Funkiest Ford in the county

The County 1164 definitely isn’t your average mid-70s farm tractor. It’s a neat little thing, though, and one we don’t see all that often at farm equipment auctions. I did a little digging around: I don’t think we’ve seen one since sometime in 2018!

So what is this thing, and why do I keep calling it a Ford? Because at the end of the day, the County 1164 was built in England by County Commerical Cars, Ltd. using Ford parts!

This definitely qualifies as a funky Ford, and I think it's cool. It sells at an onsite retirement auction in Unionville, Missouri, on March 13, 2021!

See the details on the funkiest Ford in the County!

County Commercial Cars, Ltd.

County was an interesting company. The brainchild of two brothers from England, Ernest and Percy Tapp, the company went into business in 1929. The business? Converting Ford AA straight trucks from single drive axle to two axle trucks to deliver supplies around London! The business was massively successful. Before long, the Tapp brothers were building all manner of heavy-duty trucks for the British military, too. They even experimented with building a small, two-man tank called the Praying Mantis that could fire over city walls. Here’s some video footage of it.

Sketchy, huh?

By the late ’40s, the Tapp brothers found themselves messing around with converting Fordson Majors to crawlers for a government contract. Little did they realize that these little Fordson Majors would lead to HUGE things down the road...

1954 was the first year that County built a four-wheel-drive tractor. It was called the County Four Drive, and it was also based on the Fordson Major. The finished product wasn’t super-elegant (they steered using a lever setup they’d built for the crawlers), but it worked. Most of these were sent to the West Indies to work in the sugarcane fields.

The tractor business really took off for County in the ’60s. Beginning with the County Super 4 (a converted Fordson Super Major), the company released at least six four-wheel-drive models from 1960-1970. They were a massive success in Great Britain, and it wasn’t long before they were selling their tractors globally. During the ’70s, when production was at its peak, 70% of their sales were outside of Great Britain!

The County 1164: The hits keep on comin!

The 1164 was one of the best selling tractors County ever produced. It was built from 1971 until some time in 1977, replacing the massively successful 1124. It was a fresh design – a new generation of tractors for County, and also the first available with an integral cab. I was never able to find a final production number, but I’m fairly sure that they built more of these tractors than anything else.

The County 1164 was the biggest farm tractor the company had built, and it was pretty stout! It mated a beefed-up version of the Ford 5000’s driveline with a mildly detuned 401 inline-six from the Ford 8000. It was the first tractor they’d ever built that cracked the 100-hp. barrier in testing, too, so that definitely added to the appeal.

Toward the end of the run, County did change up a few things in the driveline and motor for increased durability. The last few tractors used the transmission from the Ford 7600 and the motor from the 8600. I’m not sure how many were built this way, but I’m told this is the combo to have.

Advertisement for Country 1164 tractor
TractorZoom.com

Here's an example of some of the County advertising for the 1164. Those big tires definitely grab your attention!

I’ve never found accurate numbers for tractors imported to the United States. I’ve heard rumors that there were only 320 County 1164s brought over, but I wouldn’t swear to it. Suffice it to say, though, not many of them made their way to American soil. They weren’t marketed very well over here. Furthermore, by the mid-70s, most of the American manufacturers had their own options available.

Countys downfall

County continued making successful tractors for various markets into the early ’80s. They even built some really beefy tractors based on the 9000 and the TW models from Ford. (Think Ford 9000 meets monster truck... They look pretty neat!)

Sadly, the farm crisis of the ’80s had global effects, which took their toll on the company. County went under in 1983. The brand name has changed hands a few different times since then, but none of the original employees are involved, so it’s not really the same. One bright spot, though: I’ve heard there’s a decent stash of parts available from various suppliers in Great Britain.

The County 1164 you can bid on...

The one in the photo lives in Unionville, Missouri (about two hours straight south of me). It’s been owned for years by a noted tractor mechanic who always puts it in the summer parades in the area. Suffice it to say, it’s lived a pretty cushy life for a while now!

I talked with Rusty Sands, the auctioneer handling the sale on March 13, and he told me that it runs and drives great. The pumpkins for the front drive setup have both been recently rebuilt, and it’s in great mechanical shape! It’s got nearly brand-new rubber, as well!

That said, the tractor does need some cosmetic attention. If you were going to put it into a collection, the hood needs a better coat of paint. The badging has been painted in lieu of the factory correct decals, and the grille isn’t right, either. Lastly, it needs a County emblem for the front.

Overall, this tractor has a LOT of great things going for it! There definitely aren’t many of these tractors in the States that aren’t rotting away in a boneyard somewhere. Furthermore, this one runs and drives great, and the tin is straight! Cosmetic issues aside, this is a great tractor!

One other thing: I hate to say it, but Rusty’s auction on March 13 is an onsite-only sale. If you’re going to bid on this tractor, you’ll need to take a road trip to do it. I typically try to write about stuff with online bidding, but every now and again this happens. If it’s any consolation, Unionville is a nice town and the people will be glad to see you!

Wrapping up...

I think County tractors are cool. I don’t care if they have the turning radius of the Titanic. They’re a neat tractor, and the company is a great example of engineering and problem solving in action. These funky workhorses are about as rare as they get here in the States, too! I’d love to own this one myself! (Don’t tell my wife...) 

So, do me a favor. Get in the truck and go buy this tractor when it sells next Saturday so I don’t keep trying to justify heading down there to buy it myself! (If it helps, there are a bunch of fairly clean older tractors on this sale, including a freshly-rebuilt Series III D21!)

See the details on this tractor

Ryan Roossinck
TractorZoom.com

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 them! I think they’re cool, and I hope you will, too. This is Interesting Iron!

Read more about

Tip of the Day

Agronomy Tip: Manage Increased Weed Pressure

A water hemp plant in a farmer's hand. Preventive planting in 2019 has led to increased weed pressure.

Machinery Talk