Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: For what group did Porsche build a unique series of gasoline-engine tractors in the 1950s?
If you think you know the answer make the jump and see if you’re right.
You surely know that Ferruccio Lamborghini built tractors. In fact, it was his agrarian-based business that caused Enzo Ferrari to off-handedly dismiss Lamborghini when faced with his complaint about a broken clutch. Lamborghini responded by becoming one of Ferrari’s most aggressive competitors.
For a while, Lamborghini had a competitor in their tractor business that came there the other way, having already established themselves as an automaker of note. Ferdinand Porsche engineered many of Germany’s most notable pre-WWII automobiles, from the original Volkswagen to the Mercedes Benz Super Sport Kurz. Once the war was over, and Porsche had been released from a French prison, he got busy building sports cars. Seeing a more lucrative revenue stream, Porsche sought to build tractors, based on designs he had created before the war. Unfortunately, in Germany only companies that had been building tractors before the war were allowed to do so after the conflict had ended. Porsche wasn’t one of those and hence had to contract the designs out to other companies.
Those companies were Allgaier GmbH, and the Austrian company Hofherr Schrantz both of which agreed to build the tractors to the company’s specs, and brand them as System-Porsches. The designs were iconic, all featuring a forward leaning bull nose, red and cream paint scheme, and with one exception a series of diesel engines. Ferdinand Porsche had gained experience with oil burners during his stint with Daimler in the ’20s, and for his company’s agricultural business, he specified 1, 2, 3, and 4-cylinder air-cooled diesels.
Not all of the company’s products met those criteria however, and in fact one of the oddest of Porsche’s tractors is also has one of the most interesting backgrounds.
From Car Craic:
One of the more interesting models produced during these years was the Porsche P312, manufactured for coffee farmers in Brazil, also known as the Kaffeelug or ‘coffee train’. An Allgaier tractor was used to form the basis of the P312, and it was modified at the factory to run on petrol, possibly due to concerns on the part of the coffee farmers about the impact of diesel fumes on the flavour of their coffee. Around 300 of these unusual machines were made, each powered by a 1.8l engine producing 24.2 bhp. Looking more like a submarine or an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile than a tractor, its unusual design was the result of a need to be as unintrusive as possible while moving through the delicate coffee plants.
No one likes diesel-flavored coffee. Allgaier and the license for the Porsche diesel engine design were purchased by Mannesmann AG in 1956 and tractor production was moved to a refitted Zeppelin factory near Friedrichshafen. Porsche Diesels were built there until 1963 when the factory changed over to building diesel engines for NATO tanks. Today Porsche tractors are far more likely to be found in museums and private collections than toiling in the fields or not-befouling Brazilian coffee beans.
Image: Pelican Parts