Is Ford In the Tractor Business Anymore? [A rich history of Ford and New Holland Tractors]

Last Updated on April 3, 2022 by MABER SAL

The Ford Motor Co. was the first automotive industry to mass-produce tractors and agricultural machinery for the US market. The brains behind the concept of marrying machinery with the farm were none other than Henry Ford. Henry Ford drew inspiration from his childhood as he spent a junk of his early childhood on his father’s farm.

The experimental tractor was crafted in 1907, and Henry christened it his “Automobile plow.” This iconic tractor featured an engine and a copper water jacket. The tractor’s wheels were taken from a binder—Ford first mass-produced tractors under the Fordson brand.

Ever since Ford Tractors have changed ownership and management, most people have been confused about whether Ford is in the tractor business anymore.

In a nutshell, Ford no longer produces tractors. However, you can still find Ford tractors on sale. Ford bought the new Holland and produced tractors under the Ford New Holland brand, but it later sold the Company to Fiat in 1991.

How Did Ford Tractors Become Ford New Holland

How Did Ford Tractors Become Ford New Holland

It has been over three decades since the change of Ford tractor ownership, but to date, it is somehow complicated when searching for a Ford or New Holland tractor spare part. Figuring out the right spare for each tractor leads you to hear one name or another mentioned to refer to the part you may need. 

This confusion leads to the question, “Are Ford and New Holland the same?” Although the two names are spoken together regarding tractor spare parts, the two are not the same. While Ford produces reliable cars, New Holland manufactures tractors and other agricultural and construction equipment.

The Evolution of Ford’s Tractor Division

To better understand how ford tractors came into being and how the Company changed hands to the Fiat Company, let’s do some justice and relook at the history of the Ford tractor division and New Holland machinery.

The History of Ford’s Tractor Division

While the famous Model T car was in production, Ford also mass-produced gasoline-powered tractors. The first Model to grace the US market was the Fordson Model F in 1917. The F model dominated the market for ten years and was replaced with the N Model in 1927.

The Fordson tractors and ford automobiles operated as separate entities until 1964, before the two brands consolidated. In the 1960s, Ford produced Ford 2000, Ford 3000, Ford 4000, Ford 5000, and Ford 6000 tractor series that stayed in production until 1986 when Ford bought New Holland. 

Ford Tractors in 1907-1961

The Fordson tractor became the first of its kind to be mass-produced for the US market. The tractor was lightweight, and the Model sold at a considerably lower price than the competing models. 

The tractor’s name (Fordson) is derived from Ford and Son.

How Did Ford Tractors Manage Mass-Production in 1917

During the First World War, the British encountered a hanger due to the blockade by the enemy. The happenings prompted the British government to approach Mr. Henry Ford and request him to produce tractors in large quantities to counter food shortages.

Fordson tractors dominated the US market in the 1920s, commanding 75 percent of the United States built tractors. The Fordson tractors assisted in the growth of Ford Motor co. as they were versatile. Besides farming, the tractors were also used to haul lumber, bricks, coal, and many other materials. The tractors were also handy when switching loaded freight cars and removing snow from the sidewalks.

The Halting of Fordson Tractor Production in 1928

Despite the popularity of Fordson tractors in the 1920s, the Company halted its production in the United States in 1928. However, production was resurrected in 1939 when Ford Model 9N was produced.

After restarting production, Henry Ford fostered a working relationship with Mr. Harry Ferguson. As a result, the 9N was marketed and distributed by the Ferguson-Sherman Company. The collaboration kept ticking until 1946.

After the war, the production of the 9N Model was halted, and the relationship with Mr. Ferguson was severed.

Ford’s Golden Jubilee

Ford Motor Co. celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1953. The anniversary was marked with introducing the NAA model tractor, which was christened and marketed as the Golden Jubilee Model.

Another development took place in 1953. On 30th May of that year, the Ford Company announced the commencement of distribution of Ford tractors and other farming equipment on 1st August.

The Introduction of Model Classes- 600 and 800 Tractor Series

Ford never got tired of producing updated tractors for the market. In 1955, Ford came up with a new range of tractors in classes- 600 and 800 series. These two models were christened Ford’s row-crop tractors. The tractors were meant to handle front-mounted equipment with ease.

The History of the New Holland Machinery Company

The New Holland Machinery Company has a rich history. The Company was founded in 1895 in New Holland, Pennsylvania. Abe Zimmerman founded the Company. 

However, the Company changed ownership in 1947 when Sperry Rand Corporation acquired it and changed its name to Sperry New Holland.

When Sperry bought New Holland, they introduced a haybine mower-conditioner, and in 1975, the Company produced a twin-rotor combine and introduced it to the world for the first time.

The success at Sperry New Holland caught the eye of Ford Motor Company, which bought it in 1986. However, Ford didn’t last long in the tractor business as the Company sold controlling shares to Fiat in 1991.

 The Continuity of Ford Tractors Legacy

The Ford Motor Company ensured continuity to the Ford tractor legacy even after selling the tractor business to Fiat. The terms of sale stipulated that Fiat had a right to use the name “Ford New Holland” for ten years on their tractors.

Therefore, tractors were manufactured under Ford’s name from 1991 to 2001. However, no new tractors have been produced under Ford’s name from 2001 onwards.

Why Did Ford Sell Its Tractor Division to Fiat?

According to records, the Ford tractor business was thriving and had no serious competition in the United States. The good standing of the tractor business leads to a mind-boggling question, “Why did Ford sell the tractor division?”

The oil crisis of the 1980s rendered manufacturing difficult. Ford deemed it fit to sell its tractor division to cut down on production costs and losses to mitigate the situation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ford Tractors

Does Ford Still Produce Tractors?

No. Ford does not make tractors anymore. Ford sold its farm equipment group to Fiat Company in 1991, and Fiat embarked on phasing out the Ford name in 2001, after the expiry of the sell terms that compelled the Company to use the name for ten years. 

After the sale of the tractor division, New Holland (under Fiat Company) stunned the world with the First tractor featuring a hydrogen powering system in 2009. The NH2 tractor model generated its energy from renewable sources.

What Happened to Fordson Tractors Between 1928 and 1939?

Ford US halted the manufacture of Fordson tractors between 1928 and 1939. However, during this period, its Britain branch was still in business, and it crafted new variants that were widely exported.

Nonetheless, in 1939, Ford of the United States re-entered the tractor business with a new model under the Ford brand.

Generally, Ford Motor Co. enjoys a rich and long history of producing tractors and other farm machinery. This history forms part of Ford’s legacy and heritage even though the Company is no longer active in the tractor business.

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