1963 Porsche Diesel Standard Model 217 Tractor

Granted, rallies and track days are pretty much out of the question, but you can still have a field day with a Porsche-Diesel—literally

Dr. Ferdinand Porsche’s wide-ranging interests in all things mechanical—and practical—led him to include designs for farm tractors in his project portfolio beginning in the 1930s.

As with all things from Dr. Porsche’s fertile creativity, the tractors owed little to convention and much to efficiency and imagination. The earliest Porsche tractor designs were modular, with 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-cylinder engines sharing common cylinders for manufacturing economy and ease of repair and maintenance. Their most intriguing characteristic, however, was their drive system. It was based upon a hydraulic coupling rather than a mechanical clutch, a feature that was—like the simple epicyclic two-speed transmission of Henry Ford’s Model T—designed to be simple to use and maintain by mechanically-unsophisticated farmers.

The first Porsche air-cooled diesel tractor designs were completed late in the 1930s, but World War II interrupted manufacturing. Production was begun in 1950 by two licensees, Allgaier and Hofherr Schrantz. The tractors’ reliability and efficiency proved popular, and in 1956, Mannesmann AG set up a subsidiary company to consolidate production under one roof—the former Zeppelin factory near Friedrichshafen—under the name Porsche-Diesel-Motorenbau GmbH.

Development continued, and in 1960, Porsche added hydraulic implement handling sourced from Bosch, a system that made the Porsche tractors competitive with others using the Ferguson system.

Popular not only with collectors of agricultural equipment but also those who appreciate the performance and ingenuity of Porsche automobiles, Porsche tractors come in a variety of sizes and capabilities. Mike Amalfitano’s is an example of the most popular model, the Standard, with 2-cylinder 1,688-cc, 4-stroke diesel power. It is fitted with the hydraulic implement mount, lighting for use on the roads to and from the fields and a buddy bench seat atop the right rear tire fender. It has been restored to very presentable condition and operates well. It comes with its original German “Kraftfahrzeugbrief.”

The Porsche System tractors’ popularity means tens of thousands were built over the years. Many are still in agricultural service, providing their owners with stable, reliable, productive assistance that bears continuing witness to the creativity and ingenuity of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche.

Known by some as the “VolksSchlepper,” this Porsche Standard Diesel will be an interesting addition to any Porsche collector’s garage. It is capable of double duty both as a striking display and performing agricultural duties around the collection’s grounds—a versatility that other Porsche designs cannot boast. Sold on a Bill of Sale.

B. Mitchell Carlson

SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Brian wrote his first auction report for Old Cars Weekly in 1990 and has contributed his colorful commentary in Sports Car Market since 1998. His work appears regularly in Kelley Blue Book, and also in a handful of marque-specific publications. Carlson shuns what he calls “single-marque tunnel vision” and takes great pride in his “vehicular diversity.” He attends about two dozen auctions per year, but he broke away to roar around Oregon with Paul Hardiman in SCM’s Dodge Viper and Porsche 911 Turbo in the 2015 Northwest Passage.

Posted in German