Made in Italy: CAST Tractors

Italian-made CAST tractors featured four-wheel drive to navigate hill country.

| December 2013

Last month we looked at the rare Bullock tractor. In this issue we’ll look at another rare, but more modern, machine. Many years ago I attended the Mad River Steam & Gas Show held at the Champaign County Fairgrounds in Urbana, Ohio. The first exhibit to catch my eye was a pair of squat and colorful four-wheel drive tractors owned by Carl Nawman of South Charleston, Ohio. One was painted yellow and white and the other turquoise and white, with both bearing the name “CAST” on their hoods.

Over the years I’ve found a couple of pieces of CAST sales literature, one of which tells me: “Italy is the home of beautiful bodies, such as those of Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Ferrari ... and the fabulous CAST, the superb tractor.”

As anyone who has visited the Mediterranean area knows, vineyards and olive groves are established on some pretty hilly terrain while flatter fields are used for other crops. To safely negotiate those steep hills, the CAST tractor’s four-wheel steering and drive and its low center of gravity were ideal.

Trattori builder

In 1919, Cesare Donati and Carlo Regazzoni established a company called Officine di Casaralta (Workshops of Casaralta) in Bologna, Italy, to repair railway freight wagons and passenger cars. During the worldwide depression of the 1930s, the failing company’s assets were acquired by an agency of the Mussolini government, saved from bankruptcy and put to work helping “make the trains run on time.”

After World War II, the Casaralta firm was kept busy repairing the wrecked Italian railroads, but work dried up when the job was finished and again the company went bust. Reorganized in 1955 to manufacture new railway rolling stock, electric locomotives and signaling equipment, Casaralta built the streamlined E.404 locomotive for the ETR, Italy’s fastest train.

Although I can find no mention of tractors in the company history, CAST tractors were built in Bologna by a company called CAST S.p.A., which was apparently an offshoot of the Casaralta firm with the name CAST derived from the first letters of the parent firm and “T” for “trattori,” the Italian word for tractors.

12/15/2013 12:57:38 AM

Thank you for the article by Sam Moore on Italian CAST tractors. Very interesting.