Four completely new tractors debuted that August day in Texas, the 36hp 1010, 47hp 2010, 60hp 3010, and 84hp 4010. All but the 4010 were fours of varying displacements in gas, diesel or LPG, but the flagship 4010 was a new inline six-cylinder. The gas/lpg engine was 301ci and the wet-sleeved, direct-injected diesel shared similar architecture but made 380ci. The 4010 came as a wide or narrow front adjustable-tread rowcrop, a fixed-tread standard, or a high-crop. Later in ’61, an industrial model in yellow paint was offered. Interestingly, Deere rated the 4010 at 80 PTO hp, while the Nebraska test gave it 84.
Among the highlights of the 4010 was the Synchro-range transmission. It featured an innovative partially synchronized 8-speed gearbox. It was divided into four ranges. You could quickly shift within the ranges without stopping; however, you needed to stop, or slow way down, to shift between the ranges. Only one lever was used and it operated in a straight line up and down with reverse detents to the right. It was vastly different from anything on the market and very handy. The final judges were the farmers, who liked the setup, and it proved durable for the most part. Only minor upgrades were made for the introduction of the upgraded 1964 4020 models.
In three years of production, which started May 2, 1960, Deere cranked out 57,573 4010s, more than 36,000 of them diesel rowcrops. The others in the 10 Series delivered similarly impressive sales. Everyone but the competition was happy with those numbers and history has judged the 4010, and the rest of Deere’s 10 Series New Generation tractors, a whopping success. Good as it was, the 4010’s major claim to fame had been that it set the stage for what is probably Deere’s most famous and best-selling tractor of the era, the 4020. That’s the tractor that set the mark for all the other manufacturers in the 1960s and early 1970s to beat. For that reason, the 4010 is one of John Deere’s cornerstone tractors.