A tractor named Sue is up for sale
This week’s Interesting Iron is a tractor named Sue (no, it wasn’t owned by Johnny Cash), a restored Ford Bronco that you have to see to believe, and a British tractor that I’ve wanted to write about since I started working for Tractor Zoom.
Let’s get into it!
A tractor named Sue...
If you read last week’s edition of Interseting Iron, you may remember Henry Ford getting into a price war with International Harvester in the early ’20s. He won that battle, but he wasn’t unbeatable. A few decades later, another tractor company built a tractor just to troll Henry Ford, and oh boy, did it work. Ferguson built the TO-20, which is just about identical to a 2N or a 9N Ford, and that DID irritate Ford quite a little bit.
That’s not why I picked this little tractor, though. I picked it because it has a really good story. The European version TO-20 (called the TE-20) was the first vehicle to turn a wheel in Antarctica! Sir Edmund Hillary used three “Fergies” on the first mechanized trip to the South Pole in 1958. Get this: They were almost bone-stock except for a heat-houser, tracks, and red paint. Some 1,250 miles of the worst terrain EVER, and these little tractors didn’t even flinch! They performed almost flawlessly.
This isn’t one of the ACTUAL tractors that Hillary used, but aside from the red paint and some very minor differences, this one is a twin. The best part is that these usually sell for next to nothing! This one is restored and has fresh rubber all around, so it could sell for a little more – maybe $1,500 to $2,000. That’s dirt cheap for an acreage tractor. Buy a small mower for it and you’ll be pretty much all set! (Actually, my buddy Pete bought one a couple of months ago and he LOVES it! It works great for the few acres of pasture he needs to take care of.)
Oh, and on the nickname thing ... Hillary and his team called one of those tractors “Sue.” I have no idea why, but the nickname stuck. That tractor is still on display at the Massey Ferguson Technology Centre in France.
The Mustang of the dirt...
It’s rare that you’d ever find a Bronco on Tractor Zoom. It’s not really our thing, y’know? At Tractor Zoom, we connect farmers to farm equipment auctions. We don’t do classic cars.
Yet ... here we are!
There’s something about a Bronco that just screams fun to me, especially in the first-generation model like this one. Ford designed and built them to compete with the Jeep CJ-5 and the International Scout in the mid-1960s, and I think the last one rolled off of the production line in 1996. They were small, no-frills trucks designed for fun, but often ended up working as a farm truck, too.
I don’t know much about this particular Bronco’s history, but I can tell you that a Ford fan from Minnesota owned it, and I believe he built it, too. It’s got a trusty 302 V-8 under the hood (with a few bolt-ons for more power), factory 4×4, automatic transmission, dual exhaust, and a VERY nice interior – leather seats, fresh carpet, the works!
Basically, this guy built the perfect backroad cruiser. If I were ever to build one, it would be identical except that it’d be blue. Other than that, this thing is PERFECT. Pull the top off, leave it in the shop, and let’s go have some fun with it!
Apparently, I’m not the only one who’s noticed this Bronco. As of 20 minutes ago when our CFO was drooling over it, the bid was at almost $29,000. The auction doesn’t end until Monday, so I’m guessing that’s enough time to get to $40,000 or better!
A Single-Barrel ... tractor?
FINALLY! I’ve literally been waiting to write something about the Field Marshall since I started working for Tractor Zoom! I think these are some of the coolest tractors ever made. Why?
Because you start ’em with a 12 gauge.
See that windy thing at the front left of the tractor? Load a 12-gauge shell in it (technically, it’s a blank – loading a tractor with birdshot is a bad idea). Then light a piece of rolled up newspaper and shove it into the cylinder head to act like a glow plug. Now go back around to the shell, and whack it with a hammer! The explosion of the shell creates enough force to push the single-piston through a revolution, and presto, the motor turns over, and away you go!
This starting system is a mildly modified version of the Coffman starter, which was used in a lot of airplanes and tanks in the ’30s and ’40s. It worked pretty well, and nearly everything in the American arsenal with a radial engine used a starter like this at one point. Nifty, huh? British custom harvesters loved these tractors because they made big power (almost 40 horse!) and they were really fuel-efficient!
Field Marshalls are super-collectible. They’re not super rare, but they’re always a big hit at tractor shows because of the shotgun start! (Case in point: I showed this to Kyle, our CEO, and sent him the link to a start-up video yesterday. I think he spent the next 15 minutes watching Field Marshall start-up videos on YouTube. I’m tellin’ you, those start-up videos are addictive!)
Hi! I'm Ryan, and I love tractors. It doesn't matter if it's a showpiece, an oddball, or seen its share of life...if it's unique and it's listed by one of our auctioneer partners at Tractor Zoom, I'm going to show it off a little bit! This equipment is all up for auction RIGHT NOW so you can bid on it. I think it's cool, and I hope you will too! This is Interesting Iron!