The Ford Motor Company reached its peak in tractor production during the 1960s with a mix of successful tractor models and some failures. The decade saw Ford consolidate its European operations with North America by importing Belgium- and British-manufactured Fordsons to the U.S. and rebadging them. Ford's European markets still used the tractor maker's old Fordson name. The 1960s also brought more powerful six-cylinder diesel and gasoline engines to American farmers, as well as more versatile mechanical components.
Ford in the 1960s
Ford's strategy to consolidate its European and North American operations strengthened its position in the market and brought some much-needed new design elements to help lighten the load for the American farmer. Yet, the decade was not without some serious problems: In 1959, Ford launched its Select-O-Matic transmission, which provided 10 forward speeds and two reserve gears, in order to allow farmers to move tractors through rough terrain and give them better control of the machine. However, severe design flaws rendered the transmission almost useless. Ford repaired early Select-O-Matics, and then resorted to redesigning the transmission to correct the flaws. It took years before the Select-O-Matic became reliable. While Ford struggled with the Select-O-Matic, it introduced the Ford 6000 in 1961 with severe technical problems. What Ford touted as a high-end tractor proved to be an embarrassment.
The Ford 6000 was the tractor maker's top-of-the-line six-cylinder engine farm tractor. It featured an economy PTO option, which reduced the engine rpms by as much as one-quarter when the operator did not need the power. The engine featured a 3.62-inch bore and 3.60-inch stroke and displaced 223 cubic inches with an 8.4-to-1 compression ratio. A diesel version displaced 241 cubic inches and had a 16.2-to-1 compression ratio. The tractor was huge, with a weight of 7,405 pounds, and had an 85-inch wheelbase while standing on 18-inch front wheels and 38-inch rear wheels. However, the tractor's engines were plagued with innumerable technical glitches that engineers could not overcome; Ford finally recalled the tractors.
By 1961, Ford replaced its 601 tractor series with the 2000 series. The Ford 2000 featured a 157-cubic-inch, four-cylinder gasoline engine with a 3.44-inch bore and 3.60-inch stroke and a 7.5-to-1 compression ratio that developed 36 horsepower. The 2000 weighed in at 3,000 pounds and had a 75.8-inch wheelbase. For 1962, Ford brought from England its Fordson Super Dexta. Originally produced at the Ford assembly plant in Dagenham from 1957 to 1961, it now became Ford's 2000 diesel (available from 1962 to 1965). The diesel engine displaced 144 cubic inches and developed 36 horsepower with a 3.56-inch bore and 3.60-inch stroke. A later (1965 to 1975) Ford 2000 with a three-cylinder engine was unrelated to the early 1960s Ford 2000s.
Continuing its program to merge operations, Ford also brought over from Dagenham, England, the Fordson Super Major and rebadged it the Ford 5000. The Super Major/5000 had a 1965-to-1976 production run in North America. It featured a four-cylinder gasoline engine generating 69 horsepower. It had a 4.212-inch bore and 4.2126-inch stroke with an 8.0-to-1 compression ratio. Ford placed the 2000 on an 87.5-inch wheelbase. It weighed 5,865 pounds and sat on 16-inch front wheels and 38-inch rear wheels.
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