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“Porsches are fast,” they say. “Porsches are refined,” they claim. “Porsches accept abundant handling,” they allege. Well, I aloof accumulating a Porsche for the aboriginal time, and I can say unequivocally: Porsches are none of those things. I’ve been active a lie.
A few weeks ago, I assuredly accumulating a Porsche for the aboriginal time. And it was a able one too: air cooled, rear-wheel drive and of course, manual-shift. It was a blast, admitting it larboard me apprehensive why bodies accumulate cogent me Porsches are fast. The 1960 Porsche 108 Junior I accumulating could about adventure itself bottomward a driveway in the time it took you to apprehend this.
Some of you will say that, because the agent is at the nose, this affair isn’t absolutely a “pure” Porsche, but again you’d be wrong.
Ferdinand Porsche himself took allotment in designing aboriginal ancestor tractors way aback in the 1930s, appropriate alongside the people’s car that afterwards became the allegorical Volkswagen Beetle.
World War II ultimately baffled accumulation of Porsche’s “Volksschlepper” (people’s tractor) until afterwards the battle was over, at which point the aggregation apprenticed out its agent and drivetrain architecture to the Uhingen, Germany-based backyard and machining aggregation Allgaier GmbH.
Allgaier congenital the aboriginal model, the “Allgaier Porsche” AP17 in 1950, and again afterwards the A111, A122, A133 and A144. Anniversary was branded Allgaier on the hood, with a baby “Porsche System” brand on the nose.
Allgaier accomplished accumulation in the mid-1950s, affairs the business off to German automated abutting Mannesmann AG. That aggregation started Porsche-Diesel Motorenbau GmbH, and for the afterward seven years, cranked out 125,000 of the big-wheeled machines—each adorned with ample “Porsche-Diesel” badges—from the company’s Friedrichshafen accumulation plant. The 108 Junior that I accumulating was amid these Mannesmann AG-built models.
One day, as I batten with my acquaintance Andreas—the aforementioned German Jalopnik clairvoyant who showed me that alarming Mitsubishi accumulating aftermost year—he told me nonchalantly: “Yeah, my adherent has a Porsche tractor.”
Immediately, the almanac in my apperception scratched, and I forgot the chat we’d been accepting up to that point. “Your adherent owns a what?!” I shrieked uncontrollably. I’m not abiding if Porsche tractors are aloof NBD in Germany, but I accede the “red-noses” amid the rarest of agronomical gems. For addition I apperceive to own one was too abundant for my aged apperception to comprehend.
After Andreas splashed baptize on my face to deathwatch me from my faint, he asked his girlfriend, Josi, if I could accept a adventitious to drive her machine. Aback she said yes, Andreas had to bushing the bucket.
On a Saturday morning, Andreas and I accustomed at Josi’s house, area she showed us the tractor in the aphotic barn you see in the photo above. The Porsche, she told me, had belonged to her abundant grandfathering who had bought it additional duke in the 1960s for acreage work.
This Porsche-Diesel was not advised like any affectionate of collector’s item. Over the years, Josi’s ancestors had connected to use the apparatus to do tractor things like cull copse out of the forest, cut hay, and mow the lawn. All this adamantine assignment showed on the outside; one attending at the aged and aching apparatus fabricated it bright that the affair was a accepted workhorse.
The accomplished agent was covered in a band of crud (as was the attic beneath it), the bench was torn, the rear tires were dry-rotted, the awning was so bankrupt that it appropriate two bodies to open, a rear lamp was broken, and the sheetmetal was covered in dents.
But it was these imperfections that gave the bright-red tractor—with its metal bandage on the fender to backpack a commuter and its two arch grille openings (one with a calamus in it)—so abundant character. It was breathtakingly soulful, but in an anarchistic way. And that was afore I heard the engine.
After charging the asleep battery, Josi pushed the button that already triggered the horn (but has aback been repurposed to ability an electric starter), and accursed up the 14-horsepower, single-cylinder air-cooled agent motor. Black smoke spewed from the bankrupt as the already advanced silumin (aluminum and silicon blend) agent bound sprang to life, abounding a complete clashing any agent babble I’d anytime heard before.
Single butt engines are alleged “thumpers” for a reason—they accomplish a unique, acrid sound, acceptance drivers to about calculation anniversary and every powerstroke. Combine that single-cylinder bureaucracy with a agent design—also not absolutely apperceive for refinement—and the aftereffect is an agent that accurately sounds like it’s got a terrible, unfixable, adverse agent knock.
But, it turns out, that’s how a little 822 cc single-cylinder Porsche agent is declared to complete aback the automated bang pump feeds it ammunition from the centermost high-mounted tank. And aback I got abaft the wheel, and gave her a few revs, I chock-full fearing that a agent ability appear aerial through the hood, and absolutely grew to adulation that different “clacking” rhythm.
The tractor is absolutely absolutely accessible to drive. The council isn’t powered, but the gearbox beneath the engine—combined with those angular advanced tires—made axis about painless. And already that caster was cranked all the way, the 108 Junior could about-face bound abundant to abash a Ford Fiesta aggravating to cull a quick 180.
From abaft the caster things attending a bit intimidating; the batten aloft the council caster controls abandoned speed, the pedal on the larboard ancillary activates the clamp (which works with a ablaze Porsche-designed oil-hydraulic coupling to abate engagement), the tiny pedal on the appropriate is the accelerator, and the appropriate two ample pedals actuate the brakes (either aloof a distinct rear wheel, or both rear wheels). The chicken batten is the esplanade brake, and works by artlessly captivation the bottom brakes in place.
The accessory batten is appropriate amid the driver’s legs, as is a batten for the advanced and rear ability abandonment to run agronomical attachments, a batten for low and aerial range, a tiny batten to shut off the hydraulic arrangement (which is acclimated to accession and lower a rear adapter via addition beneath the appropriate ancillary of the driver’s seat) and a batten to about-face on and off a mowing unit.
This photo beneath shows the cogwheel lock pedal extensive advanced appropriate aloft the aperture rear arbor tube, and aloof aloft it, a small, attenuate batten that raises and lowers the rear hydraulics.
It’s all a bit complicated, if I’m honest, so I ashore with aloof the distinct shifter in the middle, which formed absolutely like the three-speed chiral in my 1948 Willys CJ-2A, bare a synchro or two.
I didn’t absolutely charge any synchronizers, though, because every time I apprenticed in the clamp and approved to shift, the tractor bound came to a stop, I popped it into gear, and the torquey agent (and all that gearing) got the Porsche activity afterwards issue.
In any gear, the tractor acquainted adequately quick—well, from about aught to 1 mph, afterwards which it began to run out of steam. Admitting the 108 Junior’s top acceleration is technically aloof beneath 12.5 mph, I apparently didn’t ability bisected that, and, to be honest, I about accumulating added than 200 yards. Still, I had the time of my activity sitting four-feet aerial on the aback of this little red Porsche tractor.
Between all those accordance from the engine, gearing, tires and the awning awkward all over the place; the bumps from that abridgement of suspension; and that alluringly loud air-cooled one-cylinder engine, the Porsche-Diesel punished me relentlessly as I accumulating it 5 mph bottomward the driveway. And for some reason, I kinda admired it.
People generally ask me why I like old cars, and my acumen about consistently has to do with their raw, unrefined attributes that makes me absolutely feel article abaft the wheel. It’s their abridgement of noise, beating and acerbity mitigation—things like agent covers, cream amid the anatomy panels, altogether optimized aerodynamics, and air assimilation resonators—that floods my senses and makes active feel special. And if you accept the aforementioned amulet for rattles an abandoned controls as I do, the Porsche 108 is as “pure” as driving’s activity to get.
I’m not abiding what’s stranger, the actuality that my aboriginal tractor was a Porsche, or that my aboriginal Porsche was a tractor. But either way, this acquaintance has me admiring to get abaft the caster of added Porsches. And additionally added tractors.