John Deere Enters the Muscle Tractor Era
Apr 14, 2011
By Sherry Schaefer, editor Heritage Iron magazine
For loyal Deere users during the mid 1900’s, 2-cylinders were the only way to go. They were simple, had less moving parts and very reliable. But for the rest of the ag market, two cylinder engines had been long gone.
The demand was for more power, to get more work done in less time with less work for the operator. Deere knew that if they were going to keep their customers happy, they were going to have to give them what they wanted and that couldn’t be done with two cylinders.
Work actually begin in 1953 on the development of a series of tractor that would become known as the “New Generation” models. From front to back and top to bottom, this new series was designed with numerous objectives in mind.
This design started out with a focus on the 50-70 horsepower range. This was the size of tractor that was most suitable to nearly every farm and would likely be their best seller. However, the company wanted to offer a tractor in every size imaginable.
Deere wanted to catch the world’s attention when they diverted away from the two-cylinder engine and they did it in a big way. It was a 10-ton way, to be exact. Deere Day was held in Dallas in August of 1960. Into the area of Dallas stadium drove a king-sized 200-horsepower great giant! Dangling from its 3-point was the little 1010, which was the size of a matchbox car compared to the 8010.
Dealers stood in awe of this machine which was the biggest thing they’d ever seen. Deere stated that this four-wheel drive machine could plow 50 acres a day with the giant 8-bottom pick-up plow or disk up to 185 acres a day.
While the 8010 did get a lot of attention, it was a hard sell to farmers. A loaded model had a $33,000 price tag in 1960. Since there weren’t any other tractors this big on the market, there weren’t any tools being built to be used with it other than Deere’s 8-bottom plow.
Plagued with transmission problems, Deere initiated a company recall. Ninety-nine of the 100 tractors built were taken to Moline for upgrades. After several modifications including increased horsepower, all 8010’s (minus 1) were rebadged as 8020s.
For Deere, it was too much too soon. In 1960 the farmer wasn’t ready for a 200+ hp tractor. Today every large-acreage farmer has a 200+ tractor on the farm and for most, that’s not even the biggest horse hiding in the barn.
Today nearly 90% of the 8020s are still in existence and accounted for. Even the illusive single remaining 8010 is hiding out comfortably in a private collection in Wisconsin. Although this model wasn’t the success that Deere hoped for, it proved to be a legend ahead of its time.
John Deere 8020
Owner: Darrel Fischer