When one thinks of collectible vehicles, most think of things like Corvettes, Mustangs, European exotics, or even a few classic Ford and Chevy pickups. It’s not uncommon to see whole warehouses filled such vehicles in various preserved states, after all.
However, would you consider a farm tractor as a collectible?
Turns out there’s a whole different world out there, where the likes of John Deere, International Harvester, and others have garnered a level of attention normally associated with old muscle, classic luxury, and performance vehicles. Some of the desirability is nostalgia for the family farm of days gone by, and some is the simplicity and honesty of these old fully manual workhorses, with their exposed works.
Should you be interested in starting a collection of your own, here’s a list of five collectible farm tractors for your barn. Clymer, through our I & T Manual line, covers the more commonly found old farm implements, but we can’t help you if your heart is set on a European exotic.
Here’s a tractor you can park next to your Porsche 911s and 944s. From 1956 through 1963, Porsche made a full line of air-cooled tractors to till the lands of a rebuilding Europe. The smallest of the line, the Junior, moves the earth with the help of an 822 cc single-cylinder diesel engine and a dual-range three-speed transmission. Most Porsche tractors were painted red, though some wore orange paint. They are easily recognizable by their curved hoods, and lack of a radiator out front. Extra bonus – the “Porsche Diesel” emblems are in the same typeface as on their sports cars.
Before Lamborghini built exotic cars like the Miura, Countach, and Aventador, the company was born as a tractor manufacturer and had to build their first units from discarded war materials. It wouldn’t be long, though, before Lamborghini began to drop one of the finest tractors into many an Italian vineyard, the Lamborghinetta. Introduced in 1957, the 2.0-liter twin-cylinder rocked the colors of Gulf Oil long before any Ford GT40 or Porsche 917 ever did.
From 1939 to 1952, the blue oval company built a quite a few tractors under the N-Series banner. The first of these, the 9N, was the first tractor built in the United States to use the now-standard three-point hitch system developed in Britain by inventor Harry Ferguson. Meanwhile, the 8N closed out the N-Series era with tons of improvements over the 9N and 2N, including a four-speed transmission and greater horsepower for power take-off and drawbars. The 9N and 2N were dark gray all over, while the 8N wore light gray over red.
I & T Manual FO-4 covers all of the Ford 2N, 8N, and 9N tractors.
International Harvester Farmall Letter Series
From the 1930s through the 1970s, one tractor reshaped U.S. agriculture more than any other: the International Harvester Farmall. The Farmall was originally built for small and medium farms to handle jobs that would otherwise have required lots of farm hands or beasts of burden to tackle. This red tractor led the way towards the mechanization of agriculture in America, one bright shiny unit at a time. It was the Model T of its kind, as International Harvester mass-produced the Farmall with the aim of low-cost manufacturing and high value in mind. Ford may have gotten started in tractors earlier, but IH succeeded by being better at meeting the needs of a diverse market.
Farmall models A, B, C, H, M, their “Super” variants, the little Farmall Cub, and many more are all found inside I & T Manual IH-8.
John Deere Model D
We can’t finish this list without including the famed green-and-yellow of John Deere, which first produced tractors in 1912. Then things really got rolling when they bought the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company in 1918 to further the company’s aims. Their first new tractor following the purchase was the Model D, introduced on March 1, 1923. This mechanical workhorse weathered a major economic depression and the second world war before it finally left the line on July 3, 1953. The first Model Ds rode on yellow steel wheels with cleats, but were too slow to take down the road. By the end of its life, the last Ds were streamlined beasts with plenty of horsepower to go around, and rubber tires to travel no matter where work took them.
I & T Manual JD-4 covers the Model D, M, and MT, as well as the Series A, B, G, and H.