Fordson Model F
20 H.P., four cylinder engine
delivered 10 H.P. on the drawbar
3 speed spur gear transmission
Produced from 1917-1928 at Dearborn in America
Produced from 1919-1922 at Cork, Ireland
The Fordson Model F was rolled out in 1917 in limited production, and scaled up to mass production in 1918 to meet the urgent need for tractors by the British government. Owing to the ongoing dispute with the board of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford chose to market the farm tractors with the Fordson name, a shortened form of the Henry Ford & Son Company that was actually producing the tractor at this time. When Ford assumed sole control of Ford in 1920, the Henry Ford & Son Company was rolled into the Ford Motor Company, but the Fordson name was kept.
The Fordson was revolutionary first and foremost because it was a smaller design than many of the tractors produced by other companies at the time. These other companies were operating under the mistaken belief that bigger is better. The smaller design of the Fordson allowed the tractor to be affordable and easy to produce. Especially important to that goal, the new Ford tractors lacked a conventional frame. Instead, the engine, transmission, and axle housings were all bolted together to form the basic structure of the tractor. With the small size and innovative frame of the first Fordson, the tractor was well-suited for the mass production Ford had brought to the Model T. As a result of this, the machine could be sold at a much lower price affordable to average farmers. Just as Ford had brought the car to the middle class through assembly line production, the tractor was now also within reach.
Towards the second half of the 1920's, the agricultural market entered a depression because of the declining farm prices, years before the rest of the country would follow. Because of declining market fortunes, the decision was made to suspend production of farm tractors in early 1928. This move was partially reversed when strong demand for tractors by the Soviet Union and an urgent need for spare parts prompted Ford to reopen the Cork, Ireland, production facility. But the engineers now designed a new model that was to be built at this factory, the Model N. The main change involved the increase in horsepower for the engine, which was achieved by increasing the cylinder bore by 1/8 of an inch. All production of Ford tractors was now centered in Europe.