The History of Ford N Series Tractors

by Jason Ryffe
ford tractor
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Ford N Series tractors were some of the most popular and innovative agricultural machines of their time, revolutionizing the farming industry in the 1930s and 1940s. They were produced by the famous Ford Motor Company between 1939 and 1952 and were highly acclaimed for their reliability, power, and versatility. 

The N Series tractors were designed to cater to the specific needs of farmers and were produced in various models, each with a set of unique features to suit the needs of different farms. These tractors were also relatively affordable and easy to operate, making them popular among small-scale farmers.

Today, the N Series tractors remain an important part of agricultural history, and some of these machines are still in use on farms around the world. Diving into the history of the Ford N Series tractors is essential to appreciate the role they played in changing farming and to better understand the evolution of agricultural machinery. 

If you’re curious to learn more, keep reading this article, as it goes over the history of the Ford N Series tractors and the impact they had on the world. 

9N

The 9N model was the first tractor introduced in the Ford N Series, and it became an instant success among farmers. It was first produced from 1939 to 1941 and was praised for its affordability and ease of use. The 9N tractor had a four-cylinder engine, three-speed transmission, and a three-point hitch system, giving the tractor more usable traction than it would otherwise have.

Ford 9N was designed with smaller farms in mind. It had relatively tall and wide-spaced front wheels, which made steering a bit difficult and slow at times. Still, it helped reduce the overall physical strain on farmers and worked brilliantly as a general-purpose row-crop tractor. 

ford 9N tractor

During World War II, the Ford Motor Company shifted its focus to producing military equipment. However, the 9N tractors were still in use. For instance, the US Navy used them on aircraft carriers for towing aircraft. After the war, the production of the 9N model was halted. 

The 9N model remains an important part of the Ford N Series tractors’ history, as it paved the way for the development of other models in the series. Its innovations and advancements in agricultural machinery have had a lasting impact on the farming industry but also found use during wartime. 

2N

The 2N was the second tractor introduced in the Ford N Series, following the success of the 9N model. It was produced between 1942 and 1947 and was designed to address some of the issues faced by farmers using the 9N tractor. The 2N model had several improvements, such as a larger fuel tank, a redesigned cooling system, and a more powerful engine.

The Ford company hadn’t decided to upgrade the 3-speed transmission, which put the 2N model at a significant disadvantage, especially when compared to other popular tractors at the time. For instance, a large row-crop Farmall M tractor, produced in 1939, had a sliding-gear transmission and six gears: five forward and one reverse.

When the first Ford 2N tractors were produced, the US had just joined the war. Therefore, goods such as batteries were reserved for the so-called “war effort.” For the tractors, this meant having to use a magneto ignition system that required a hand crank in order to start.

Despite these small inconveniences, Ford didn’t hesitate to raise the price of their brand-new tractor. While the wartime prices control prevented the company from charging more for the already existing models, these rules didn’t apply to the 2N. 

8N

The 8N was the last tractor in the Ford N Series and was produced between 1947 and 1952. It was designed to be an improvement on the 2N and had several new features and innovations that made it a significant step forward in the development of agricultural machinery.

One of the most notable changes introduced in the 8N model was the four-speed transmission, which gave the farmers more control over the tractor’s speed and power. The 8N also had an improved hydraulic system, which allowed for more precise control over the implements and made the machine much easier to operate.

ford 8N tractor

The 8N model was a massive success among farmers, and it remains one of the most iconic tractors in agricultural history. Its innovations and advancements in agricultural machinery played a crucial role in the farming industry of that time. 8N was a flexible, efficient and reliable machine built to last for generations. 

Of course, as with any other tractor, 8N still required regular and careful maintenance, but it had no significant design flaws that would make it hard to work on or non-ideal for small homesteads.

NAA

The NAA was not technically part of the Ford N Series tractors, but it is often associated with the series and is considered a successor to the 8N model. The NAA, also known as the “Golden Jubilee,” was produced in 1953 and was designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ford Motor Company. It was also the first tractor produced by the Ford company after losing the legal battle with Harry Ferguson over the patents regarding the famous three-point hitch.

The NAA model had a more modern design, with a sleeker look and improved operator comfort. It was slightly bigger than the three N models and around 100 pounds heavier. The manufacturer made a four-speed transmission a standard on this model.

The NAA was a significant step forward in the evolution of agricultural machinery. Its success at the time and popularity among collectors today demonstrate its importance in agricultural history.

The U.S. “Hundred” Series

Although the “hundred” series tractors were not a part of the N-series (hence a different name), they’re still worth an honorable mention.

From 1955 to 1956, Ford produced four new models. The “600” and “700” had around 30 horsepower on their drawbars. However, the former was intended to be used as a utility or a plowing tractor, while the latter was more of a row crop machine.

Then, there were also other “hundreds:” “800” and “900” tractors. Their main advantage were the 40 horsepower engines, but, similarly to the “700,” they were mostly intended to be used as row crop tractors. 

In later years, Ford also produced the “1” series tractors — the model numbers all ended with “1.” Finally, in 1961, came the “thousand” series with mighty 60 horsepower engines. These numbers may not seem like a lot, especially compared to the new and truly modern tractors, but back then, they were incredibly impressive and are still well-remembered among those farmers who used to work with them as well as all the US agriculture enthusiasts. 

Final Thoughts

The Ford N Series tractors were, at one point in history, a true game-changer in the farming industry, providing a reliable and powerful tool to increase efficiency and productivity. Their affordability and ease of use made them accessible to small-scale farmers and revolutionized the way agriculture was practiced.

The N Series tractors were produced in three models, each with unique features to cater to specific farming needs.

Today, the N Series tractors remain an important part of agricultural history, and their impact on the farming industry is still appreciated. Understanding the history of these tractors and their innovations is crucial to appreciating their contribution to the evolution of agricultural machinery.

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