1939 FORDSON Model N TractorView vehicle description
Though already well on his way toward becoming a tycoon when the world-changing
Model T debuted in 1908, Henry Ford never forgot his childhood spent on the family
farm in Dearborn, Michigan.
Born of a genuinely altruistic desire to ease the burden of farming, as well as an equally
strong dislike of horses, Ford soon steered his growing empire’s unprecedented
resources toward developing the Model T of tractors; one that would improve the
efficiency and quality of life for farmers and their families not only in America, but
A development of 1917’s Model F, Fordson’s Model N debuted in 1929 with more power,
an improved engine air filtration system, reconfigured rear fenders, and other, largely
Production switched from Dearborn to Cork, Ireland, and would later shift again to Ford
UK’s famous Dagenham plant in Essex, England. By the end of production in 1945,
nearly 236,000 Model Ns had been built in plants as distant from Detroit as Leningrad
and Stalingrad, a large majority of which came from Dagenham.
Though large numbers of English-made Model Ns were exported to the United States,
many thousands of examples remained on British soil, and today are given much credit
for helping to sustain domestic food supply during the darkest days of WW2.
On the Outside
Though actually quite a compact machine with a diminutive 63” wheelbase, the Model
N’s chunky looks and outsized 42” x 12” rear tires work to trick the eye and suggest a
much less modest footprint. For some perspective, said tires mount to stamped, cast,
and welded steel rear wheels measuring a relatively modest 24” in diameter; modern
Range Rovers now come with 22” items straight from the factory.
In keeping with Ford’s personal philosophy that machine styling was an unnecessary
and even undesirable embellishment, the Model N’s form was almost entirely shaped by
its function. It’s a handsome, practical looking device regardless, with squat, purposeful
lines highlighted by fascinating construction details such as its patented stressed-unit
On the Inside
The Model N was austere even by the standards of Great Depression and War Era
agricultural implements, and took the functional minimalism of its parent company’s
Model T car to new extremes.
Perched high above and behind the rear axle upon a flat-sprung steel saddle affixed
directly to a massive differential housing, the operator faces a large steering wheel and
enjoys a forward view unencumbered by even a single instrument. Delicate Ford Motor
Company, Ltd., England script embossed into the fuel tank and its raised, black lettered
counterpart directly beneath merely gild the lily.
Power is derived from a gasoline-fueled 267ci L-head four-cylinder delivering 27 hp to
the rear wheels via a 3-speed manual transmission. A PTO or power take-off shaft was
available to run various accessories from 1935, though this example makes do with just
a standard belt pulley for use as a stationary power plant.
The stressed or unit construction method mentioned earlier is a significant feature of the
design, and unitized the engine, transmission, and rear axle to form a self-supporting
frame to which all other components are attached.
This clever bit of engineering saved material, weight, and complexity while greatly
contributing to improved strength and ease of maintenance, and clearly inspired the
highly influential torque tube system later employed to great success by Allis-Chalmers’
similarly iconic Model B tractor of 1937-1957.
This vehicle is being offered without known history.
What We Think
Despite its crude outward appearance, the Model N was actually a highly sophisticated
piece of machinery, and employed carefully considered engineering designed to
improve efficiency at every stage of its development, manufacture, operation, and
This same thoughtfulness is equally useful to modern day enthusiasts, and helps make
a well-kept Model N an ideal port of entry into the exciting world of vintage tractor
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- Location: Newberg, OR, United States
- Seller Type: Private
- Odometer Reading: TMU
- Chassis Number: N/A
- Engine: 267 cu in. L-Head 4-Cylinder
- Gearbox: Manual
- Steering position: Left-hand drive
- Colour: Gray
- Interior: Black
- Estimated Price: $6,000 - $10,000