Jack Baruth’s recent piece at The Truth About Carson his dust-up with Porsche’s PR department sent me back to my photo album to find the one Porsche model that I might want to own. I spotted it last year at Mecum’s Gone Farmin’ tractor auction in Walworth, Wis., nestled between two vintage Ford tractors. It was – WTF! – a Porsche tractor?
Full disclosure: I am not a Porsche fan. (I’m not a Corvette fan, either, and mostly for the same reasons.) Obviously there are some Porscheophiles out there (such as Mr. Baruth) who have the skills necessary to drive them the way they were meant to be driven and can truly appreciate their capabilities, but for most owners the cars are little more than very expensive jewelry, conspicuous bling to let the world know just how well-off they are. (Check out wreckedexotics.com to see Porsches that were sold to such people.)
No one ever bought a Porsche tractor as jewelry.
According to porschetractors.com, Dr. Porsche began development of a tractor in 1934 when his company produced three prototypes, all powered by gasoline engines. (The company had been working up a series of small diesel engines but none were ready for production in 1934.) Every Porsche tractor ever built, including the prototypes, sported a hydraulic coupling between the engine and transmission so they could be shifted without using a clutch.
Porsche had not yet geared up for tractor production when World War II broke out and when the war ended only companies which were producing tractors before the war were allowed to restart production. To keep from being shut out of the market, Porsche entered into agreements with two other manufacturers, Allgaier and Hofherr Schrantz, both of which were producing tractors. Both used Porsche’s air-cooled diesel engines in chassis of their own design.
In 1956 Mannesmann AG bought the rights to produce the Allgaier tractor and the Porsche-designed engines and developed a modern, new manufacturing facility in which to build them. Between 1956 and 1963 Mannesmann produced some 125,000 Porsche-Diesel tractors. Production ceased in 1963 and no Porsche tractors have been built since.
Approximately 1,000 Porsche tractors were sold in North America, mostly along the Atlantic coast, according to porsche-diesel.com. That number has swelled in recent years as collectors have been importing them from Europe and restoring them.
The tractor pictured was offered at last year’s Gone Farmin’ auction as Lot No. S49. The 1960 Standard Star sported a 26-hp, 2-cylinder air-cooled diesel engine, an 8-speed transmission and a foot throttle. It sold for $11,500.