First Things

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Nancy Smith

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As I write this in late April, the corn is already up around here, and the pastures have turned the lush emerald green that briefly visits Kansas each spring. A sense of opportunity hangs in the air as you collectors begin plotting your next tractor acquisitions and your next restoration projects. With Father's Day around the corner, maybe some of you will get lucky.

By sheer coincidence, this issue contains two stories on German-made tractors -the Porsche and the Holder. Rare collectibles today, they first appeared here as new-made machines in the 1940s and '50s, marketed to compete with American-made counterparts in the post-war heydey of commerce. Many people may think that such companies as New Holland or Kubota are the innovators in that regard; vintage tractor collectors know better.

One characteristic that fits both these German brands is the high quality of their mechanical construction, enhancing their collectibility and proving again that a tractor's working parts come first, whether the machine is in top-notch shape or in a heap. And therein lies the charm of a pile of old iron of

any brand: Can you make it run again? I once knew a man capable of making anything run in the way of old farm machines. He was born in 1910 and grew up on dirt farms in Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado. He worked in the fields with four brothers and their father, learning too well what 'scratching a living out of the soil' meant.

With a gift for handling horses and a mechanical mind, he straddled both worlds comfortably in his youth, and then he went off to war. After four years in Europe, he never lived on the farm again, but he never left it in his heart. Through the years, with horses passe on the farms and most of the vintage equipment in the fencerows, he kept a few ponies and quietly squirreled away small iron treasures, carefully oiled and wrapped in old, red shop rags. He didn't have an opportunity to pass on his knowledge of farm machinery, but if he were alive today, he sure would. Happy Father's Day, guys!