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May 23, 2019

1916 – This Tractor Claimed To Be A “Ford”

This circa 1916 silent film was produced by The Ford Tractor Company to promote and drum up pre-orders for their tractor.

This Ford Tractor was not built by the Ford Motor Company, known for building the Fordson Tractor. This tractor was the brainchild of William Baer Ewing who seeked to profit off the Ford Name. In 1914, Ewing purchased a tractor design from the Lion Tractor Company and went about to find someone with the last name of Ford.

He found Paul B. Ford whom he paid and made director of the Ford Tractor Company in exchange for the use of his name. In 1915, The Ford Tractor Company of Minneapolis was established. The Company claimed: “Mr. Paul B. Ford, inventor and designer of the Ford Tractor, has devoted years of his life to its study.” In reality, Ford knew nothing about the tractor or it’s design.

Henry Ford tried to stop Ewing from putting out his Ford tractor, but was unsuccessful. Henry Ford & Sons instead named their tractor the Fordson, since Ewing took the Ford name.

In 1916 you could buy the Ford tractor for $350 US dollars (about $8,471 US dollars in 2019) which was fully equipped with magneto, carburetor, governor and coil. The company claimed it could do the work of six to eight horses and cost less than a good team.

Over the coming months Ewing’s scheme unraveled. Farmers started demanding their promised tractors which had never shipped and shareholders wanted a return on their investment. It’s unclear how many Ford tractors were actually built, but probably fewer than 100, a far cry from thousands the company claimed. In the end the company went bankrupt by 1918. A few of these Ford tractors are still known to exist. One example can be seen at the JUMP Museum in Boise, ID which was owned by the late J. R. Simplot.

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