One of a Kind: Minneapolis-Moline UDLX

The Minneapolis-Moline UDLX Comfortractor was marketed to younger people to help keep them on the farm, but farmers never truly embraced it.

| September 2018

  • Minneapolis-Moline UDLX tractor
    This handsomely restored Minneapolis-Moline UDLX sold for $200,000 at the Mecum Auctions "Gone Farmin'" sale in Michigan in 2016.
    Photo courtesy Mecum Auctions
  • Minneapolis-Moline UDLX tractor
    The Minneapolis-Moline UDLX Comfortractor stands in a class by itself.
    Photo courtesy Mecum Auctions
  • Minneapolis-Moline UDLX tractor
    "As a tractor, (the UDLX) performed nearly as well as the U model, which itself proved exceptional," wrote Daniel Strohl in a 2005 article in Hemmings Classic Car. "It was a really good three-plow tractor, and most tractors of that day were two-plow."
    Photo courtesy Mecum Auctions
  • Minneapolis-Moline UDLX tractor
    The Comfortractor featured a shift-on-the-fly five-speed transmission and a foot throttle.
    Photo courtesy Mecum Auctions
  • Minnie Moline
    Never mind the wholesome young girl in overalls or words of wisdom from "Minnie Moline" — "Take your choice. Get the MM Special with or without cab, but better get your order in early. First come, first served" — farmers gave the UDLX the cold shoulder.
    Image courtesy Dennis McGrew

  • Minneapolis-Moline UDLX tractor
  • Minneapolis-Moline UDLX tractor
  • Minneapolis-Moline UDLX tractor
  • Minneapolis-Moline UDLX tractor
  • Minnie Moline

Considered by many to be the holy grail of tractor collecting, the Minneapolis-Moline UDLX is one of the most sought-after collectable tractors of all time. The best estimates are that 150 were made by Minneapolis-Moline between 1938 and 1941. Very few were delivered to actual farmers who, as company advertising suggested, could work them in their fields by day and drive them to town in the evening.

The marketing strategy predicted the UDLX Comfortractor would appeal to young people and help to keep them on the farm, but the tractor's unique design fell flat and was never accepted by farmers of any age. Most of those sold were driven by custom threshermen able to scoot between jobs, towing the thresher at 40 mph. Stories recount Minneapolis-Moline zone managers driving Comfortractors when they visited dealerships, but that appears to have been a rare event, indeed.

Leader in innovation

Minneapolis-Moline tractors were immediately recognizable by their Prairie Gold color. They helped break the prairies at the dawn of the 20th century and were a factor in moving farming toward mechanization into the 1960s. M-M, as the company was known, began operations in 1929 with the merger of three firms: Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co., Moline Plow Co. and Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Co.

As Minneapolis-Moline, the company was also known for innovation: M-M produced the first tractor with a selfstarter, was the first to use LPG fuel, built the first articulated tractor and, with the UDLX, produced the first enclosed factory cab.



The UDLX (or U-Deluxe) Comfortractor was a version of the M-M Model U Series tractors, their "top of the line" four-plow tractor: the UTU – row crop; UTS – standard-tread; UDLX – Comfortractor; UDOPN – roadster; UTIL – industrial (with a shuttle shift), and the UB – an improved U.

As with others of the U Series, power for the Model UDLX came from an overhead-valve, 4-cylinder high-compression 283.7-cubic-inch engine (4-1/4in x 5in bore and stroke). It produced 41-1/2 belt hp and 37.8 drawbar hp at 1,275 rpm; 1,785 rpm was available for road travel. The UDLX weighed about 6,400 pounds. Rear tires were 34 x 8, fronts were 6.00- 16. A total of 21-1/2 gallons of gasoline was available from the tank, plus a 2-1/2-gallon reserve.