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All-Time Top 10 Tractor Series List

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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One of my top 10 tractor series of all-time is the International 56 series. This is a 1456. (Photo courtesy James Piotter of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota)

Everyone has a top 10 list, it seems, especially as we come to the end of the year. Here at DTN, we will soon have our list of the top 10 ag stories of 2020.

That got me thinking about an all-time top 10 list of tractors. Scanning the internet, I discovered many such lists already exist. However, these lists tended to break out individual tractors, whereas I was thinking more along the lines of series of tractors.

For instance, most lists had the John Deere A and B and International Farmall M and H listed separately. But, in my mind, I would group the A and B together and the M and H together. They were manufactured at the same time, so why take up nearly half of the top 10 list with just two series?

So, my top 10 list is actually what I would consider the top 10 tractor series of all time. Here it is:

-- No. 10 - Allis Chambers WC

Some might not include the WC, but it was the first tractor with pneumatic tires. About 178,000 WCs were built from 1934 to 1948, and you still see a WC or two at vintage iron shows/pulls today.

The WC was the best-selling series of all time for AC. Farmers during the Great Depression enjoyed the affordable price and basic design element.

-- No. 9 - Ford NAA (Golden Jubilee)

Maybe it's just the name, but the Ford NAA, or the Golden Jubilee, was an extremely popular tractor. Named for the 50th year of Ford, the series only ran for two years, 1953 and 1954.

Despite the short production run, nearly 130,000 of these tractors were manufactured. The 1953 model featured a special nose badge to note the anniversary.

-- No. 8 - John Deere 40 series

While a newer series (produced from 1977 to 1981), these tractors were extremely popular with farmers and continue to be used today. Five tractors (4040, 4240, 4440, 4640 and the 4840) made up this series.

I would certainly agree, as we have a 4440 on our farm.

-- No. 7 - Oliver four-digit series

In 1960, Oliver introduced the first of what is called the four-digit series. Later Oliver series included the 50 series and the 55 series.

The 1800 was a replacement for the 880, while the 1900 was the big tractor in the company's tractor line. In 1962, Oliver introduced the 1600.

-- No. 6 - International 56 series

As farms were increasing in size in the 1960s, International unveiled the 56 series in 1967. The lineup included the 65 horsepower (hp) 656, the 76 hp 756, 101 hp 856 and the 116 hp 1256.

I debated whether to include the International 66 series, as these were also extremely popular. Many farms still have a 966 or 1066 still in use.

-- No. 5 - Ford 8N

I was always confused about the Ford 2N, 8N and 9N tractors. Many tractors are identified by numbers or letters in order, but for Ford, the 9N came first, followed by the 2N and then the 8N.

The 9N was the first tractor to have both a three-point hitch and rear PTO. The 8N was produced from 1947 to 1952 and was extremely popular with 530,00 units sold during its run.

-- No. 4 - Allis Chalmers WD-45

Many people would include the Allis Chalmers WD-45 in an all-time list. This tractor was the first AC tractor to come with power steering.

The WD-45 was produced from 1953 to 1957. Just over 90,000 of these tractors were made, with 83,536 tractors having gasoline engines and 6,509 being diesels.

-- No. 3 - John Deere Letter Series (A, B)

Again, I am grouping both the A and the B together. In my mind, they really are one.

The A was manufactured from 1934 to 1952 with 300,000 units sold. The B's run was from 1935 to 1952 with 55,670 units sold. That is more than 355,000 of these tractors made during the letter series run.

-- No. 2 - John Deere 20 series

No list of all-time top tractors would be complete without the John Deere 20 series, which includes the smaller 3020 but is best known for the 4020 model.

Deere labeled their tractors as "new generation" in the early 1960s when the 10 series of tractors were introduced. In 1963, the 3010 was replaced by the 3020, and the 4010 was replaced with the 4020.

By 1966, the 4020 accounted for 48% of all tractor sales for the company. The tractor was produced from 1963 to 1972, and just under 185,000 were made.

I guess I am a little biased here, as we have two on our farm.

-- No. 1 - International Letter Series (H, M)

The M was built from 1939 to 1954 (this is including the Super series), and 270,000 tractors were built during this time. The H was produced from 1939 to 1953, and there were 391,227 tractors built.

Together, both series had about 660,000 tractors built, which is just a mind-blowing number. And that is why so many M's and H's are still running today.

What is your list? Did I forget any? Please let me know.

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Russ Quinn