IHC and McCormick-Deering: The Red Tractors of France

IHC had a proud history in France, dating back to Cyrus Hall McCormick's European tours in the 1850s.

Farmall Cub

This Farmall Cub was assembled in 1955 at the IH plant in Saint-Dizier, is badged CIMA, and uses a Solex carburetor, which gave it 1.25 more horsepower than the American version. The French Cub was built from 1955 to 1957, when it was replaced with the French Farmall Super Cub produced until 1964.

Photo by Lee Klancher

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Red Tractors 1958-2013 (Octane Press, 2013) is an authoritative and unparalleled look at the tractors built by International Harvester Company and Case IH. Author Lee Klancher leads a research team that has collected more than 380 pages and 700 images, documenting these beloved machines built in America and abroad. In this multi-part series, Farm Collector shares the first chapter of Red Tractor, "1958-1959 The Hinsdale Connection". This excerpt comes from Jean Cointe, an expert in IHC’s entry into the French market, and the successes of McCormick-Deering.

You can purchase this book from the Farm Collector store: Red Tractors 1958-2013.

Cyrus Hall McCormick had a long history of traveling to Europe to demonstrate his company wares. He had great success in Paris at the 1855 Universal Exhibition, where he won a gold medal facing seven competitors in the Trappe farm field show. In 1867, the McCormick reaper won the grand prix of the Universal Exhibition. Later, the French awarded him the prestigious honors of chevalier (1868), then officer of the Légion d’honneur (1878).

McCormick constantly increased his company’s sales in France with the help of two French businessmen, Wallut and Faul. After International Harvester Company formed in 1902, the French branch known as Compagnie Internationale des Machines Agricoles (CIMA) was incorporated in 1906 and dedicated mainly to the Deering and Osborne brands. Wallut distributed IHC products under the McCormick name, while the Faul family company distributed the Deering brand until 1911.

In 1934, CIMA and Wallut merged, with the new company managing the entire business of IHC in France and continuing to operate two networks that sold Deering and McCormick products. In 1939, CIMA-WALLUT reached the top of the farm implement industry in France, employing more than 5,000 people. In 1948 CIMA-WALLUT merged with the McCormick and Deering networks and sold its products under the McCormick-Deering brand, dropping the WALLUT name.

In 1950, CIMA purchased a large farm implement factory at Saint-Dizier in the east of France. The facility was equipped and modernized, partly with U.S. dollars provided by the postwar Marshall Plan in 1949. Farmall C assembly started there in 1951, with all the components probably being shipped from the IHC Louisville Works.

Early in 1952 the Farmall Super FC rolled off the factory’s assembly lines. This tractor was fitted with an American-built C-123 engine while the rest of the components were French-made. The diesel-powered Farmall FCN was introduced later that year.

In 1953, the French company was given full industrial independence: gasoline and diesel engines came to be entirely built at the factory. The Super FCC (carbureted) and Super FCD (diesel) tractors were available in three different tread widths: the Farmall tricycle, the standard-tread utility, and the narrow-tread vineyard.

The first Farmall Cub tractor assembled in France rolled off the factory assembly lines at Saint-Dizier in 1956, followed a few years later by the first French-built Farmall Super Cub.

In 1957, the Saint-Dizier factory presented the new 235 line, available in the Farmall, utility, and vineyard versions. Those models were improved versions of the FC line, the most substantial difference being a modern hydraulic lift with a new design known as the Modulor.

In 1958 the new French Farmall F 335 D, a direct offspring of the American 350D, was unveiled. Its new features, such as the Torque Amplifier and a power takeoff with a multidisc hydraulic clutch, were still unheard of in France. The engine of the Farmall 350D—a Continental G-193—was replaced in Europe by a diesel Hispano-Suiza engine. But as the social and political climate in France deteriorated early in 1958, IHC canceled the project.

On September 10, 1958, a new line of tractors was unveiled to the company’s executives; the F 245 series became the F 265 series a few months later. Also in 1958, the Farmall 135 D was introduced and became a bestseller in its class, upgraded with the F 137 D model and produced until the end of 1964. FC

Read more from Red Tractors 1958-2013 in:

• International Harvester Company Reveals Return of the Large Tractor at Burr Ridge Farm
• International 460 Ushers in New Era for International Harvester Company
• The Next Generation of Red Tractors: The 40 and 60 Series
• The International 460 and the Evolution of Red Tractors
• The Farmall M and the Red Tractors of Great Britain
• International Harvester Invests in Germany       
Red Tractors Down Under: International Harvester Company of Australia

Reprinted with permission from Red Tractors 1958-2013: The Authoritative Guide to International Harvester and Case-IH Farm Tractors in the Modern Era by Lee Klancher and published by Octane Press, 2013. Buy the book from our store: Red Tractors 1958-2013.