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The Complete Guide to Wheel Horse Tractors

The Complete Guide to Wheel Horse Tractors

Wheel Horse Tractors was an American manufacturer of lawn and garden tractors which was formed by Elmer Pond in 1946 in his garage in the state of Indiana. Pond began his company by simply using scrap parts but he quickly found himself heading a successful manufacturing company. The first product designed and produced by Wheel Horse Tractors was a two wheel, self propelled garden tractor which quickly developed into a full line of tractors for individual use.

In the mid 1900s the demand for tractors grew among the general population. People were quickly moving to the suburbs where they had yards, gardens and other property to care for which required garden tractors and other lawn equipment. Wheel Horse Tractors capitalized on this demand by selling relatively inexpensive products that could be purchased by the middle class. Within 10 years the company had become profitable and their product offering continued to grow. By 1959 the company could no longer keep up with demand and their sales were over $4.5 million.

Another successful business strategy that solidified Wheel Horse Tractors profitable success was that it strategically designed their tractors to be available as a standard base which could support a variety of different mowing, digging and other attachments. This product standardization is one of the most well-known practices of Wheel Horse and a key to its success. Wheel Horse Tractors found great success in selling not only their tractors but their attachments as well.

The lawn mower is the most well-known product manufactured by Wheel Horse Tractors. The R-J58 Wheel Horse model was the most popular and was available for purchase with a compatible mowing deck. In 1958, Wheel Horse Tractor unveiled their 3- speed transmission model tractor with a Kohler k-90 engine adding a bit more power and control to its products.

In 1960, Wheel Horse continued improving its fleet by adding in the 550 model which featured a 5.5 horse power engine and a slightly small 400 model with a 4 horse power engine. Within another 5 years Wheel Horse had added two hydraulic drive system tractors and had increased its attachment product offerings to include snow blowers which expanded the demand for their products into all seasons. In 1968, Wheel Horse sent its latest tractor, The Ranger, to market with a 6 horse power engine, two year warranty and increased rear wheel size. The company also expanded into manufacturing snowmobiles under the product name Sno-Flite.

By 1974, Wheel Horse Tractors had added four more lawn and garden tractors to its line which had automatic transmissions and more powerful engines than ever before. This was also the year that American Motors bought the company for $30 million. In 1982 American Motors sold Wheel Horse to Munn Investments and was eventually purchased by Toro for $8 million in 1986. Toro continues to manufacture tractors under the Wheel Horse name which is a tribute to its dependability and affordability. Additionally, antique Wheel Horse tractors are collected by enthusiasts and are displayed proudly at events in shows around the country.

Photo courtesy of xblazerboyx.

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