Sunday, August 7, 2011
It's the second day of the Fair and I went to join other photographers for what the Fair's promotional staff was calling a "Digital Shootout." I spent all morning taking pictures, making a lap of the grounds where I saw a few new (for me) and unusual sights. The most astonishing of these was the Minneapolis-Moline UDLX Comfortractor, which I saw amid a disply of its more usual-looking cousins and wondered, WTF?
Introduced in 1938 by Minneapolis-Moline, a tractor company with a reputation for producing reliable farm machinery, the Comfortractor was meant as a crossover vehicle, one that could plow the fields during the week, then take its owner into town on the weekends, where he could party with his lady friend. The tractor's bright orange body work enclosed a heated cab in which there was room for two people on a padded seat. Among other features, there was a cigarette lighter, a "knicknack" box, a dashboard sporting a speedometer (up to 45 MPH!), oil pressure and water temperature gauges, as well as a clock. It had fenders and a bumper.
Trouble was, it was a machine that came into being ahead of it's time. The country was still sluggish, just emerging from the Great Depression, and the price tag, at $2,150, was a bit steep for its time. There were only 150 of the Comfortractors produced, so they are a pleasant rarity when they show up at antique shows.