RANTOUL, Ill. — The Corvette, Camaro, Malibu, Tahoe, Silverado and Bob Seger’s Like a Rock are all associated with Chevrolet.
But a tractor? Not so much.
However, General Motors did once consider getting into the farm tractor business if only for a brief moment and a rare prototype from that endeavor was displayed Aug. 22-25 at the Half Century of Progress.
This was the first time Dale Hall, Mount Washington, Kentucky, displayed his unique Chevrolet Nutter tractor at the Rantoul show, and it drew a lot of inquisitive looks.
The blue tractor was designed and built in 1946 by William Nutter Jr. on a farm near Georgetown, Kentucky, for General Motors to compete with the Ford N Series. It was equipped with a Chevrolet 216 cubic inch engine, and a four-speed transmission, manual shift and two-speed rear end.
Nutter used a 1 1/2 ton Chevy truck engine, transmission and rear end, all common parts that he thought would help keep production costs down. As the story goes, once the prototype was complete, a representative from Chevrolet in Detroit met with Nutter to see the tractor.
“This one was made in 1946 at the end of World War II. It was bad timing. Everybody wanted a new car and truck. General Motors knew they could sell the cars and trucks. The tractor was an unknown quantity, so at that point in time they kind of just let the tractor die because they knew they could sell the cars and trucks. That was a sure thing,” Hall said.
Hall purchased this one-of-a-kind Chevrolet Tractor in about 1990 after it had sat outside exposed to the elements for 20 or 30 years.
“It was a disaster. The tires were flat. The wheel sank down into the ground and had rusted through. There was no paint on it. The steering wheel was nothing but a metal frame. The engine block was cracked. Other than that, it was okay,” Hall laughed.
“Blue was the original color. The gas tank is under the seat and when I took it all apart that was the only place I found any paint on it. It was kind of a dark faded blue color.”
Hall, a retired millwright from General Electric in Louisville, Kentucky, said Nutter also made an attempt at designing a tractor for General Motors in 1928, but it never technically went into production with six supposedly made. General Motors did produce the Samson Model M tractor from 1919 to 1923.
Hall has restored a few other tractors.
“I like anything that has internal combustion and rust on it,” he said.
This marked Hall’s first time at the Half Century of Progress.
“I’m overwhelmed with it. I got here at about noon Friday and spent most of the day just being lost here,” he noted.