1950S Porsche Tractor: an Unbelievable Auction Find!
By Tom Seest
At ClassicTractorNews, we help classic tractor lovers keep up with the latest news for classic and vintage tractors.
Porsche may conjure images of sleek sports cars, but the company also designs and builds tractors. Ferdinand Porsche began designing his “people tractor” during the 1930s; its unique design included an innovative fluid coupling between engine and transmission – as he believed farmers couldn’t operate a clutch system – making his prototype extremely efficient for use by farmers.
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Adolf Hitler asked Dr Ferdinand Porsche, prior to World War II, to create two vehicles: a simple car for people and an agricultural tractor for agriculture. Both designs outlived Adolf Hitler’s brutal regime and are now iconic designs; many collectors keep one as part of their collection.
Porsche tractors feature an innovative air-cooled design that makes them both quiet and fuel-efficient compared to modern tractors. Furthermore, they feature a fluid coupling between their engines and gearboxes, which allowed clutch-less shifting capabilities at that time – this revolutionary idea helped reduce wear on transmission components significantly.
In 1956, over 120,000 tractors were produced since their introduction. A reliable workhorse that could handle most light farm duties efficiently and come equipped with one to four cylinders, Junior was designed as the basic model while Standard and Super models had more horsepower. Nowadays, these tractors remain popular among Porsche collectors, while hobby farms often utilize them.
Restored Porsche Diesel Juniors can command prices as high as $30,000. But with renewed interest in all things Porsche comes a renewed appreciation of these classic machines – so much so that they have even made an appearance at Rennsport Reunion, where a pack of them races down Laguna Seca’s main straight!
Porsche-Diesel may be a popular brand today, but it should be remembered that Porsche itself did not manufacture these tractors; rather they licensed their designs to Allgaier and Hofherr Schrantz to produce under their trademark and sold successfully – over 125,000 licensed Porsche tractors were produced overall.
Porsche may conjure images of sleek, fast sports cars, but many don’t realize that Porsche also designed and produced over 125,000 tractors between 1956 and 1963 – each earning the same high standards of engineering excellence and superb build quality as its road car models. One such tractor (Model 219), which will be auctioned off by Bonhams later this month, has been extensively restored with brand-new tires fitted for better traction control.
The Model 219 is powered by an air-cooled two-cylinder diesel engine with fluid coupling that sends power directly to its transmission. According to legend, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche started developing his design of this “people tractor” during World War II alongside work on his “people car,” but due to war efforts, no more prototypes were manufactured until its conclusion.
After WWII ended, the Allied Occupation Government encouraged German firms to produce agricultural products. Porsche’s tractor designs were brought back out and improved for use in this new market; one such firm that stepped forward was Allgaier Werkzeugbau GmbH, which eventually produced Porsche-Diesel tractors.
Allgaier tractors were developed in collaboration with various Porsche engineers, such as Leopold Schmid and Wolfgang Eyb. A great deal of effort went into making these cost-effective tractors as efficient as possible while increasing performance; one key development in this direction was when major components from both types were shared between A 133 and AP 17 models, leading to reduced parts costs and greater reliability – resulting in the sale of these tractors worldwide despite extreme conditions!
Porsche may conjure images of sports cars like 911s or Cayennes, but this German manufacturer also produced agricultural vehicles during its 50s production run. An antique tractor from this period is currently listed for auction at the online platform Collecting Cars, painted in Porsche’s signature “Carmine Red,” just like their current sports vehicles today.
This Allgaier tractor features an air-cooled two-cylinder diesel engine with a hydraulic clutch. Additionally, this model comes equipped with a live portal rear axle and dead beam front axle with drum brakes for excellent braking capability. Although this tractor doesn’t display its mileage on its listing page, its seller states it has been extensively restored.
Junior has quickly become an extremely sought-after collectible among Porsche car fans and vintage tractor enthusiasts, as its air-cooled design is simple. Still, Porsche’s heritage lends it an appeal that transcends its simple air-cooled design. A fully restored model recently sold for over $30,000. Although this auction listing doesn’t feature one fully restored unit, it does feature a clean paint job and an air-cooled two-cylinder diesel engine powering this classic machine.
It features a live portal rear axle with drum brakes on both the left and right sides and an odometer that doesn’t record work hours, but according to its seller, it has been completely rebuilt and runs, drives, and stops nicely.
The seller notes that this tractor has only been used a handful of times and that its air-cooled engine starts promptly and operates efficiently. They claim it participated in last year’s Rennsport Reunion IV tractor races – we would love to see the footage! However, we doubt this Porsche-branded farm machine has seen as much use as a racecar would, although its appearance suggests otherwise.
Dr Ferdinand Porsche began designing a “people tractor” during the 1930s, simultaneously with his work on the Volkswagen Beetle – both designs would go on to outlive their commissioning regime and become beloved icons themselves.
His first three prototypes were straightforward yet very efficient gasoline engines; soon after, he designed an innovative air-cooled diesel engine. By early 1950, four basic models had been created with either 1, 2, 3, or 4-cylinder engines; all could run on either diesel or gasoline fuel sources, and each had easily removable cylinders for maintenance purposes.
After WWII, the Allied Occupation Government encouraged German factories to start producing agricultural products again. War-ravaged companies saw tractor production as an avenue back onto their feet; many dusted off Porsche’s tractor designs and began mass-producing them; unfortunately, by this point, he was being held prisoner in France and, therefore, could not participate in production himself.
Allgaier was chosen to produce these tractors, producing over 30,000 units between 1949 and 1955, but sales were lackluster. Mannesmann AG acquired Allgaier and its tractor facilities, adopting the Porsche name and founding Porsche-Diesel Motorenbau GmbH.
Today, over 125,000 Porsche-licensed tractors have been built. Some are still being used on farms, small holdings, and plantations around the world, while others are owned by collectors and enthusiasts. There is even a Porsche Tractor Register dedicated to these rare machines, which offers technical advice and technical support services, as well as rallies and concourse exhibitions dedicated to them. Among this fleet, the 108 model with its single-cylinder 822cc diesel engine remains especially popular with customers.
Ferdinand Porsche may be best known for designing sleek sports cars, but he also spent considerable time on tractor designs. Ferdinand began work on them simultaneously with his work on the Volkswagen Beetle; his initial three prototypes shared many characteristics with its counterpart; by 1946 however, he had completed a 4-wheel drive tractor design ready to go into production; unfortunately, WWII derailed those plans, forcing Porsche to license his designs instead to companies already producing tractors such as Allgaier in Germany and Hofherr Schrantz in Austria who then sold these models as Allgaier-System Porsche or Hofherr Schrantz-System Porsche respectively.
Porsche tractors were initially equipped with gasoline engines, but following World War II, they switched over to diesel models, which proved much more fuel-efficient while handling heavier loads more effectively. Each tractor featured fluid couplings to transfer power between engine and transmission and also came equipped with dual-range manual transmissions for smooth performance.
Porsche tractors are one of the most highly desired collector pieces today. Not only are they stunning to look at, but many are still being used around farms or private collections – plus, they make great conversation pieces among car enthusiasts!
Are You Searching for a Vintage Porsche Tractor on Bonhams? Bonhams provides an extensive selection of vintage Porsche tractors from various manufacturers, with filters by year and price so that you can find exactly the machine for your collection. Plus, with price comparison features, you can make sure that you find a good deal when making your purchase!
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