Rt 4, Box 149A, Keyser, West Virginia 26726
Keyser, West Virginia is the home of a unique little tractor with a lot of history. Last year this little garden gem made its modern day debut, with the first time ever Tiger Tractor Collector's Meet. Once again, those West Virginia made Tigers are being honored with a collector's meet and antique car show being held on Sunday, September 22, 1991. This proud get-together is hosted by the Upper Potomac Vintage Auto Club in conjunction with the town's annual Founder's Day Festival.
Last year's first event proved to be most successful, with a total of 21 Tiger Tractors appearing from as far away as Centerport, New York. Tigers were located, however, as far away as Spokane, Washington! Along with the first Tiger Tractor Collector's Meet came the first ever fact-filled history book about this little garden tractor. A 109 page booklet had been compiled and was given to those who attended.
What makes this little garden tractor so special? The Tiger Tractor was built in Keyser, West Virginia in a privately owned manufacturing plant which operated from 1948 until the early 1960's when the company went bankrupt. Many different models were made ranging from 41/2 HP to 91/2 HP. The earlier models were operated using a hand clutch, while later ones had a three-speed transmission and differential. The average Tiger was sold with five attachments, including snow plow, garden plows, discs, sickle bar, belly mower, and other pieces. According to one informant, who actually worked at the plant and painted the finished machine, the original colors were green and yellow with white letters.
The manufacturer stated 'the model 920 was better than other similar American tractors. The reason is that it is backed by 20 years experience in the small tractor field by the company that invented and marketed the first small tractor in the world. The Tiger has no belts; instead, uses heavy duty gears, drive shafts and heat treated steel gearing throughout!'
For several years, the Tiger was produced in many models, some of which were functional, but crude by our standards. This was mainly to keep the cost down, we assume, since better technology was available. As the competition began to grow, the need for better tractors was obvious. The president of the Tiger Company, Mr. John Somerville, asked Mr. J. B. Kuhn of Keyser to develop a prototype of an improved tractor, later to be the model C100. This was a top-of-the-line tractor. However, it appears its production and increased cost helped bring an end to this model. The original prototype, now owned by Mr. Kuhn's son, Robert, was on display at the first collector's meet and we hope to see it again this year.
It is unfortunate that this little garden tractor, once called 'America's Finest Small Tractor' had a life span of only seventeen years. The Tiger Tractor is, however, now making a comeback, at least to the garden tractor collector. Uncover those forgotten little garden tractors and you may be surprised to find you are harboring one of those unique garden gems, The Tiger! The Upper Potomac Vintage Auto Club wants to know! Anyone with a Tiger, information, or just an interest is invited to attend this special event on Sunday, September 22, 1991 in Keyser, West Virginia, home of the Tiger Tractor. If you have information or a Tiger, contact David Frederick, Rt. 4, Box 149A, Keyser, WV 26726 or call 304-788-6644. Those Tigers are out there and still roaring!