BETWEEN THE BOOKENDS

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A restored Minneapolis steam traction engine built in 1921. Only 71 of these engines

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An Informative, Well-Researched Look Back at Minneapolis-Moline Farm Tractors

One of the most interesting developments came in 1938, with the introduction of the colorful gold UDLX Comfortractor (featured on the book's front cover). However, MM produced only 150 of these car/tractor vehicles. The UDLX's transmission allowed for speeds up to 40 mph and, with its optional cab, the vehicle could serve as a car. This was not your ordinary tractor. It included a Philco radio, windshield defroster, wipers, cigarette lighter, dash lights and much more. But it proved too costly for farmers and was succeeded by an industrial model, which had some success when cities bought it equipped with snowplows for street snow removal.

One chapter is devoted to the merger of B.F. Avery and Sons Co. and MM in March 1951. MM became the surviving company. The venture quickly became a casualty of war-more specifically the Korean War. Beemer relates how government-imposed limitations on manufacturing materials and production would 'render MM's acquisition of Avery not only useless, but detrimental.' Sadly, MM had to dispose of the Avery plant after sustaining three straight years of losses. Established in 1825, B.F. Avery & Sons was one of the nation's oldest agricultural equipment companies at the time.

A decade later, management, interested in branching out of the agricultural market, changed the company's name from Minneapolis-Moline Company to Motec Industries, Inc. Motec consisted of several divisions, including Minneapolis-Moline Farm Machinery.

In 1963, White Motor Corporation bought Motec Industries and White's influence on MM's tractors was felt almost immediately. White replaced MM's 4 Star tractors with the Model U302, introduced in 1964. Then in 1966, the U302 was upgraded to the Super model. Beemer writes that this gave the MM lineup a row-crop tractor with full four-plow power.

The final chapter highlights the stylish G350 and G450 models, MM's A4T-1600 articulated four-wheel drive tractor (with power ranging from 169 to 225 horsepower) and the last two MM models, the G955 and G1355. White's management was integrating the Oliver and MM lines into a hybrid tractor with components from both lines. But between 1973 and 1974, Oliver's influence overshadowed MM and by the end of 1974, the MM line no longer existed.

MM enthusiasts should enjoy viewing the many colorful photographs of the Prairie Gold tractors in addition to learning more about MM's impressive line of tractors over a span of 40 years. Collectors will also find the appendix of serial numbers very helpful.

Beemer and Peterson point out that, due to sales and mergers, many of MM's valuable records were lost or destroyed. Even so, they have given the reader a very good understanding of how MM and its tractors evolved over the years. The authors also believe that more information exists and welcome 'any and all input that will correct or augment this work.'

Minneapolis-Moline Farm Tractors, text by Rod Beemer, photography by Chester Peterson Jr., Motorbooks International, ISBN 0-7603-0625-7; hardcover, 128 pages, $24.95; available from MBI Publishing Co., 729 Prospect Ave., P.O. Box 1, Osceola, WI 54020-0001 (800) 826-6600, www.motorbooks.com.

Lynn Grooms is an independent writer based in Middleton, Wis. She's a frequent contributor to Ag Retailer and Seed & Crops Digest, and her articles have been featured in several agricultural publications. Voyageur Press recently published Grooms' book, Vintage Allis-Chalmers Tractors (with photography by Chester Peterson).