Allis Chalmers 185: The Tacoma of farm tractors?

Oct. 01, 2020 • Agriculture

Allis Chalmers 185

Somewhere, one of you is reading this and thinking, “Oh boy…here we go again. Another weird analogy between a farm tractor and a random Toyota vehicle… ?”

Stick with me for a minute. This one makes pretty good sense.

Does anybody else feel like there must’ve been an Allis 185 in nearly every barn in the midwest?

Nope? Just me, huh?

Well, regardless of whether I’m right or wrong, the Allis Chalmers 185 was one of the cornerstones of AC’s 100-series tractors. Allis Chalmers sold almost 15,000 of these things over 11 years of production (1970-1981). Sure, John Deere sold a 4430 every 36 minutes for 5 years straight, but that was a 139-horse tractor in the age of modern power farming. The 185 had a small-cube naturally-aspirated motor that only made 83 horse!

So why was it so popular? From where I’m sitting, the 185 was just about perfect for chores. I looked in our Iron Comps database (it’s basically the blue book of farm equipment) and nearly 20% of the 185s in there were sold with a loader or a bale spear attached to them!

What it boils down to, I think, is their size. The beauty in a tractor of this size is that it can do a lot of things that a big tractor CAN’T…because it’s too big! The 185 is about 15% (ish) smaller than a 4430 or a 1066 (the “big” tractors of the era). Still, the 301-cube inline six makes enough power that it can do big tractor things if it has to. There are still thousands of 185s on farms across America earning their keep by mowing ditches, running augers, and loading hay bales.

Do you know why the Toyota Tacoma is so popular? Aside from being really well-built, it’s because they’re big enough to do full-size truck things, but it’s small enough to still fit in a standard two-stall garage in the suburbs. That’s exactly why the Allis Chalmers 185 was so popular!

Allis Chalmers 185
Click the photo for lots more photos and details about this 4153-hour, one-owner tractor! It goes home to a new owner on Sunday, October 4, 2020!

This one happens to be a lot nicer than your average 185, too. It’s a one-owner tractor from up in Minnesota, and it’s only got 4153 original hours on it. It lived a pretty easy life, too; the former owner used it mainly for dragging a 175-bushel gravity wagon and pulling an 18′ disc in the spring. So, if you’re looking for a really nice do-it-all kind of tractor that’ll hustle through small fields or spin an auger for hours on end, this little Allis might be perfect for you! My good friend Matt Maring are handling this sale, and it ends on Sunday!

Oh…one more thing. It was the 3rd one off the line in 1979!

Here’s a little of the Allis Chalmers 185 advertising that was available at local AC implement dealers.

Allis Chalmers 185 brochure
The 175 and 185 tractors were sometimes sold with a dealer-installed (?) Crop Hustler decal that coincided with some of the advertising. The working theory was that if you offloaded your 170 or 180, the 175 & 185 offered a pretty good boost in power for not a lot of extra money. More power = more capability to hustle through the crops…hence the Crop Hustler designation.
185 brochure
Everybody farms in khakis, a buttondown, and a fedora, right?
Allis Chalmers 185 Crop Hustler
Gotta love the frost green 1971 Camaro in the background, right? (What? You don’t drive your F-body out in the pasture for funsies?)

If you’re looking for Allis Chalmers iron, start here!

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