HomePick of the Day‘Doodlebug’ Ford Model T tractor

‘Doodlebug’ Ford Model T tractor


The Ford Model T is well-known as the world’s first all-purpose utility vehicle. Besides being a simple and inexpensive automobile, the Model T could be transformed into just about any kind of specialty craft that could be dreamed up. Just consider all the Model T snowmobiles that were created.  

One treatment from the past days of rural America was customizing a Ford car into a farm tractor, and apparently there were kits to make it so. 

The Pick of the Day is a 1923 Ford Model T that, somewhere along the line, was turned into a handy farm vehicle. These were commonplace enough back in the day, so that any car made into a tractor had earned a name of its own, according to the St. Louis, Missouri, dealer advertising this one on ClassicCars.com.

The tractor wheels and other items were added to the Ford back in the day

“Doodlebug tractor is the colloquial American English name for a home-made tractor made in the United States during World War II, when production tractors were in short supply,” according to the ad. “The doodlebug of the 1940s was usually based on a 1920s- or 1930s-era Ford automobile.”

The Model T tractor was built using a Knickerbocker rear-axle tractor-wheel conversion, the seller says, which replaced the normal rear wheels with large steel wheels equipped with heavy cleats for chugging through the rough stuff. A wooden pickup bed has been added to the rear for toting farm supplies, and oversize front tires are mounted on wooden artillery wheels. 

“This particular unit looks ready to plow, furrow, till, seed and more,” the seller points out, although nowadays it’s more likely to see indoor duty as a showpiece. Indeed, after being restored to its current condition, the doodlebug was displayed at a museum in Kokomo, Indiana.

A small wooden truck bed was made to carry farm supplies
A small wooden truck bed was made to carry farm supplies

“Under the hood is a standard 177 CID four-cylinder engine mated to Ford’s signature two-speed manual transmission with its famous three-pedal configuration for which the Model T was known,” the seller adds, noting that with the addition of an electric starter, the hand crank hanging out front is “just for show.”  

And the restoration is apparently holding up well, as shown in the photos with the ad. 

“Its green exterior over black wings is in great condition,” the seller says. “The tractor’s lights are in good order, as is its tilt-back windshield. The bodywork on this tractor is in marvelous condition given that it’s nearly a century old.”

The doodlebug would look great in a collection of antique farm implements

While a bit off the beaten track, literally as well as figuratively, this interesting Model T tractor could be just the centerpiece for a collector of early Fords or vintage farm equipment. The tractor is being offered without a title, the seller notes, not that you’d want to drive it on the highway.

Unfortunately, the dealer does not include an asking price with the ad, but it’s doubtful that the price would be, as a corn farmer might say, high as an elephant’s eye.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.



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