The Tacoma of tractors?

Does anybody else feel like there must’ve been an Allis-Chalmers 185 in nearly every barn in the Midwest?

Nope? Just me, huh?

Well, regardless of whether I’m right or wrong, the model 185 was one of the cornerstones of Allis’s 100-series tractors. Allis-Chalmers sold almost 15,000 of this model over 11 years of production (1970-1981). Sure, John Deere sold a 4430 every 36 minutes for five years. But that was a 139-hp. tractor in the age of modern power farming. The Allis 185 had a small-cube naturally-aspirated motor that only made 83 horses!

So why was it so popular? From where I’m sitting, the 185 was just about perfect for chores. I looked in our Iron Comps database (it's basically the blue book of farm equipment) and nearly 20% of the 185s in there were sold with a loader or a bale spear attached to them! 

What it boils down to, I think, is their size. The 185 is about 15% (ish) smaller than a 4430 or a 1066 (the “big” tractors of the era). Still, the 301-cube inline-six makes enough power that it can do big tractor things if it has to.

The beauty in a tractor of this size is that it can do a lot of things that a big tractor CAN’T … because they’re too big! There are still thousands of 185s on farms across America earning their keep by mowing ditches, running augers, and loading hay bales.

Do you know why the Toyota Tacoma is so popular? Aside being really well-built, it’s because they’re big enough to do full-size truck things. Yet they are small enough to still fit in a standard two-stall garage in the suburbs. That’s exactly why the Allis Chalmers 185 was so popular!

This particular tractor (seen above) happens to be in a lot nicer shape than your average 185. It’s a one-owner tractor from up in Minnesota, and it’s only got 4,153 original hours on it.

The trator lived a pretty easy life, too. The former owner used it mainly for dragging a 175-bushel gravity wagon and pulling an 18-foot disk in the spring.

So, if you’re looking for a really nice do-it-all kind of tractor that’ll hustle through small fields or spin an auger for hours on end, this lithe 185 might be perfect for you!

Allis-Chalmers 185 tractor

My good friend Matt Maring ( is handling the auction that features the tractor seen above. But the sale ends on Sunday! So if you are interested in a cherry Allis 185, be sure to participate.

Oh – and one more thing. This particular Allis-Chalmers 185 was the third tractor off the manufacturing line in 1979!

To join the auction, go to:

Ryan Roossinck

Hi! I’m Ryan, and I love tractors. It doesn’t matter if it’s a showpiece, an oddball, or has 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 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!

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