Dream of Owning International Harvester Cub Cadet Becomes Reality

Minnesota man holds on to boyhood dream of owning an International Harvester Cub Cadet.


| February 2014



Steel Wheeled Cub Cadet

Loren’s steel-wheeled Cub “Original” — a one-of-a-kind modification — is his favorite so far.

Photo by Loren Ritter

Boyhood dreams don’t always become reality. But rural Minnesota-born and -raised Loren Ritter is the happy exception to that rule. He was so young when International Harvester Cub Cadets first captured his imagination that he cannot today remember his exact age at that time. His fascination with these early lawn and garden vehicles goes back to the 1960s, when Cub Cadets were a key feature in IH showrooms.

“Growing up on the farm, my twin sister and my brother and I made weekly trips to Freeport, Minn., with Dad when he delivered oats and corn to a feed mill so they could grind it and deliver it back to us,” Loren says. “When we stopped at the IH dealer, I couldn’t resist sitting on the seat of one of the Cub Cadets. It really caught my attention. I never forgot that experience.”

Building a collection

Years passed before Loren — who lives in Pequot Lakes, Minn. — could make his dreams of owning an International Harvester Cub Cadet a reality. In 2000 he learned that a co-worker had replaced his 1964 Cub Cadet Model 70 with a new lawn mower. The well-used but still running Cub Cadet was for sale. “That was the first Cub Cadet I restored,” Loren says. “After that I really got the bug to find more.” Then came a 1968 Cub Cadet Model 124. The unit had engine problems, but its owner wasn’t interested in repairing it. Loren was happy to add it to his growing collection.

Later, he found a 1966 Model 122. Loren added it — and a Brinly plow — to his collection. Today he uses the 122 at a spring plowing event in Little Falls, Minn. “You don’t see many events where the Cub Cadets plow,” he says. “We usually draw a nice crowd.”

A one-of-a-kind Original

Three of Loren’s Cub Cadets were in rough shape when he got them, so he buckled down and went to work, rebuilding engines on each. A fourth unit got special treatment. “I modified my first Cub Cadet when I put steel wheels on my 1962 ‘Original,’” he says. (The line’s first release, built from 1961-’63 had no model designation and is now referred to within the hobby as “the Original.”) “I noticed at Cub Cadet shows that so many of the models look exactly the same. Most have rubber tires. Some of them have decks on them. But I wanted to do something original with mine. Adding the steel wheels made my Cub Cadet Original look like a turn-of-the-century piece. It gets a lot of attention.”

To make the modification, Loren measured his Original’s wheels and began searching for steel wheels that would fit. He found the perfect match at the Le Sueur, Minn., swap meet. “One of the vendors there had hundreds of old steel wheels at his scrap yard,” he says. “I visited the yard and walked around until I found the right size. I had to adapt them a little to make them fit. I added cleats so when I use the tractor it won’t just sit and spin. The change gave the model an interesting old-fashioned look.