Minneapolis-Moline UTS Gives Hope During Dark Days of War

A family heirloom Minneapolis-Moline UTS was a rare tractor available in England during World War II

1942 MM UTS

Ian Johnston's 1942 MM UTS, at the Ayrshire rally.

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This 1942 Minneapolis-Moline UTS is not so much a collectible as a family heirloom. Delivered to Scotland on Oct. 22,1942, it was a triumph of both American engineering and war-time victory in the Atlantic. Nearly 60 years later, Ian Johnston, Dumfrieshire, remembers the circumstances clearly. 

"You had to apply to the Department of Agriculture to get a tractor during the war, and it was necessary to get a special permit to get one with rubber tires. They told my father 'The only tractor coming across on rubber tires is a Minneapolis-Moline. Would you take that?' Well, in lease-lend, you just took what you could get. He jumped at the chance."

When the tractor arrived, Ian, then 12, got first shot at it.

"My father said 'Jump on to it, son, and you'll be the first to drive it.'"

The power of the Minneapolis-Moline UTS set it apart.

"My father needed it very badly," Ian recalled. "The Fordson was just too small to pull the load."

And the Minneapolis-Moline UTS got the job done in a hurry.

"The standard Fordson would go about 3-7 mph," said Ray Bailey, a MM collector from Wales. "Then this Minneapolis Moline comes along at 20 mph; it's passing buses going up hill. They were fliers!"

Rubber tires were a rarity in that era. Because of Japanese conquests in the Far East, rubber was scarce. "The biggest proportion of tractors at that time were on steel wheels," Ian recalled.

When the UTS was delivered, people came from all over just to see the tractor. It was a symbol of hope in a dark time.

"Very few made it across in those days," he said. Good care – it never spent a night outside – preserved the tractor's life.

"It was always reliable," Ian said. "It never refused to start. And people think those fenders are new, but they're absolutely original."

Ian and his son have completely restored the UTS ... twice. Their work – a labor of love, really – has earned the pair top honors at several rallies. FC