to work through an eight-speed transmission.
Ivel can be considered the pioneer of the all-purpose tractor for the common farmer capable of plowing, cultivating row crops, and powering stationary equipment. Ivel was highly affordable at a price of $560 with the ability of pulling a two- to three-bottom plow thanks to a British-built engine with two horizontally opposed cylinders (rated at 850 rpm).
Simple, rugged, dependable, and economical. Built by those attributes, Heinrich Lanz’s tractors became a favorite of fellow Germans, and farmers across Europe all the way to Australia. Lanz started manufacturing tractors in 1911 building its first semi-diesel machine in 1921.
Lanz Bulldog Model S
This 1953 model of the Lanz Bulldog PS was powered by a two-cycle diesel which had the ability to burn different types of low-grade fuel. The PS utilized a hot bulb ignition system to start its single cylinder engine which turned out a rated 55 horsepower.
Certainly one of the most successful, if not also unique, multipurpose tractors was the Alldog Implement Carrier. When it came time to haul produce to town and even the family to church, the Alldog could be fitted with a wagon with fairly impressive capacity. The Alldog fitted the machine with a 13-hp., single-cylinder, two-cycle air-cooled diesel. The Alldog first appeared on the market in 1951.
Lanz Bulldog 1616
This Model 1616 Bulldog, built in 1960, operates in just two cycles. But its starter is unlike anything you will find in this country. It compresses the air-diesel mixture for combustion. This, one of the last series of Bulldogs built, turned out 24 horsepower and utilized a rather unique electric starter built in 1960.
At the end of World War II, the vaunted British manufacturer Marshall Sons & Company looked to the future and introduced a highly stylized tractor that also featured a diesel engine. Operating at its rated speed of 650 rpm, this Mark I turned out an estimated 40 hp., put to work through a three-speed transmission.
Australia may be home to some unusual animals. But when it came to horsepower, Aussie farmers were no different than their North American brothers-in-plowshares. In 1912 came the Lightweight SD designed to serve as a farm tractor or road roller. Manufactured from 1916 to 1919, the single-cylinder SD featured a gooseneck front end that offered tight turning.
The Nuffield tractor story began in 1945 when the British government, attempting to restart the economy following World War II, approached the Nuffield Mechanisations organization to see if they would build an “all new” tractor. Introduced in 1967, toward the end of Nuffield’s existence, the Model 4/65 featured a four-cylinder, BMC-built 65-horsepower diesel engine and 10-speed transmission.
Porsche Junior Diesel
Yes, it carries the same name as that sexy automobile. The fact is that the Porsche tractors was designed by famed engineer Dr. Ferdinand Porsche who was also the design father of the Volkwagen car. The Friedrichshafen, Germany, Porsche firm offered four models for sale, which included the Junior, Standard (2-cylinder), Super (3-cylinder) and Master (4-cylinder).
Porsche Super Diesel
The three-cylinder Porsche Super Diesel Model 3 PL 33 employed an air-cooled engine that was rated for 37 horsepower. Built from 1957 to 1964, the Super Diesel offered such innovations as a tilting hood, passenger seat, four different PTO shafts and a spring-loaded front axle.
Sunshine Model A
The Sunshine Harvester Company was an Australian multinational business and made a full range of farm machinery over the years. The Company survived between 1904 and 1955. The Company produced just two tractor models, the 27 HP Model A and the 15 HP Model O. It sported a four cylinder Continental engine and was finished stylishly ‘along motor car lines’ in 1917.
GMV Model 25
This is a copy of a John Deere Model B built to capitalize on Deere’s popularity in Sweden. Gnosjo Mekaniska Verkstad’s Model 25 mimicked the B in every aspect, except every part of the tractor had a slight variation from its Deere original. Verkstad did this to avoid being sued by Deere & Company for patent infringement. As such, his venture in copy tractor was short lived.
Volvo DM T425
Volvo tractors were every bit a match in power and features to any American-built tractor. In fact their Model T424 offered a four-speed synchromesh transmission, hydraulics and three-point hitch. Its 97.6 cubic-inch, four cylinder gas engine turned out 17 drawbar horsepower at the Nebraska Tractor Test.
Check out this sample of European tractors. (text by Dave Mowitz)