Air-cooled Porsches don’t come more affordable than the Porsche-diesel brand’s oft-overlooked range of tractors…
When most people are asked to bring to mind a Porsche, they’ll think of a sleek, premium quality German sports car. Fair enough, but Dr Ferdinand and his son, Ferry, are responsible for a wide array of ground-breaking performance machinery, including the Elefant heavy tank destroyer, the Volkswagen Type 82 Kübelwagen light military vehicle and, of course, its cousin, the Beetle.
While Dr Porsche was sketching the people’s car, he was also developing the people’s plough. Often referred to as the Volks-tractor, this impressive workhorse — given the designator, Type 110 — was futuristic in terms of its technology and appearance when compared to the agricultural vehicles of the day. Of course, this was the 1930s, and the German war effort was about to come into full effect, meaning that despite three prototypes being developed, the tractor project was put on hold in favour of military armament assignments.
Mass tractor production was a big deal in Germany towards the end of the second World War, yet not a single machine was produced of the Porsche designs. In fact, only firms who had been making tractors prior and during the war were permitted to continue production. Since Porsche wasn’t one of these companies, it entered into a licensing agreement with Allgaier Gmbh and Hofherr Schrantz, German and Austrian manufacturers making use of Porsche’s designs, resulting in Allgaier-system Porsche and Schrantz-system Porsche tractors respectively.
Aided by Germany’s post-war economic boom, sales exceeded expectation. In part, the success of the Porsche designs was down to each tractor featuring a
beautifully sculpted front end, but a choice of air-cooled diesel engines (ranging from single-cylinder 12hp units to four-cylinder variants delivering 44hp) and an extensive selection of accessories also played their part in contributing to a production volume of more than 40,000 tractors by 1955.
In 1956, five years after Porsche Sr’s death, a new chapter in Porsche tractor development came into play through the formation of Porsche-diesel Gmbh, a joint venture with Mannesmann AG, a German industrial conglomerate keen to get into the tractor business. The old Zeppelin factory at Lake Konstanz was redeveloped into a massive state-of-the-art manufacturing facility with the very best tooling available. Between 1956 and 1963, some 125,000 units left the Porsche-diesel factory. Whereas Allgaier-system Porsches were known for their bright green and orange paintwork, Porsche-diesel tractors were painted in an attractive twin-tone red and cream finish. New designations of Junior (singlecylinder), Standard (two-cylinder), Super (three-cylinder) and Master (fourcylinder) were listed, with close to sixty-five variations being sold across the range. The most successful year of production was 1961, with 16,337 tractors being produced, a number that contributed to Porsche-diesel’s status as the second most popular tractor brand in the German market.
After eight years of strong sales, Porsche-diesel ended production on 15th July 1963. These well-respected machines live on, however, with lovingly restored examples constantly making appearances at car shows, historic tractor rallies and at Porsche’s own museum in Stuttgart. Furthermore, due to the extraordinarily highquality build of each brilliantly designed Porsche tractor, many are still working hard on farms, smallholdings and plantations today, while others wait patiently in barns for restoration following a worldwide surge of interest in what is an often overlooked part of Porsche’s history.
A host of aftermarket suppliers are keen to promote the availability of freshly made parts and accessories designed to keep Porsche tractors in full working order. This is music to the ears of loyal agricultural vehicle enthusiasts lucky enough to own a chunk of Porschepenned engineering sitting outside the sports car sphere. And just like the high-powered, fast-road Porsche products we all know and love, the unique sound and style of Porsche tractors makes them every bit as exciting to buyers seeking a fun, low-cost Porsche project. As little as five grand will get you a Porsche-diesel doer-upper, while fully restored Supers can reach five times that figure. It’s not the appreciating classic you might have been expecting us to shout about, but if you’re working to a tight budget, want an air-cooled classic you can work on at home, and if you hope to own a Porsche serving as a talking point, it doesn’t get much better than this. There are plenty of surviving Porschediesel tractors to choose from, too, especially in Europe. Hit the classifieds and let us know how you get on.
IF YOU HOPE TO OWN A CLASSIC PORSCHE SERVING AS A TALKING POINT, IT DOESN’T GET MUCH BETTER THAN THIS
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