The Next Generation of Red Tractors: The 40 and 60 Series

The new generation of IHC Red Tractors featured an all-new square look and unique technology.

| February 2014

Red Tractors 1958-2013 (Octane Press, 2013) is an authoritative and unparalleled look at the tractors built by International Harvester Company and Case IH. Author Lee Klancher leads a research team that has collected more than 380 pages and 700 images, documenting these beloved machines built in America and abroad. In this six-part series, Farm Collector shares the first chapter of Red Tractors, "1958-1959 The Hinsdale Connection". In this, the third part of the series, International Harvester Company introduces the next generation of farm machines, the 40 and 60 series tractors.

You can purchase this book from the Farm Collector store: Red Tractors 1958-2013.

In 1953, Mark Keeler became the head of the Agricultural Engineering Division for Harvester. One of the first things he did was to go on a fact-finding trip with product specialist M.O. Curvey. The two men visited several dealers to learn what they wanted to see in the next generation of International Harvester tractors. The answer from the first dealer they visited—Andy Anderson in Harvard, Illinois—was pretty straightforward: Anderson told them he wanted improved operator comfort and convenience.

After five years of hard work building IH’s next generation of new machines, Keeler and Curvey returned to Harvard in 1958 to offer the town a sneak preview of the new International Harvester tractor. Months before the official world introduction, Anderson removed the paper that shielded the tractor from prying eyes and drove it straight down Main Street in Harvard.

Harvester had planted cameramen from Harvester World magazine on the street and rooftops to catch the crowd’s reaction. The resulting article reported that one gentleman was so taken by the new tractor that he walked into a utility pole (the cameramen saved him embarrassment by not capturing that scene). Men and women gathered around to look the tractor over, to sit in the seat, and to start it up.

Comments focused on the comfortable new seat, the smooth new engine, and the revised control layout. The styling was improved, with redesigned lines avoiding the “Christmas tree” look of the previous models . Curvey admitted that there weren’t a lot of new pieces in the transmission (except for the relocated hydraulic pump), but the farmer who asked said that he had never heard of a farmer having problems with an IH transmission or differential anyway. Soon, the tractor was back on the truck, rewrapped in its paper disguise and on its way back into hiding until the new line’s official July 1958 introduction.