Four Post-World War II Garden Tractors

Examine the history of the farm machinery manufacturers — the companies making equipment that make large gardens and small farms work.

| January 2013

  • Cub tractor
    The Farmall Cub is easy to haul and much less a handful than many other vintage tractors, so it is a favorite at plow days and other events around the country. Easy as it is to handle, the Cub was too expensive to be considered for general suburban use in the 1950s.
    Photo Courtesy Voyageur Press
  • Farmall Cub
    International’s Farmall Cub is one of the most highly collected farm tractors today. This 1952 model was refurbished in 2005 and hasn’t seen a lick of work since.
    Photo Courtesy Voyageur Press
  • Allis-Chambers G
    The Allis-Chalmers G made a better garden tractor than it did an estate machine. The G is still used by small food farmers all over the country, and many have been repowered with everything from Kubota diesel engines to battery packs and electric motors.
    Photo Courtesy Voyageur Press
  • John Deere Model LA
    Although they were perfect for working on small farms and in gardens, John Deere’s Models L and LA (shown here) were never terribly popular in suburban yards, in spite of their diminutive size.
    Photo Courtesy Voyageur Press
  • Garden-All’s Gard’n Mast’r
     In the early 1950s, Garden-All’s Gard’n Mast’r could be equipped with all manner of attachments, including the belly-mounted sickle bar mower shown here.
    Photo Courtesy Voyageur Press
  • Massey-Harris Pony
    The Massey-Harris Pony was designed with the small farmer in mind and surely made its way to hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller vegetable or tobacco patches around the world. Though every bit as useful as the Farmall Cub and Allis-Chalmers G, the little Massey was never found very far from the farm.
    Photo Courtesy Voyageur Press

  • Cub tractor
  • Farmall Cub
  • Allis-Chambers G
  • John Deere Model LA
  • Garden-All’s Gard’n Mast’r
  • Massey-Harris Pony

Garden tractors have come a long way. And as anyone who has acquired a few acres knows, these are the machines that do the work: the tilling and mowing and pulling and plowing that make a small farm or a vast garden grow. The illustrated history in Garden Tractors: Deere, Cub Cadet, and All the Rest (Voyageur Press, 2008) features the brands that have endeared themselves to landowners everywhere — the Cub Cadets and John Deeres, Simplicitys and Fords, Ariens and Kubotas that, in their can-do engineering, dependability and bright good looks, are more than mere machines around the yard and small farm. In this excerpt, read more about the history of the Allis-Chalmers Model G, International Harvester Cub, John Deere Model L and Massey-Harris Pony. 

Farm Tractor Manufacturers

It would be incorrect to suggest that only the tiny single-bottom plow tractors built by farm machinery manufacturers shortly after the war ever made it into the suburban garden or mowed suburban lawns. Many larger machines lived out their lives with such relatively light duty, but the few discussed in more detail below were particularly suited to working in larger gardens. 

Allis-Chalmers Model G

The Model G, which was built from 1948 through 1955, might well be the most recognizable tractor out there.

It was originally designed for small farms, nurseries, truck gardeners, and others with the need for a precision planting and cultivating machine. It also had excellent capabilities as an all-around acreage tractor. Early marketing materials suggested that the Model G and its implements at the most offered everything some farms required by way of machinery and at the least had something that every farm required.



What really set the G apart from other tractors of its day was that the engine was mounted behind the rear axle and the remaining tubular frame offered unprecedented visibility for the operator. The little tractor weighed in at around 1,200 pounds and offered about 9 drawbar horsepower and 10.33 horsepower at the PTO.

Since Allis-Chalmers didn’t make an engine small enough for the tractor, it sourced a four-cylinder 62-cubic-inch gasoline mill from Continental. This so-called N-62 engine was used by many machinery makers and proved itself again and again over the years.