1938 Minneapolis-Moline UDLX, The Gentleman's Tractor

Illustration for article titled 1938 Minneapolis-Moline UDLX, The Gentlemans Tractor

If you didn't grow up in farm country, you've probably never seen a Minneapolis Moline UDLX, probably never even heard of it. It enjoys a certain antique mystique among farmers, part of a failed experiment which could have taken off if only it had come at a different time. Minneapolis Moline was a strong brand of reliable and well built tractor with many loyal owner and lots of tractors still in the field. Moline suffered a similar fate which befell many of the great automotive marques of the past — purchase by a competitor, brand dilution, and eventual disappearance. Minneapolis Moline got mixed up by White Tractors, along with Oliver and others. The whole shebang went under in 1985 with tough competition from Agco-Allis, Ford, and John Deere. But that doesn't stop us from taking a look at the Minneapolis-Moline UDLX.


The UDLX was introduced in 1938 and dubbed the Comfortractor. It was designed as a solution for multiple problems. The farmer could work in the fields all week, then drive to town in comfort on the weekends. The UDLX was equipped with all the modern amenities - a fully enclosed, heated cabin with windows that open, cigarette lighter, a second seat for your tractor dog during the week, or the little lady on the weekend. You get a glove box, rear opening door, full raft of gauges, and slick coupe-like styling — well, as close as a tractor can get to a sedan. The top speed of this beast was rated at 45 mph so a bit slow, but definitely usable on rural roads. The problem with the whole equation was cost and timing. The nation was still a bit in the doldrums at the end of the Great Depression, war was looming on the horizon, and the price tag for the fancy tractor was steep at $2,150. Those factors in concert all led to a production of only about 150 of the old tractors. In person the UDLX is a handsome machine and the engine is smooth, all the instrumentation falls easily to hand and it's owners are invariably swamped with admirires when taken to antique tractor shows (yes they exist). The UDLX Comfortractor, an evolutionary offshoot that didn't quite make it, but still cool nonetheless.

Photo Source: Robert LZ's Flickr Photostream

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Rob Emslie

That is a sweet tractor. It looks a bit miss-proportioned and cartoonish in the main shot, but I could see the value in the enclosed cab and guess that a lot of modern large-scale tractors have similar features.