Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Comfortractor

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.


dive said...

Now that's my kinda tractor.
What a beauty, Speedway!

Petrea Burchard said...

Those are beauties, and that top shot is almost lickable.

Speedway said...

The orange on that tractor could be spotted right away in the middle of any field, I'll bet! I remember that red on fire trucks was the "safety" color of its day. Could this orange have been the same?

Another odd-looking beastie looked like the offspring of a top-fuel dragster and a tractor, as it was long, low-slung and had what looked like big, puffy tires. As it turned out, it was a tractor meant for a sod farm.

Years ago, I was on my way home from the grocery when I noticed a couple semis parked in the lot. They were each hauling a quasi-crated International Harvester combine. The destination on the crates read Le Havre, France. Somehow, when we speak of US technology being exported, it never occurred to me that tractors, combines, plows and such would be desired by other countries. Seeing the combines on their way to their new jobs was an eye-opener.

I've paid more attention to farm equipment ever since.

Speedway said...

Thank you Dive and Petrea for your compliment. However, it was all the doing of the owner, who keeps his Comfortractor so yummy-looking, and to M-M for thinking of that unusual machine.

dive said...

A tractor that looks like a dragster? I waaaaant one!

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is the coolest tractor that I have ever seen! Thanks for telling us about them. I would never have known anything about them otherwise!