In 1917, tractors built by Henry Ford were named Fordsons because another Ford tractor (manufactured in Minneapolis) already existed (see The Fraudulent Ford Model B). However, the Ford Tractor Co. sought to trade on Henry Ford’s name. A 1915 newspaper article minced no words on the character of W. Baer Ewing, one of the owners of the Minneapolis Ford organization: “The next exploitation taken up by Ewing and the Federal Securities Co. was the Ford Tractor Co. There seems to be a sort of magic in the name of Ford when it comes to doing business with the farmer, and Ewing prepared to take advantage of this fact by taking a young fellow named Paul B. Ford into the concern and naming it the Ford Tractor Co. The direct statement is not made that there is any connection between the Minneapolis company and the Ford Motor Co. of Detroit, but that impression is given by the character of advertising sent out by the company.”
Paul Ford knew nothing of tractors. When questioned, he said he was a mere figurehead, employed so Ewing could use the Ford name. Though Ewing claimed Ford designed the tractor, a man named Kincaid actually had. Apparently the company knew nothing of business. As an article in the Twin City Reporter observed, “Everything is in large figures except the cash on hand and in bank.”
And the number of tractors made. Despite claims that the factory was operating day and night, fewer than a hundred Fords were manufactured from 1915-1918. When the company went bankrupt, many farmers who’d ordered Fords and paid in advance were left in the lurch.
To read about real Henry Ford tractors, visit Fordson Model F Crawler Worth the Wait.