The Tough International Harvester Cub Cadet Compact Garden Tractor
International Harvester Cub Cadet compact garden tractors were built to last.
Ted Delooza, of Penn Yan, N.Y., on the 1970 Cub Cadet Model 106 he restored to use at plow days and for show. Note the raised panel stamped into the hood, and the one-piece fender/footrest that actually extends to both sides of the tractor. Tim’s tractor has the optional headlights, a rear three-point hitch, Brinly sleeve hitch adapter, rear PTO and two-speed creeper transmission. The front weight bracket and weights were custom-made by Tim. The rear wheel weights aren’t original Cub Cadet equipment.
—Cub Cadet implements and attachments
—Further reading and research
An obvious standout at its debut in 1961, the International Harvester Cub Cadet compact tractor is still a popular and versatile lawn and garden tractor nearly 45 years later.
These tough "titans of the turf" were the result of less than two years of intensive development and filled a significant gap in the lawn and garden equipment market. Equipped with a farm tractor transmission, differential and Kohler-made engines, the machines were clearly built to last and hold a special place in the hearts of many equipment collectors and tractor collectors.
Cub Cadet garden tractors were expensive at the time ... but they were inexpensive over time. In the original advertising campaign, IH noted that the Cub Cadet was the "most advanced compact tractor of its day."
No doubt that was true, but they remain popular to this day — thousands are still in daily service and even more are preserved in private collections.
Birth of an American original
By late 1958, IH executives recognized a potential market for a small, four wheel tractor equipped with an air cooled engine. The largely suburban post-war market demanded a multi-purpose tractor that was capable of easing lawn and garden chores year round. While the Farmall Cub was considered an ideal choice to fill the niche, the popular farm tractor was far more expensive than the $500 price that successfully sold other garden tractor brands.
As a result, by mid-1959, IH designers envisioned the Cub Cadet garden tractor as the "Cubette." The tractor would sport a 7 hp Kohler engine, an off-center disc clutch, all-gear transmission and differential borrowed from the Farmall Cub, as well as cam and follower steering. In early 1960, IH engineers completed designs for a high-quality machine that could withstand the rigors of heavy use and ground-engaging implements.
By June 1960, three experimental Cubette tractors were built and tested exhaustively. The engineers concluded that these Cubettes performed as well as or better than the competitive models in all tests, and moved forward with the project.
Encouraged by early tests, IH built 10 prototypes in October 1960. Six of these tractors were placed in the hands of potential customers for testing, two were used for implement development, one was used for owner and service manual production and the last was used for photographs to generate marketing materials.
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