In 2006, John Deere was the largest agricultural equipment manufacturer in the world with almost $20 billion in sales for all equipment lines. That year, the company employed around 47,000 people in 27 countries, and was about to celebrate its 170th year of operation.
Between 1970 and today, they have brought out increasingly more powerful and sophisticated lines of tractors. In the 70s, they introduced 36 new models. In the 80s, 38 new models. Then the pace quickened. In 1991, they had 8 new models. In ’92, 6 new models. In ’93, 4 new models. In ’94-95, 5 new models. In ’96, 13 new models. In ’98, 10 new models. In ’99, 2 new models with revamped machines in other model lines. In 2001, 32 new models. In 2002, 17 new models. In 2003, 7 new models. In 2006, 9 new models. In 2007, 32 new models. Since 2007, there was a new number scheme and changes almost too numerous to count.
Along the way, there have been some memorable tractor lines that fans look for.
- The 40 Series. Between 1975 and ’81, John Deere invested $1.5 billion to enlarge and improve their facilities, and brought out new lines of implements. One of the more popular tractors in the 40 Series was the 2040, powered by a diesel engine producing around 70 HP. The line also included the 1640, 2140, 2240, 2440, 2640 and 2840, with correspondingly less or more power. The 40 Series were dominant during much of the 70s.
- The 50 Series tractors began showing up at dealer shows during beginning in 1983. They ranged in size from a 14.5 HP model to one with over 190 HP.
- The 55 Series began in 1986 and all had hydrostatic drive transmissions. They ranged in horsepower between 16 HP and 202 HP, with economy versions offered because of the slowdown in the ag economy.
- The 60s Series began appearing in 1988 and first featured high power models like the 300 HP 8760.
- The 70 Series appeared in 1989 as gear-driven compact diesels. This line topped out with the first 400 HP tractor, the 8970, introduced in 1993.
- The 8000 Series was a revolutionary line of row crop tractors designed from the ground up as a complete range of products for varying world markets. (We’re skipping over the 5000, the 6000 and the 7000 Series.) In 1994, the 8000 Series began and eventually included models from 40 to 400 HP.
In 2008, the company changed its number formula as well as the way it determines horsepower ratings. HP is now based on “engine power” as specified in the metric system by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In the new model number system, the first digit indicates the size of the tractor, the next three indicate the engine power, and behind the numbers is a letter setting out the level of amenities or feature package the tractor offers. A “D” indicates a basic level of features, an “E” indicates a mid-level, and an “M” indicates a high level of features.
For instance, the 3032E tractor will be a 3000 Series model with 32 HP on the engine with a mid-level of features.
Written by Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. First published in 2009. A partial bibliography of sources is here.