Streamlined Tractors: A Modern Look
Modern, streamlined tractors began appearing in the late 1930s and featured radiator grilles and engine side covers.
The author's just-completed 1946 MM ZTS.
Photo By Sam Moore
By the late 1930s, most farm tractors began to emulate the cars of the day, taking on a streamlined appearance with compound curved fenders, sculpted hoods, cast or sheet metal grilles and sometimes even engine side covers.
Oliver Corp. was one of the first to make the change with the sleek and modern-looking 1935 Model 70 Row-Crop. The 1934 Massey-Harris 25 and its 1936 Pacemaker had radiator grilles, as did the 1936 Silver King, and in 1937 the Huber B with its rounded nose was introduced. Allis-Chalmers announced its streamlined tractor, the Model B, in 1938 and Avery came out with its unique “Rfo-Trak” model. Also in 1938, John Deere unveiled the new A and B models created by renowned industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss. The sleek Graham-Bradley sold by Sears was announced, and Massey-Harris demonstrated its streamlined “Twin-Power” Challenger and Pacemaker series.
The year 1939 brought many additional streamlined tractors, including the Allis-Chalmers C, RC and WC; Case DC; John Deere L, H and D; Massey-Harris 101 and Farmall A, B, H and M models. The Ford-Ferguson was introduced and Oliver Corp. brought out the 60 Row-Crop. J.I. Case announced the VC, S and LA models in 1940 and IHC unveiled its O4 and O6 orchard tractors along with the W-series standard-tread machines.
Minneapolis-Moline was among the early entries in the streamlined tractor field with the “Visionlined” Universal Model Z in 1937, joined by Models R, U and G two years later, and the firm seems to have been the first tractor manufacturer to use comely young ladies (fully clothed, of course) in its advertising. Pretty girls draped over the hoods and flowing fenders of automobiles had long been a staple of car advertisements and car shows, but advertising agencies for tractor and truck companies didn’t pitch these “manly” items to the fairer sex. Of course it can be argued that the pretty girls weren’t meant to attract women buyers at all and that’s undoubtedly correct.
Streamlined tractors with purpose
Minneapolis-Moline Power Implement Co. was formed in 1929 from three struggling firms: Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co., Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Co. and Moline Plow Co. Shortly after, the 1930 MM Yearbook carried an illustration of a pretty girl wearing high heels and a form-fitting red dress, waving her handkerchief to a man in a field on a Twin City tractor. I’m not sure just when the firm dubbed this gal “Miss Minnie Moline,” but before long that young lady, dressed in various costumes, graced many of the company’s color ads.
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