Trucks & Heavy Equipment | 24 May 20165 of the World’s Rarest Tractors Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Robert Pripps’ Tractor Factor has tractors to fit all kinds of tastes and collections. But some stand above the others when it comes to fame and rarity. Some may have seen low production numbers, while others just have few surviving specimens, but what they all have in common is that they are incredibly hard to find, and draw the eye of any collector. Take a look at 5 of the rarest tractors around. 5.) 1960 Massey-Ferguson 98/Oliver Super 99 GM The Oliver Super 99 GM was built between 1955 and 1959. For 1959 and 1960, some 500 of them were sold to Massey-Ferguson to be rebadged and resold as Massey-Ferguson 98s (along with a Massey grille in place of the Oliver grille). Updated Oliver versions, labeled 990 and 995, continued in production through 1961; some of these, and later Super 99GMs, were equipped with torque converters. All of these were truly awesome machines, but the Massey-Ferguson version, with only 500 being sold, is truly rare. Probably the most interesting thing about this tractor is its three-cylinder, two-cycle diesel, made by General Motors. This engine, designated by GM as the 3-71 (for 3 cylinders of 71 cubic inches each), had a total displacement of only 213 ci, but because each cylinder had a power-stroke on each revolution, it had power as if it was twice as big, and at its rated speed of 1,675 rpm, it sounded like it was going twice as fast. In addition, the GM engine was blower-scavenged, which meant it used a Rootes-type blower to purge exhaust gases and to supercharge the compression. No intake valves were used, but the pistons uncovered intake ports when at the bottom of their strokes. When these ports were uncovered, conventional exhaust valves opened, and the blower swept exhaust gases out. The blower also added to the sound, so that one of these in full flight howled like a banshee. A characteristic of the engine was that it lost power quickly if the rpm dropped. Therefore, unlike other diesels, it was best to keep it howling at all times. Most of these were built in the South Bend, Indiana, plant, but production after 1958 was transferred to the Charles City, Iowa, plant. At 85 horsepower, these were the most powerful wheel tractors of their day. Fully ballasted, they would weigh in at more than 15,000 pounds. 4.) 1925 John Deere D (Spoker) When John Deere took over the Waterloo Boy outfit in 1918, work was already underway on a new, more modern tractor design to replace the Waterloo Boy. John Deere engineers continued the development through four prototypes, each given a letter designator A through D. The D version became the John Deere D. It would be one of the longest- produced US tractor models, running from 1923 to 1953 with around 160,000 manufactured. However, not many were made with spoked versus solid flywheels, which makes the “Spoker” rare and valuable. Serial numbers 30401 through 31279, made in 1923–24, were furnished with 26-inch spoked flywheels. Serial numbers 31280 through 36248 had 24-inch spoked flywheels. This means that there were about 5,800 made (Model D serial numbering became confused when continued Waterloo Boy production serial numbers began to overlap those of the D). The two-cylinder side-by-side horizontal engine of the D was largely the same as that of the Waterloo Boy but larger in displacement at 465 ci. A two-speed transmission was provided a top speed of 3.25 mph. During University of Nebraska Test No. 102, performed in 1924, the D recorded 30.4 belt horsepower. Weight was 4,100 pounds. 3.) 1918 Waterloo Boy R The tractor that got John Deere into the tractor business took shape back in 1915 under the auspices of the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company of Waterloo, Iowa. The name “Waterloo Boy” is thought to be both a reference to the name of the town and to the welcome “water boy,” whose job it was to carry cool, refreshing water to the thirsty members of threshing crews. The Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company had made tractors in several styles prior to 1915 when the R was settled upon. It was produced through 1919, overlapping its successor, the N, which came out in 1917. Deere and Company bought the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company in 1918. Production of the N continued through 1924, overlapping its successor, the John Deere D. There were more than 10,000 Waterloo Boy Rs made, of which some 4,000 were sent to Britain during World War I. Imported to alleviate the food shortage resulting from the German submarine threat, these were renamed “Overtime” by their importer. The Waterloo Boy R was a four wheel, rearwheel-drive machine with one speed forward and one in reverse. The engine was a horizontal side-by-side two-cylinder of 395 cid; this type of engine would characterize Deere tractors for the next 42 years. Displacement was increased to 465 ci in 1917. Steering was by swing axle, chain, and bolster. The steering wheel was on the right, the gas tank in the front. The cooling radiator was generally on the right. A belt-driven fan induced the cooling. The R weighed in at about 5,900 pounds. Only the N was tested at the University of Nebraska but was generally in the 20- to 25-belt-horsepower class. 2.) 1938 Graham-Bradley 503-103 Possibly the most stylish tractor of all time, the Graham-Bradley was particularly striking in 1938. Graham-Paige Motors Corporation of Detroit, Michigan, produced this nifty tractor exclusively for the giant mail-order firm of Sears, Roebuck & Company of Chicago. The tractor was called the Graham-Bradley as the Bradley name had been used by Sears for farm items for some time. Graham-Paige, an automobile manufacturer, had its heritage in the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company, founded in 1908. In 1928, the Graham brothers acquired the company, renaming it Graham-Paige Motors Corporation, and it continued producing stylish automobiles until World War II. The 503-103 tricycle version was offered through Sears from 1938 to 1941. A wide-front version, the 503-104, was introduced in 1939 and was carried to 1941, as well. Both were otherwise the same, using Graham-Page’s 218-ci L-head six-cylinder engine from its car but governed to 1,500 rpm. As such it produced a maximum belt horsepower of 30. The belt pulley was downstream of the four-speed transmission and therefore had four belt-pulley speeds. Top speed of the Graham-Bradley was a racy (for 1938) 20 mph. A clear picture of how many Graham-Bradley tractors were made is not apparent, but Graham car production in those days only amounted to 10,000 to 12,000 automobiles. Drawing a parallel to the tractors means the Graham-Bradleys are likely quite rare. At the end of World War II, Graham-Paige president Joseph Frazer merged his company with that of Henry J. Kaiser, the ship-building magnate. The resulting Kaiser-Frazer automobile company never revived tractor production. 1.) 1938 Minneapolis-Moline UDLX Comfortractor The “Holy Grail” of tractor collecting, the UDLX is one of the most sought-after tractors of all time. The best estimates are that 150 were made between 1938 and 1941. Very few were delivered to farmers, who worked them in their fields by day and then drove them to town in the evening. Most were driven by custom threshermen able to scoot between jobs towing the thresher at 40 mph. Stories recount Minneapolis-Moline salesmen driving Comfortractors to visit dealerships; that, however, seems to have been rare indeed. The UDLX (or U-Deluxe) Comfortractor was a version of the M-M U Series tractors. The UDLX featured items like a shift-on-the-fly five-speed transmission, tip-out windshields, windshield wipers, high- and low-beam headlights, taillights, heater, speedometer, and even a cigar lighter. There was somewhat cramped seating for three. The fully enclosed cab was comfortable for road trips, but since there were no hydraulics, the back door had to be open for access to trailed implements. Also, there were no provisions for a belt pulley or PTO shaft, so the tractor was only useful for pulling jobs. Since there were no springs on either axle, the UDLX tended to waddle down the road. Power for the UDLX came from an overheadvalve four-cylinder gasoline engine of 284 ci. It produced about 42 horsepower. The tractor weighed 4,500 pounds. While most of these have already undergone extensive restoration, those who have done so will say that it was not an inexpensive job. One of the main difficulties is that the cab structure was made of wood. The years have taken their toll, producing dry rot in these structure members, which now have to be carefully copied and remade. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: With tractor historian Robert N. Pripps, take a close look at some of the most collectible vintage tractors from the United States, the UK, Germany, Holland, France, and other countries. Vintage farm tractors are revered throughout the world as the source of mechanical labor, allowing the revolution of farming to take place in the twentieth century. Some of the most interesting tractors are also the rarest, since they were produced in very small quantities. These include one-of-a-kind modified models; very, very old machines; and models produced by one of the many companies that made tractors for only a short time. The Tractor Factor is a richly illustrated book that reveals what makes a tractor collectible, showcases the rarest models, gives a history of the marque, and details specific finds. Robert N. Pripps, a leading tractor historian, covers models from the United States, the UK, Germany, Holland, France, and other countries. Pripps’ expertise, paired with the stunning photography of Ralph W. Sanders and Andrew Morland, makes The Tractor Factor a book no fan of these paradigm-changing machines will want to miss! Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.