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Looking for Utilitors

Collecting Utilitor Garden Tractors

| November/December 2001

  • Utilitor Model 4
    Joe Smith's restored 1938 Utilitor Model 4, Joe at the controls.
  • Utilitor
    The Utilitor as found. Note the broken frame at the rear and rotting wheels.
  • Utilitor advertisement
    An early Utilitor advertisement. Utilitor began operations in Indianapolis, Ind., in 1918

  • Utilitor Model 4
  • Utilitor
  • Utilitor advertisement

Hi, I am Joe Smith, one of the founders of the Vintage Garden Tractor Club.

Before the club ever got off the ground I was at a show at Symco, Wis. I was showing my antique snowmobiles at the parade, pulling them on a trailer with an old garden tractor I had bought, and a fellow asked me if I would be interested in taking a look at one of his garden tractors. He called it a Utilitor. A couple of months later I went to his house, and in his garage laid an inline, 4-cylinder Wisconsin engine with a hood on it. Embossed on the front of the hood was the word 'Utilitor.' As you can see in the picture, the back half of the frame was broken and the wheels were rotted away. So I bought the tractor, took it home, and I restored it.

As the club started to grow I was contacted by another man from New York. He sent me a picture of a garden tractor that was in his barn, a single-cylinder, walk behind, water-cooled garden tractor, called a Utilitor. We couldn't agree on a price.

Three years later a few of us members were going to our national show in Canada, and on the way through Michigan we stopped at one of the members of the club to stay overnight. While we were there he suggested that we should all go over to a friend of his to see his collection of garden tractors. I don't know the exact number, but it looked like he had over 250. In one of the buildings there were two Utilitors, one restored and one not restored. Being the ultra-conservative man that I am (some may wish to use the word cheap), you would think I would buy the one not restored. Instead, I broke down and paid twice as much (ouch) and bought the one already restored. I did this so I would have two already restored to show. It is a Model 500, about 1920.

We were already loaded, so I told the man I would be back in a couple of weeks to pick up the Utilitor. Then when I came back to his place we sat down and talked about how he got the tractor. To my surprise it was the same Utilitor from New York I was tempted to buy three years ago.

Now the third Utilitor I added to my collection happened about a year and a half ago. A fellow wrote to me from Waupaca, Wis. He wanted to know if I would be interested in a tractor he had called an Utilitor. It was a two-cylinder, water-cooled walk behind with a Nova engine in it. It's a Model 26 W, and there was also a Model 26 air-cooled, and Models 25 (5 HP) and 24 (4 HP) air-cooled.


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