The beloved Wheel Horse garden tractor manufacturer was produced by Cecil Pond in his garage in South Bend, Indiana, in 1946. Over the decades, Wheel Horse’s corporate identity shifted several times, eventually coming to represent mass-market tractors that were a shadow of their brand’s former glory, but classic Wheel Horse tractors are still prized by collectors.
The Pond Years
Cecil Pond started his business by constructing two-wheeled tractors that hitched to carts and served as a sort of horse. From 1947, Pond had added two more wheels to his machinery, and the modern Wheel Horse garden tractor was born. Within a decade, the Pond was selling and building several distinct versions of tractor, and the firm had made greater than $1 million in earnings.
New Corporate Parents
The achievement of Wheel Horse attracted the interest of corporate suitors, and Pond offered the firm to the American Motors Corporation in 1974. AMC allowed Wheel Horse to function as a subsidiary until 1982, when a private investment group bought the provider. Operation of the business under the possession of the group continued for four years. In 1986, the investment group marketed Wheel Horse to Toro, which supplemented existing versions with comparatively inexpensive Toro-designed versions branded using the Wheel domain. In 2007, Toro discontinued its Wheel Horse versions and retired the name.
In 1960, Wheel Horse introduced the model 400, which had been powered with a 4-horsepower Kohler engine, and also the model 550, that comprised a 5-horsepower engine; these comparatively small tractors were targeted at the burgeoning suburban industry. Larger 1960s models contained the 9-horsepower 953, that was introduced in 1963, and the 12-horsepower 1057, that surfaced in 1967. From the late 1960s, the business introduced model names, as opposed to simple model amounts; model designations included the Commando, Raider and Charger, with the names corresponding to the various transmissions with which the hens were equipped.
The 1970s and 1980s
Under the possession of AMC, Wheel Horse produced a range of comparatively massive versions, including the 16-horsepower D-160, the 18-horsepower D-180, and the 19-horsepower D-200 and D-250. The C series tractors provided more engine options, which range from the 8-horsepower C-81 and C-85 to the 19-horsepower C-195. The 1980s also saw a growth of this B, GT and LT model lines.
Since the firm came under the direction of Toro, the Wheel Horse merchandise line was altered to include both low-end tiny tractors, such as the 8-horsepower model 108, also large-engined beasts such as the 20-horsepower model 520, that was created between 1990 and 1992 and boasted a 60-inch mower deck. From the 2000s, versions were focused at the middle of the range, with engine sizes ranging from 12 and 16 horsepower. One exception is that the 20-horsepower model 270-H, that was created between 2000 and 1990.