There are few things as American as a John Deere tractor. “Nothing runs like a Deere” is one of the most recognizable marketing slogans out there; Deere is the subject of country music songs (on a recent album, Jason Aldean sings "I’ll take you for a ride on my big green tractor…”); and Deere & Company stands alone as the last of the original U.S. tractor companies still in business.

The roots of the company date to 1837, when John Deere, a Vermont blacksmith, used a steel saw blade to make a plow that efficiently cut through tough soil. The invention was necessitated by Deere’s move that year to Rock River, Illinois, where the soil was stickier than back home in New England.

Deere soon began making steel plows for sale, hawking his creation to farmers along the Mississippi River. Deere acquired business partner after business partner, but each alliance ended in failure until he joined forces with his son Charles, a trained accountant. In 1857, Charles Deere, who would later be responsible for the rapid spread of the company’s popularity after his father’s death, was named vice president.

The Deere plows remained reliant on draft horses, but Charles Deere could see that new types of horse power would be Deere's future. Accordingly, he led the company's drive to appropriate technologies from other firms. By 1889, after the death of John Deere, the company was finally able to advertise its New Deal six-gang plow, which was powered by a steam engine. Advertisements claimed it could plow 20 acres a day at 50 cents an acre.

Steam would be an interim step for Deere, which was setting its sights on the possibilities of internal-combustion engines. What had caught Charles Deere's eye was an 1882 machine resembling a modern-day tractor. That machine was the brainchild of John Froelich, who had found a way to use a gasoline engine to pull a plow.

Froelich’s business, the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company, was not the only competitor Deere faced. In fact, the early parts of the 20th century saw many battles between Deere and its toughest competitor, International Harvester, which, like Deere, had been formed in part by acquiring other firms. It was a rivalry that would linger long after Charles Deere’s death in 1907.

In 1906, International Harvester had produced an actual tractor, which gave it a competitive edge over Deere. It took Deere until 1911 to advertise a tractor of its own, and even...

Finally, on March 14, 1918, Deere purchased Froelich’s Waterloo for $2,350,000 to get into the tractor business. Still, Deere struggled to design profitable tractors shortly after the acquisition—it wasn't until the early 1920s that Deere found success with the two-cylinder Waterloo Boys. However, because it was a one-model company, Deere was susceptible to market shifts. Rival Henry Ford was producing the Fordson tractor, which he was able to manufacture at a loss because he could offset losses with gains from his automobile line. Deere did not have that luxury.

By the middle of the decade, Deere unveiled the two-cylinder Model D Johnny Popper. Subsequent Deere models were also called Johnny Poppers or Poppin’ Johnnies, and even though Ford and International Harvester had gone to four cylinders, Deere stuck to two. The first Model Ds in 1923 and 1924 had a 26-inch spoked flywheel, which was subsequently changed to a thicker 24-inch wheel, and the steering wheel was moved to the left side of the tractor and connected to the front axle.

In 1926, Deere introduced the Model C. This unique three-row cultivator differentiated itself from rivals like International Harvester’s Farmall, which came in two- or four-row models. The tractor also used power from the engine to power the cultivator. The machine was a success and by 1927, Deere was exporting tractors around the world.

Next up for Deere was the General Purpose (GP) tractor and the GP Wide Tread tractor, released in 1928 and 1929 respectively. In 1934, the Model A was introduced—this two-plow tractor featured an adjustable tread width and burned almost any fuel. A year later, the single-plow Model B appeared—it was almost identical to the Model A, but smaller.

Deere continued to produce different tractor models to adjust to the changes in the market and technological advances. There was the Model G, a three-plow tractor released in 1938; the rare 1936 Model Y (also called the 62, only about 100 were produced), which was later converted to the three-speed Model L; and the 10-horsepower LA, introduced in 1941.

The L and LA models were made until 1946. In the decades that followed, Deere & Company moved into other areas of farm machinery, as well as the manufacture of lawn equipment. But one thing never changed—the company's signature green-and-yellow colors date to Deere's 1905 catalog.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Steel Wheels

Steel Wheels

David Parfitt's excellent and comprehensive tribute to pre-1930s tractors. The well-posed, high resolution photos i… [read review or visit site]

McCormick International Harvester Collection

McCormick International Harvester Collection

Farm and tractor collectors will appreciate this incredible trove of 30,000 images and documents on the Internation… [read review or visit site]

AntiqueTractors.com

AntiqueTractors.com

A great reference and community forum on antique tractors. Start with the 39-page master photo list, showing thousa… [read review or visit site]



Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1956 John Deere 420c Antique Crawler Tractor No Reserve Very Nice Oliver FarmallJohn Deere 820 80 70 730 830 R 720 4020 6030 G 520 620 320 3301930 John Deere D Unstyled Antique Tractor No Reserve Nice Tractor Oliver 1959 John Deere 530 Antique Tractor No Reserve Three Point Hitch Farmall OliverRestored John Deere Model A 1951 John Deere (a) High Crop1956 John Deere 520 Antique Tractor No Reserve Original Wide Front Three PointJohn Deere 2010 Tractor1956 John Deere 80 Antique Tractor No Reserve Good Pony Motor Runs Excellent1953 John Deere G A B G. D R L M H 730 720 701959 John Deere 430 530 330 630 730 830 4020 6030 720 420 40 G Very Nice John Deere 750 4 X 4 Tractor Only 1200 Hours1946 John Deere H & No. 5 - 7" Sickle MowerJohn Deere 2305Vintage 1940's John Deere Tractor Farm 13" Metal Thermometer SignIh Farmall 18.4 X 34 Rear Tractor Tires Oliver Deere Ford Massey - 99% ConditionJohn Deere 400 Diesel Industrial Tractor, Same As John Deere 2020John Deere 3020 Top Link Antique Tractor No Reserve Will Fit 3010 3020 4101 4020 Nice John Deere 4200 4 X 4 Tractor With 72 Inch Belly Mower2001 John Deere 8210 Tractor 185hp John Deere 16 Speed Power Shift Mfwd2008 John Deere 6430 Tractor 110 John Deere 16 Speed Power Quad Iowa John Deere Vintage Original Model 430 TractorJohn Deere Antique Tractor Step A B G 50 60 70 520 530 620 630 720 730John Deere 3020 Tractor 1964. Loader And Snow BladeJohn Deere Vintage Original Model 445 Tractor Sigomec RareJohn Deere Vintage Original Model 440 Industrial Tractor1938 John Deere Unstyled Model G On Steel Wheels Serial # 15062012 John Deere 614d Tractor 140hp John Deere Power Shift Mfwd South DakotaJohn Deere TractorJohn Deere A Restored Tractor1959 John Deere 530 Lp Tricycle Tractor Serial # 53075661939 John Deere Model B Tractor Serial # 61231Vintage John Deere Tractor Early Model D Edison MagnetoDelco Remy Upright Distributor Antique John Deere Tractor A B G 50 60 70 520 1930 John Deere General Purpose Tractor Catalogue (original)Lot John Deere Antique Tractor Engine Carburator Parts A,b,h,g,ar,dJohn Deere Tractor Model CarJohn Deere Antique Tractor L,la Engine Hand Crank John Deere Pinback......whitehead & Hoag Vintage Agriculture Farm Tractor Vintage 1930's John Deere Farm Tractor Labels X 5John Deere 420 430 Tractor Used Delco Starter Core 1107165 1698John Deere (2 Cylinder Club Expo Xiii-2003) Model "420"v Tractor (16101a)1965 John Deere "modern Farming" Tractor Farm Dealer Sales Brochure Combine Plow1962 John Deere No. 1-a Crane Brochure 1010 TractorVintage Farm 1949 Tractor John Deere Better Farming Equipment OriginalJohn Deere (2 Cylinder Club Expo Xiii-2003) Model "420"v Tractor (16101a)1946 John Deere G Antique Pulling TractorJohn Deere Tractor Sales Brochure 1934 D Gp Gpo A B Vintage RareFranklin Mint - 1957 Model John Deere Tractor Collector Knife- W/ Soft CaseTwo Cylinder Club John Deere Model Industrial 620 Standard Tractor With Box Two Cylinder Club John Deere Model A Tractor No Box 2000Two Cylinder Club John Deere Model Industrial 820 Diesel Tractor With Box John Deere 420 Tractor Lower Implement Brackets 1663John Deere 420 430 Tractor Left Hand 3 Point Arm 1657Jonh Deere 420 Tractor Used Manifold M3956t 1689Two Cylinder Club John Deere Model Industrial 720 Standard Tractor With Box Two Cylinder Club John Deere Model 520 High Clearance Sfw Tractor With Box 2002John Deere 420 430 Tractor Used Cam Shaft M3156t 17061937 John Deere Bo Br Tractor Original Used Serial Tag 327757 No Reserve! 816John Deere 1948 Model B Tractor Collector Pocket Knife Franklin Mint With Case

Recent News: John Deere Tractors

Source: Google News

Richard Nowak
Austin Herald, January 26th

Richard had many hobbies including snowmobiling, motorcycling, woodworking, vintage John Deere tractors, operating a custom service company for lawn and garden services, playing cards, photography, road trips, raising rose gardens, rock collecting, and ...Read more

Old Timers Run set for Feb. 7
Perham Focus, January 26th

“We get people converting any vehicle into a snowmobile — John Deere tractor… whatever,” said Holmes. Midnite Rider club members will be judging the sleds. When the ride begins at 10:30 a.m., the event swells from 300 to 500 vintage sleds to 800 to ...Read more

Tired Iron Club seeking info, photos on Prince County farm equipment dealers
Journal Pioneer, January 25th

That first John Deere that Rennie owned, a 430, is now part of his antique tractor collection. Rennie admits it took a while and some convincing to get it back. Ironically, it was people like Wendell Barbour, Erskine Clarke and countless other farm...Read more

Master Gardener: Do you have the right tools for the trade?
Huntsville Item, January 24th

The tools we used for clearing back then are the same tools we use to this day, large handled lopers,chainsaws, secateurs and our oversized wheelbarrow has been replaced with a John Deere Gator. ... Several of my gardening tools are antique. I have a ...Read more

Beat the winter blues by visiting Morocco's Antique Snowmobile Museum
Newsbug.info, January 21st

What started out as a hobby for Dan Blaney turned into Indiana's only antique snowmobile museum located behind his law office in Morocco. “I bought my first John Deere snowmobile in 1981 and I enjoyed messing around with it with my three daughters,” ...Read more

Small tractors are a big passion for collectors
Great Falls Tribune, January 19th

Decades have past, and tractors can still shut Larsen up, according to his friend and fellow antique toy collector Bruce Nelson. Together, Larsen and Nelson ... Careful detail work is the norm for replica Farmall and John Deere toys. The toy tractors...Read more

Antique collection stolen from Sandusky storage unit
Sandusky Register, January 11th

Police are asking the public for help in tracking down dozens of antique collectibles swiped from a Sandusky storage unit. In mid-November, a Sandusky man learned his entire collection of antique John Deere tractor toys had been stolen from his storage...Read more

Antique tractor show evokes nostalgia
Bowling Green Daily News, January 10th

He owns a 1950 A John Deere, a 1936 A John Deere and a 1937 D John Deere. He grew up on a dairy farm and now works as a welder and farms on the side as a hobby. The favorite among his tractors is his 1937 model. "It's an unrestored tractor," he said...Read more