Short-Lived Tractors with Odd or Unique Names

Peculiar pre-1920 tractor names were result of fierce competition and desire to stand out

| May 2001

  • Coleman Worm-Drive
    Coleman Worm-Drive tractor.
  • "Little Oak" tractor.
  • The Earthworm tractor
    The Earthworm tractor, the fictional embodiment of Caterpillar in the stories by William Hazlett Upson and adapted to film in the 1930s.
  • Creeping Grip tractor
    Creeping Grip tractor.
  • Square-Turn tractor
    The Square-Turn tractor.
  • Webfoot 20-40
    The Webfoot 20-40.
  • Kansas City Hay Press Co
    Kansas City Hay Press Co. in 1917.

  • Coleman Worm-Drive
  • The Earthworm tractor
  • Creeping Grip tractor
  • Square-Turn tractor
  • Webfoot 20-40
  • Kansas City Hay Press Co

Step right up, lay-dees and gennamen, and see the brand-new Burn-Oil tractor!

Not to your fancy? Then how about the Angleworm 10? No? Then maybe the Rigid-Rail is the answer to your farm-work dreams? Or the Webfoot 53?

Perhaps the names of some of today’s modern tractors will be viewed in the future with amusement; but for peculiar and odd names of tractors, nothing beats gazing at the monikers hung on tractors of the past, like those real-life names of tractors listed in the first paragraph. Why were these names – and dozens of others just as odd – chosen? What were their public relations people thinking?

Mainly they were thinking of a way to get their product known, no different than today. Or maybe – most likely – the companies were so small they didn’t have PR people, and didn’t take as much time as they should have to think of the consequences of the names they chose. Most of these odd and unusual names were created prior to 1920, when competition for selling tractors was fierce as hundreds of tractor companies tried to elbow aside other companies one way or another. One of those ways was to create a unique, perhaps not-thought-out, name, many of which sound odd to the modern ear.

The Angleworm tractor

Perhaps one of the worst-named tractors ever was the Angleworm 10, made (and named badly, one might say) by Badley Tractor Co. of Portland, Ore., in 1936. It was a small tracked tractor weighing 2,600 pounds, and sitting only 37 inches high. It disappeared the same year it was introduced.



The Webfoot tractor

Or how about the Webfoot tractor, made by Blewett Tractor Co. of Tacoma, Wash., from 1920-1923. One might say they “blew it” with the name. The Webfoot was a half-track type of tractor, an appropriate name in the sense that only about half of the concept of “webfoot” works, the part indicating that the track spreads widely over the ground.

Unfortunately, the tractor’s aquatic name was not the only thing working against its success. This tractor sold for $5,000 at a time when the farm market was going into depression, and other tractor companies were cutting prices.



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