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Greatest Tractors of All Time . . .let the debate begin!!!!!!










Here is your opportunity to have your voice heard on what certainly has to be one of the more crucial questions facing mankind . . .what was the greatest tractor of all time?!

True, I jest.

But the topic weighs heavy on all our minds during those idle moments at the end of the day, or when talking to a neighbor over the fence or for small farm boys defending their turf on the playground.

I can recall, with some detail, the day my best friend in grade school pronounced that any tractor that wasn’t a Farmall 806 wasn’t worth spit.

I replied that anything that wasn’t Deere wasn’t worth what I pitched in the manure spreader the day before. A John Deere 4020 would wipe the field with a Farmall 806 any day.

Carl, a mutual friend overhearing this debate, was to quick correct us both with the fact that everyone knew the Minneapolis-Moline Five Star was the king of tractors.

The three of us wouldn’t talk to each other for a week!

Dave Mowitz

Editor, Ageless Iron Almanac

Machinery Director, Successful Farming Magazine

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43 Replies

Re: Greatest Tractors of All Time . . .let the debate begin!!!!!!


You know I'm a hard-core Oliver man so I was devastated to see only 3 entries from that lineup.

I think the Oliver 770 was a great small farm tractor in it's day.  It could do about anything.

The Oliver 1650 is a much beloved all-around tractor that can work in the field and in the lot.

The Oliver 550 was and is a very popular utility or yard or lot tractor.

Where is the Versatile or other big frame tractor?  Did they start a trend?

Minneapolis 335 was one of the sweetest yard tractors ever made


What technological criteria do you list?  Here are some ideas that I hope you considered:

1.  Live power take off

2.  Viable and accepted three point hitch

3.  Practical and popular front wheel mechanical drive or front wheel assist

4.  Feasible diesel engine power, including turbo

5.  Safety and comfort features such as ROPS/cab, air conditioning, built in GPS and autosteer capability

6.  Efficient and dependable hydraulics

7.   Suspension, steering, brakes and wheels that are efficient, safe and comfortable.

8.  Maintainable to a great extent by the owner/operator


One tractor for all seasons considering the time it came out?

Oliver 1755 wide front diesel with cab and air conditioning


Now, Dave, you should let us throw out one of the tractors you put in.  Of all the tractors there, the ones that are overrated are:

John Deere 4010 (the Olivers were ahead of it and better)

Ford 8N - the only good thing about it was the idea, not the execution - I was happy when Dad traded ours





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Veteran Contributor

Re: Greatest Tractors of All Time . . .let the debate begin!!!!!!

wouldnt the 966 ,4020  , b john deere, 4440 fit in?

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Re: Greatest Tractors of All Time . . .let the debate begin!!!!!!

Hmmm...... I'm a little biased and think there should have been a Ford in there....  8000, 9600, or 7710.  Was Wagner making WA14's before the Steiger boys were building tractors in their barn?  The Magnum was a nice step forward in '87 except for the 2 reverse gears (super slow and even slower).  And what about Cockshutt?  Until their buyout and untimely demise they were a very popular and respected Canadian product.  Also, where are the uber popular and sought (by some) Oliver 2255 and Deere 6030, or the infamous one-off 16V747?  I can see the Challenger 65 for getting rubber tracks in the field, though I personally have not seen very many.  Ferguson gave us the 3 point hitch so that is a good entry.  I would even give Steyr and Fendt a nod for starting the CVT/IVT (imitation variable trans) trend of increasing popularity.  Just a few thoughts.

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Greatest Tractors of All Time . . .let the debate begin!!!!!!

a couple I can think of are the JD 4020, Jd 4440, and you have to have a Steiger and /or  a Versatile in the mix.  Not sure which model of the 4WD's I'd pick.

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iowa john

Re: Greatest Tractors of All Time . . .let the debate begin!!!!!!

 The W D allis chalmers has to be a fore runner,first stream-lined,widefront,power steering,live hyd. through hand clutch, spinout wheels, all around economical tractor to operate and maintain. Followed closely behind, the WD 45. One of the greatest allaround tractor 's ever for it's lb. ratio.               john

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iowa john

Re: Greatest Tractors of All Time . . .let the debate begin!!!!!!

I  had a 966  and it was a good work horse but by the time you replaced the 3/16 pin in the shifting wing,carried a box of them with me at all times, repaired the front end and then got it started you could hitch up the mules and be about done with whatever you started out to do and not be half as frustrated.. Didn't keep it around very long. john

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Re: Greatest Tractors of All Time . . .let the debate begin!!!!!!

LOL.  Least you got rid of it before it scored the pistons.  Had two neighbors with 966's that both had that happen.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Greatest Tractors of All Time . . .let the debate begin!!!!!!

If the criteria is only ground breaking features then perhaps the WD or WD45 could be considered.  But if "ground breaking" is the qualifying issue then the Farmall Regular, Ford 9N  or perhaps the Fordson trumps.  Poor engine in the Fordson and 9N and the Regular had horrible operator comfort but all were ground breaking.  No doubt the earlier AC's had excellent engines but one had to use their implements or they would hardly pull the hat off of your head.  Love my MM's but they shouldn't be considered the greatest tractors either.  Olivers also introduced many features but with the Waukesha engine I don't think they rank at the top either.  The Perkins was a significant improvement but by that time others had better tractors.  Not real impressed with the Hercules engine either.  Got to take a hard look at the JD 4020 which is certainly a fine tractor.  I like and own many IH tractors but can't imagine any of the 06 thru the 86 series really trumping the competition, although the 1206 certainly surprised JD.   I consider the early JD A an overall better tractor than the huge selling F20 so therefore might be a viable candidate.

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Senior Advisor

Re: We had a couple of super 88 diesels

and a 77 gasser. I think the 77 was one of the sweetest sounding tractors ever made. The 88's were good workhorses and had the hydraelectric controls and you could adjust the hydraulic cylinder stops from the seat. Pretty darn handy.


I talked the boss into buying a IH 560 and he owned it about a week and traded it for a 4010 which was soon traded for a 4020. I would say the 4020 would be my pick for the best tracor as thousands of farmers bought the tractor and many are bringing new price yet today. Incredible that a mid 60's tractor are still worth as much as they were when brand new.

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