For years, tractor manufacturers have been releasing limited edition or one-off models to commemorate anniversaries or special events. John Deere has resisted the temptation to do that and stuck with regular production designs, that is, until now. But in breaking with tradition, they’ve chosen to go the one-off tractor route in their own way. They’re revamping a classic model rather than something coming off the assembly line.
And Deere doesn’t seem to be linking this tractor to any special anniversary, other than the celebration of a 40-year-old classic machine. Nonetheless, it is attracting a lot of attention.
Last November Deere proudly announced it was commissioning noted automotive designer Chip Foose to take a 1970 4020 tractor and redesign it. Since that announcement, gearheads everywhere have been waiting with bated breath for the unveiling, which occurred at the Commodity Classic trade show in Anaheim, California, last month.
Foose transformed the tractor into something reminiscent of 1930s racing roadsters. “I’ve looked at tractors for years and always thought they’re narrow, they look almost like a dry lakes car or even some of the old Indy cars, so that’s the direction I took,” says Foose. “I wanted some of that racing feel to the tractor. And with the turf tires in the back and the three-ribbed tires in the front, it carries that theme all the way through from the tires to the sheet metal work to the paint job… but it’s still a John Deere.”
According to Deere’s press release, the 4020 was a working tractor on an Ohio farm when they acquired it. Before settling into Foose’s workshop for its custom treatment, the tractor underwent a complete mechanical overhaul.
Foose lowered the nose of the hood 13 and a half inches and the rear axle was lowered about seven inches, giving the tractor its new “in the weeds” stance. To get the rear end lower, a set of custom tire rims had to be fabricated to accommodate smaller turf tires. The steering column was also raked back to a lower angle.
In discussing his modifications at the unveiling, Foose says most of his modifications could easily be removed by unbolting them. That may be intended to pacify any purists who don’t approve of altering the stock appearance of a classic machine. But with about 170,000 4020s built between 1963 and 1972, they’re far from being rare birds.
Deere will take the tractor on its cross-country “Drive Green Tractor Experience” tour, which will stop in 60 U. S. locations. Sorry, guys, there are no planned stops in Canada. The company will then raffle it off as part of the “John Deere Big Buck Promotion” program. That contest is open to Canadians. For contest rules visit www.deere.comor visit a local dealer to fill out an application. The contest ends June 30, 2010.
Scott Garvey probably wants a tricked-out 4020 of his own. He’s also machinery editor for Grainews and runs a cow calf operation near Moosomin, Sask. Email him at scott. [email protected]