1961 JOHN DEERE 4010
John Deere completely and utterly changed its tractor model lines for the 1961 model year. Gone were the 2-cylinder “Popping Johnnies” that had defined the company for decades prior. Replacing them was a sleek line of tractors that were new from the ground up and from nose to tail. New inline four and six-cylinder engines replaced the long-stroke two-cylinders and the new generation of John Deere began. The public debut came on August 30, 1960, in Dallas, Texas. They called it “D-day”—for Deere Day—and no expense was spared for the 6,000 guests. It took on the proportions of a high-class Broadway debut and a diamond-studded tractor was unveiled at the downtown Dallas Nieman-marcus store, with suits and formal gowns dominating. Later, 136 new tractors paraded around the Dallas Livestock Coliseum along with the other hardware produced by Deere & Company.
By no small coincidence, the debut was dubbed “The New Generation of Power.” Deere had observed International Harvester’s 1958 “New World of Power” hoopla and sought to exceed it. Doing so was another direct and purposeful chop at I-H with the jagged cleaver of fate because “Big Red” was still reeling from its 560 final drive debacle.
At the end of the 1950s, both companies had known they each were going to unveil sweeping product changes at roughly the same time. Their approach to it was different. The I-H strategy was to beat Deere to the “New Generation Draw” at all costs. That led them to a fatal mistake: putting an updated line of tractors onto the market before it was ready for prime time. Deere’s approach was more a measured, “no wine before it’s time” deal and allowed them to step over Big Red’s temporarily prostrate form, take a major sales lead, and hold it for the rest of International Harvester’s time as a corporate entity. Deere went from a 23 percent market share in 1959 to 34 percent by 1964, making it the top manufacturer of farm equipment in the United States.
Gary Nagel’s ’61 4010 Rowcrop has Deere’s “Roll-o-matic” knee-action narrow front axle, which was part of the standard rowcrop package. One unusual-to-the-industry feature Deere favored was the side inlets for radiator cooling air, hence the side grilles forward of the engine. This did several things, including reducing the amount of chaff that could clog the radiator and cause overheating. It also added a bit to the wheelbase, which added to traction and stability. The fuel tank was also located forward of the engine to further balance the tractor.
With the New Generation tractors, Deere debuted a 3-point hitch that was touted as being far above the previous generation tractors. This tractor appears to be a factory “bareback” unit, shipped without the optional 3-point hitch. It does have the optional dual range PTO, which could be changed from 540 to 1,000 rpm, the swinging drawbar, a single set of hydraulic remotes, and the “Comfort” seat. Base price for the 4010 Rowcrop gasser was $4,116 and the diesel engine added $700.
The big news for the 4010 was the Synchro-range transmission. It had a single lever from which all eight forward and all three reverse speeds could be accessed. This gearbox translated well into the higher-power 4020 with few changes. One of the changes was to lock one of the reverse speeds that Deere considered too “fast.” John Deere spent a good deal of time on the operator’s station and it had everything that was needed but nothing that wasn’t. Power steering was standard. Check out the storage box in the lower middle.