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Tractor Trendsetters: International 4300

May 09, 2012

Written by Larry Gay

During the 1950s, farms began to grow larger and the tractor companies responded by building larger tractors. This enabled the same amount of manpower to operate the larger acreages. However, the demand for more power increased faster than the size of tractors and some farmers began connecting two tractors together for additional power for tillage work. These early “4-wheel-drive” tractors resulted in Wagner, Steiger, and John Deere introducing large 4-wheel-drive tractors in the late 1950s. These tractors were built with an articulated chassis for steering.
International Harvester entered the 4-wheel-drive tractor market in 1961 with its 4300 model. It differed from the other 4-wheel-drive tractors, because it did not use an articulated frame for steering. It featured three power-steering modes. There was front-wheel steering for conventional field work and highway travel. Four-wheel steering provided a short turning radius under full power. Crab steering let the operator correct for slippage on side hills.
The International 4300 was a giant tractor for that time period with a rating of 180 drawbar horsepower and a weight of 30,000 pounds without fuel. This combination of power and weight enabled the 4300 to pull a 10-bottom moldboard plow or a 40-foot chisel plow. The power source was a 6-cylinder, 817-cubic-inch International turbocharged diesel engine with a rated speed of 2,100 rpm. The standard transmission provided eight forward speeds ranging from 3.5 to 22.7 mph. Optional equipment included a cab, air conditioning, heater, 3-point hitch, and a torque converter transmission.
The International 4300 was the second farm tractor with a turbocharged diesel engine to be tested at Nebraska. In May 1962, it developed 203 drawbar horsepower during its two-hour test in fourth gear. For the maximum power test, the 4300 recorded 214 drawbar horsepower in fifth gear, almost 19 percent more than its initial rating of 180 drawbar horsepower.

Larry Gay is the author of four tractor books and the “Machinery Milestones” articles in Heritage Iron magazine. To learn more about this magazine which focuses on the 1960-1985 era, go to or call 1-855-old-iron.

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