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First four-wheel-drives

  • Big Bud 747

    Big Bud 747: The Big Bud 747 tractor was built in 1977 in Havre, Montana, by the Northern Manufacturing Company. The tractor was built to produce 760 horsepower using a 16-cylinder Detroit Diesel engine. The tractor measures 27 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 14 feet tall. The tires were specially made by United Tire Company of Canada and are 8 feet in diameter. When the 1,000-gallon fuel tank is full the tractor tips the scales at over 100,000 pounds.

  • CAST 435L

    CAST 435L: CAST tractors, like the Model 435L, proved to be years ahead of their time, offering then unheard of designs like four-wheel steering, braking, and suspension. CAST Trattori of Bologna, Italy, also equipped their 435L, sold in the late 1950s, with an equally unique hydraulically controlled differential lock and two-way PTO. This feature normally ran at 650 rpm but could be coupled to a transmission where it would turn 4.8 revolutions for every meter covered by the tractors.

  • Fitch Four-Drive

    Fitch Four-Drive: The Fitch Four-Drive was the brainchild of farmer John H. Fitch, who made history by designing a tractor that had four powered wheels. The Four-Drive, offered in eight different models (the Cat Model E 15-30 is shown here), was built rugged to a fault and gained a reputation for generating enormous drawbar power. During the National Tractor Demonstration in 1918, a Four-Drive pulled a four-bottom plow nonstop for 88 hours, tilling a total of 100 acres!

  • Harris Power Horse

    Harris Power Horse: Farmers were given an alternative to crawler tractors in 1952 with the Power Horse design. The Stockton, California-based firm that built the Power Horse equipped the four-wheel-drive tractor with hand brakes that worked through a planetary gear system to engage one or both sides of the tractor producing a tight 5-foot turning radius. Harris stated that any movement could be reversed at 50% of the tractor’s rated speed.

  • Heer

    Heer: The first patented four-wheel-drive technology debuted on a 1915 tractor designed by Chris Heer. This particular model was equipped with a Heer-built, horizontally-opposed, two-cylinder engine that churned out 25 hp. Boasting a turning radius of just 8 feet (which was unheard of for tractors of that day) the 9,000-pound machine featured a three-speed transmission, another rarity for its time.

  • International 4300

    International 4300: The giant 300 horsepower International 4300 was introduced in 1961 after two years in development. Offered with a companion 10-bottom mounted plow, the 4300 was “stall-built” by the Frank G Hough Company of Libertyville, Illinois. The tractor was powered by an IHC-built 817 cubic-inch, six-cylinder turbocharged diesel that turned out 166 horsepower making it the most powerful tractor of its time.

  • J.I. Case 1200 Traction King

    J.I. Case 1200 Traction King: The 1200 Traction King marked Case’s entry into four-wheel-drive tractors in 1964. Selling for about $20,000, the 1200 turned out 120 PTO horsepower from a Case-built six-cylinder diesel with 451 cubic inch displacement. The tractor was equipped with a Category III three-point hitch, dual remote hydraulics and deluxe seat. The 1200 was unique in the marketplace as it was the only tractor sold with four-wheel (as opposed to articulated) steering.

  • John Deere 8010

    John Deere 8010: John Deere’s first four-wheel-drive tractor was the 8010, which was introduced in 1960 – one year ahead of the introduction of Deere’s New Generation of power. Deere rated the 8010 for 215 engine and 150 drawbar horsepower, which was adequate for it to pull an eight-bottom plow or 31-foot harrow. Features include articulate steering, eight-speed Syncro-Range transmission, air brakes, an oil-cooled clutch and 24-volt electrical system.

  • Massey-Harris GP

    Hassey-Harris GP: The General Purpose (GP) had four equal-size wheels powered through the use of a transfer case and front and rear differentials. The front axle employed a universal joint steering design that allowed the tractor to turn in an amazingly tight 6-foot diameter. Another nice touch was a rear axle that pivoted side-to-side. This allowed the drive wheels to stay in contact with the soil regardless of field contours.

  • Steiger #1

    Steiger #1: John Steiger and his sons built their own four-wheel-drive tractor in 1957, which would later become a sellable Model 1. Within six years, the family was fabricating tractors in five model variations, and the Steiger Tractor Company was born. What differentiated the Steiger four-wheel drives from other competitors in the field was that each of their models were built on a different frame size. By 1970, nearly 70 dealers selling the line in North America.

  • Versatile D-100

    Versatile D-100: Versatile Manufacturing introduced their first tractor, the four-wheel-drive Versatile D-100 Diesel, in 1966. Powered by a six-cylinder, 363 cubic inch Ford powerplant, the D-100 turned out an estimated 125 engine and 100 drawbar horsepower. A gasoline version of the tractor, the G-100, was sold with a 318 cubic-inch Chrysler engine. Either tractor was equipped with a three-speed transmission coupled with a four-range transfer case.

  • Wagner WA-14

    Wagner WA-14: After 16 years of development, the Wagner brothers announced their first four-wheel drive tractor in 1953, the model TR-9. Powered by a four-cylinder Cummins 495 cubic-inch diesel rated at 1,800 rpm, the TR-9 turned out 69 drawbar horsepower at the Nebraska Tractor Test. Features included a ten-speed transmission and articulated steering. By 1956 Wagner sold three models, including the TR-9, 57 horsepower TR-6 and 73 horsepower TR-14.

The concept of a four-wheel drive tractor, even one that was articulated, is certainly not a new concept.

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