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The Tractor of the Century: 1939 Aluminum Hood Ford 9N Up for Auction

1939 Aluminum Hood Ford 9N: Tractor of the Century

It was October, 1938, and a “handshake agreement” between Henry Ford and Harry Ferguson would result in what is generally regarded as the tractor of the century. Incredibly, the prototype of the 9N Ford-Ferguson would be designed and built is a matter of months. There hasn’t been as revolutionary a tractor introduced since this ground-breaking design saw the light of day on June 29, 1939 in Dearborn, Michigan.

Henry Ford once said, “I have walked many a weary mile behind a plow, and I know the drudgery of it”. The advances made by the 9N put nearly 20 million agricultural working horses out of business. Henry Ford recognized the use of hydraulic power as the wave of the future, and when he saw the Ferguson three-point hitch demonstrated, he immediately came to an agreement with Ferguson with the desire of building a tractor that was inexpensive, rugged, and reduced the grueling physical workload for the farmer.

The beauty of the Ferguson system was that its three-point hitch system allowed an operator to change to any of 18 implements in a matter of minutes, and with its patented Draft Control, the hydraulic system would regulate the working depth of the implement. So effective was the Ferguson system that virtually every tractor built since the 9N has used variations of the system. A bevy of standard features included rubber tires, an electrical system utilizing a starter, generator and a direct-driven distributor, and a rear Power Take Off. Essentially using a 28-horsepower Ford Model A engine, and with a price tag almost half of any comparable tractor, this was a value-rich machine.

1939 Aluminum Hood Ford N9
 This 1939 Ford 9N will cross the block at the 3rd Annual Gone Farmin' Tractor Auction August 3-4, in Walworth, Wisc. 

Early examples of the 9N were built with aluminum cast hoods, grills, and side panels. Approximately 600-700 were built with alloy parts. Most original hoods were destroyed under harsh working conditions, or replaced with steel hoods when the harder material was available. There are fewer than 35 known examples of original aluminum-hood 9N tractors remaining. I recently received a phone call about some rare Ford tractors, and I headed out into a blizzard to see what was being offered. When I saw this 1939 aluminum-hood 9N, Serial #528, I knew that braving the elements had been worth it. While hundreds of thousands of 9N’s and their Ford successors have been built, pristine examples of a very early 9N are something of a Holy Grail. This will be an outstanding addition to any serious collection.