2012 - Volume #36, Issue #6, Page #23[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
One-Of-A-Kind Prototype Tractor Built By Henry Ford Himself
“Even though I’m not a farmer, I’ve taken this tractor to farm shows all across the country and the people I meet are just fabulous,” Cummings says. “It has been an amazing hobby for me.” One of Cummings’s favorite events to participate in is the antique tractor parade across the Mackinac Bridge, which takes place each September.
Cummings acquired the rare 1937 Ford, built by Henry Ford himself, in the early 1980’s and spent two years restoring it. “The tires were flat, the frame and cowling were rusted, and the motor wouldn’t turn over,” Cummings says. “When I took the motor apart, I was amazed to find that it had never been run because there was still chalk on the pistons.” Cummings had to use parts from three different motors to get it into working order and today he says the flathead V-8 still “purrs like a kitten”.
Cummings spent three years researching in museums and at the Ford Motor Company, looking for documents to substantiate that Henry Ford and Harry Ferguson had built the tractor. In the process he found that the overall design was patterned after a 1935 WC Allis, that the original motor had been replaced with a new one, the grill is from a 1935 1 1/2 ton truck, and that the steering wheel is from a Model A Ford car. The front wheels also came from a car.
Cummings says the tractor was never manufactured because Ferguson filed a lawsuit against Ford for stealing hydraulic system designs. Suits and countersuits lasted for 13 years, and finally the two parties agreed to disagree. The tractor, meanwhile, sat in a garage and was later moved outside at Ford’s farm where it spent several years rusting in an orchard.
“I’ve taken it to more than 100 shows and it’s been featured in books, on calendars, at Ford company events and on television,” Cummings says. Asked to place a value on the precious prototype, Cummings says only, “it’s priceless and it’s not for sale.” For several years, a collector gave him a blank check and told him to fill in the amount he wanted. “I never did because this is one of a kind and it can’t be replaced.” Cummings says.
Cummings has an equally rare Farmall Super C that has 9 ft. of ground clearance. He acquired the tractor from Florida, where it was used in sugar cane harvest. Cummings drives that tractor in parades and delights people with the rare sight of a porch swing mounted under the rear axle. “I’ll guarantee you there’s not another one like it,” Cummings says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dick Cummings, 48078 Van Dyke Ave., Shelby Township, Mich. 48317 (ph 248 722-4418; email@example.com).
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