If the model 62 is the father of the model L, then the
grand-daddy is the model Y.
In 1935 Deere & Company engineer Willard Nordensen was
assigned to develop a new small tractor, but in his words, ‘not
spend any money’. Rather than being designed for truck farming
as one might think, the tractor was designated for the south, to be
the power source on farms where a single mule had previously been
the power source.
Nordensen, who was joined by up to four other engineers, tried
to design the new tractor as cheaply as possible. A two cylinder
vertical Novo engine typical of those used in other types of John
Deere equipment was utilized. The transmission and steering column
were from a model A Ford. The Novo engine soon proved to have its
share of problems and it was replaced by a Hercules engine. This
engine was a four cylinder engine cut in half at the request of
Deere & Company. To the best of anyone’s knowledge today,
two dozen model Y’s were built. The tractors were built for
mostly experimental purposes, however at least one seems to have
been retailed to a man in Michigan, in the spring of 1936. The list
price for this tractor was $532. All model Y’s were eventually
scrapped although one seems to have made it into the
Although its numbers were not great, the model Y was a
successful tractor in that it provided the general layout and
design for the model 62 and later the popular model L and LA.