The History of Farmall Tractors: 1940-1954

Learn how Farmall’s expansion into construction equipment developed alongside the manufacture of quality trucks and farm equipment.

| December 2015

Discover the complete history of Farmall, from the early days of McCormick and Deering to the latest models, in Farmall (Voyageur Press, 2015) by Randy Leffingwell and Robert N. Pripps. The following excerpt discusses how IHC decided to expand their market beyond farm equipment and trucks.

You can buy this book from the GRIT store: Farmall.

1945-1954: As Focus Changes, Vision for the Future Blurs

World War II engaged McCormick’s imagination. Through the diversity of wartime products IHC manufactured, McCormick came to believe his corporation no longer needed to be strictly a farm equipment and truck maker. With nearly 100,000 workers in seventeen plants, sales increased more than $100 million each year (about $1.3 billion today) during the war. McCormick had money to expand product lines and to buy new factories to build them.

The Tractor Division staked its share of development money on a compact machine meant for the small two- or three-horse farm. Here the Naming Committee broke form. The letter-series Farmalls beginning in 1939 with the Model M reached Model Es in the early 1940s (with jumps to H and A). In various meetings, everyone referred to this new prototype as the Farmall X or the F. Now, in September 1945, public relations man Art Seyfarth, patent attorney Paul Pippel, engineer Sperry, and the five other committee members named it the Cub. IHC’s Sales Department aimed 45 percent of total Cub production at the east and southeast.

Production began in Louisville, Kentucky, late in 1947. Nearly 135,000 rolled out over the next four years. Half the purchasers were first-time tractor buyers replacing horses or mules on farms where the Cub was the only tractor. In 1945 30 percent of the United States, about 1.6 million farms, still used only draft animals. Cotton, tobacco, poultry, and vegetable-truck farmers favored the Cubs, as did people who farmed part-time or maintained large gardens. The largest proportion was farms of 10 to 19 acres.

At the other end of the size spectrum, McCormick’s perceptive but forceful friend, McCaffrey, IHC’s vice president, found a growth industry in construction. To reward his work and ideas, IHC’s board elected McCaffrey president and chief operating officer in 1946.

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