Versatile a Leader in 4-Wheel-Drive Tractors

Versatile Mfg. Ltd. became a leader in 4-wheel-drive tractors with innovative design


| June 2011



This 1976 Versatile had just 1,600 hours on it when it was purchased

This 1976 Versatile had just 1,600 hours on it when it was purchased.

Famed as the first company to mass-produce an articulated 4-wheel-drive tractor, Versatile can be traced to 1947, when Peter Pakosh and Roy Robinson started Hydraulic Engineering Co., Toronto. Initially launched to produce small farm implements, the company relocated to a Winnipeg, Manitoba, suburb a few years later. In 1963, the company was renamed Versatile Mfg. Ltd.

Versatile’s first foray into the tractor market was with its 4-wheel-drive D100 tractor in 1966, a 100 hp tractor with a Ford 6-cylinder diesel engine. Without a cab, this model (and the Versatile C100) sold for less than $10,000 (roughly $69,970 today). About a hundred were sold. In 1967 three more models were introduced: the D118, G125 and D145 and the SP420 self-propelled combine.

In 1968 the SP400 self-propelled swather with hydrostatic drive was introduced followed two years later by the SP5000 hydrostatic combine.

Series 2 tractors were introduced in the 1970s, now called models 700, 800, 850 and 900, with horsepower, respectively, of 220, 250, 280 and 300. The Model 300 row crop tractor with live power take-off was next in line. As Versatile controlled 70 percent of the 4-wheel-drive tractor market, the company upgraded Series 2 and added models 750, 825 and 950.

In Ultimate Tractor Power, Vol. 2, author Peter D. Simpson writes, “Axles and transmissions were designed and built by Versatile for agricultural use, which made it withstand hard, aggressive wear and tear.”

He adds that the standard category three-point hitch could be adjusted to category two with the lift capacity of 2.67 tons. Dual wheels made the Versatile more adaptable to varying soil and weather conditions and gave it a more comfortable ride. Custom-built rubber-mounted cabs reduced noise. “This new range of tractors was very versatile indeed,” Simpson says.