Ferdinand Porsche had a life long obsession with empowering the people. This desire to help the masses was not relegated to just cars but also to the kind of implements that would help people be able to put food on the table. Multiple prototypes for his “Volks-Tractor” were produced as early as 1934, utilizing a slick modular design for the engine to allow more expedited production of various models with different cylinder configurations. Much like his automotive desires though, the outbreak of WWII put a swift end to Ferdinand’s development on the people’s tractor. Once the war ended development on Porsche’s tractors commenced once again but due to heavy restrictions placed on manufacturers after the war, the Porsche company had to go looking for a partner to license the design too. Eventually, they settled with Mannesmann AG, who took over the Zeppelin factory in Friedrichshafen-Manzell, Germany, in order to build the tractors. Various models were produced starting in 1953 with various cylinder configurations and power ranging from 11 hp all the way up to 55 hp. The Junior 108 was a very popular seller thanks to its very affordable cost when new of around $1750 as well as the economical and tough nature of its little single-cylinder engine. It was initially powered by an 882cc, 11 hp single-cylinder air-cooled Bosh injection diesel engine but some slight changes in 1959 boosted the power output to 15 hp. The 108 Junior’s engine was coupled to a 6-speed transmission, many years before Porsches road-going cars would get this many gears. Approximately 125,000 Junior 108’s were built but very few reached American soil due to heavy pressures of domestic agriculture implement production. Production of Porsche’s agricultural implements ceased in 1963 but thanks to excellent engineering and the tractor’s solid construction, nice examples still exist today.
The tractor on offer here is a 1959 Porsche Diesel Junior 108 tractor, chassis number K6692G and engine number 24944. It is finished in the classic red with off-white wheels. Not much is known about the history of this particular example but it has undergone a recent, very nice, high quality restoration in Germany. The quality of the paint is overall quite good, showing a smooth and consistent finish throughout with only a few spots where there is a bit of a run or excessive accumulation of paint. The metal surfaces of the body and main structure appear to have been in good condition even prior to the restoration as there are only some very minor inconsistencies that one could only expect from a piece of machinery that was likely used hard for a good portion of its life. There is some uneven paint on the front axles as well as a small spot on the outer edge of the left fender that appears to have been scraped and touched up. The tires appear to be in new condition, they are SEHA KNK50 in the rear and SKT TF-8181 in the front. The wheels are in good shape with nice color and solid metal and only very minor inconsistencies to the finish of the metal showing through. The fenders are in excellent shape and very well may have been replaced during restoration but they match the overall quality of the tractor well. The left side fender has a new 7-pin electrical connector installed, but we have not verified its functionality. The plastic lights located on the fenders appear to be new and are in excellent condition and the front headlights are in good condition and function as they should. The small chrome grille in the front is nice and clean with a good shine, as is the strip running up the center of the hood. The hood hold-downs are modern rubber versions but they work well and do not detract from the overall appearance of the tractor. The data tags throughout the tractor appear to be original and do show a bit of wear and scuffing consistent with original items. Climbing aboard this tractor, one finds themselves sitting in a nicely finished seat in contrasting off white seating surface with red back which is emblazoned with a yellow “Porsche Diesel” sticker. The steering wheel is finished nicely and in good condition both mechanically and cosmetically along with the rest of the controls on the dash. Behind the dash, the wiring appears all new and well done.
Under the hood, this tractor appears clean, tidy, and well-restored just as on the exterior. Painted surfaces are fairly smooth and consistent with great color. Hoses, cables, and wires appear all new. The engine itself is clean and tidy with no outward signs of any issues and the gas tank appears to have been refinished nicely, both on the exterior and interior. In front, the fan appears to have been re-sprayed in black but does show a bit of roughness to the metal surface beneath the paint. The battery appears new and shows no signs of corrosion or issues.
Mechanically, this tractor is in top condition. It fires right to life with ease, slips easily into gear and chugs along happily. Although we have driven this tractor enough to be able to say it runs and drives nicely, we have not tested the hydraulic couplings to check for their operation.
Overall, this tractor represents an important part of Porsche’s history. While their agricultural offerings may have not had the same long-lasting impact their sports cars did on popular culture, it’s impossible to deny that the cultural significance of these cheap and well-crafted farm implements is immense. Being able to put food on their tables was much more important to most Germans of the late 1950s than enjoying leisurely drives in sports cars. Ferdinand Porsche was always a man of the people and his creations embodied this spirit. As it sits today, this tractor shows very nicely and would make an excellent addition to any Porsche collection. It has been finished to a very high caliber and is mechanically excellent. While more modern implements would surely be more up to the task, this little red Porsche could just as easily be seen performing light yard duty or pulling a parade float as it could sitting in an amazing collection of Ferdinand Porsche’s other lasting legacies.
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