John Deere completely and utterly changed its tractor model lines for the 1961 model year. Gone were the 2-cylinder “Popping Johnnies” that had defined the company for decades prior. Replacing them was a sleek line of tractors that were new from the ground up and from nose to tail. New inline four and six-cylinder engines replaced the long-stroke two-cylinders and the new generation of John Deere began.

The public debut came on August 30, 1960, in Dallas, Texas. They called it “D-Day”—for Deere Day—and no expense was spared for the 6,000 guests. It took on the proportions of a high-class Broadway debut and a diamond-studded tractor was unveiled at the downtown Dallas Nieman-Marcus store, with suits and formal gowns dominating. Later, 136 new tractors paraded around the Dallas Livestock Coliseum along with the other hardware produced by Deere & Company.

With the New Generation tractors, Deere debuted a 3-point hitch that was touted as being far above the previous generation tractors. This tractor appears to be a factory “bareback” unit, shipped without the optional 3-point hitch. It does have the optional dual range PTO, which could be changed from 540 to 1,000 rpm, the swinging drawbar, a single set of hydraulic remotes, and the “Comfort” seat. Base price for the 4010 Rowcrop gasser was $4,116 and the diesel engine added $700.

By no small coincidence, the debut was dubbed “The New Generation of Power.” Deere had observed International Harvester’s 1958 “New World of Power” hoopla and sought to exceed it. Doing so was another direct and purposeful chop at I-H with the jagged cleaver of fate because “Big Red” was still reeling from its 560 final drive debacle.

At the end of the 1950s, both companies had known they each were going to unveil sweeping product changes at roughly the same time.

The big news for the 4010 was the Synchro-Range transmission. It had a single lever from which all eight forward and all three reverse speeds could be accessed. This gearbox translated well into the higher-power 4020 with few changes. One of the changes was to lock one of the reverse speeds that Deere considered too “fast.” John Deere spent a good deal of time on the operator’s station and it had everything that was needed but nothing that wasn’t. Power steering was standard. Check out the storage box in the lower middle

Their approach to it was different. The I-H strategy was to beat Deere to the “New Generation Draw” at all costs. That led them to a fatal mistake: putting an updated line of tractors onto the market before it was ready for prime time. Deere’s approach was more a measured, “no wine before it’s time” deal and allowed them to step over Big Red’s temporarily prostrate form, take a major sales lead, and hold it for the rest of International Harvester’s time as a corporate entity. Deere went from a 23 percent market share in 1959 to 34 percent by 1964, making it the top manufacturer of farm equipment in the United States.

Four completely new tractors debuted that August day in Texas, the 36hp 1010, 47hp 2010, 60hp 3010, and 84hp 4010. All but the 4010 were fours of varying displacements in gas, diesel or LPG, but the flagship 4010 was a new inline six-cylinder. The gas/LPG engine was 301ci and the wet-sleeved, direct-injected diesel shared similar architecture but made 380ci. The 4010 came as a wide or narrow front adjustable-tread rowcrop, a fixed-tread standard, or a high-crop. Later in ’61, an industrial model in yellow paint was offered. Interestingly, Deere rated the 4010 at 80 PTO hp, while the Nebraska test gave it 84.


A good deal of the 4010’s mojo was in the engine. It was at or near the top of the ag industries rowcrop “tier of power” when it debuted. It was a seven-main bearing, wet-sleeved, direct-injected, naturally aspirated engine whose family would continue on for decades. The 4010’s little bother, the 3010, used a four-cylinder that shared the same design and individual cylinder displacement. In the 4010, the new six would displace 380 cubic inches, but when the 4020 debuted, a 1/8-inch bore increase bumped it to 404 cubes and 94 hp. The legend was fully formed at that point. The 380 was never turbocharged but the 404 was eventually and made well over 100 hp. Another interesting aspect was a 24-volt electrical system. While this worked well for spinning over the diesel, it made it a maintenance and repair oddball that was often converted to 12 volts by farmers.

Among the highlights of the 4010 was the Synchro-Range transmission. It featured an innovative partially synchronized 8-speed gearbox. It was divided into four ranges. You could quickly shift within the ranges without stopping; however, you needed to stop, or slow way down, to shift between the ranges. Only one lever was used and it operated in a straight line up and down with reverse detents to the right. It was vastly different from anything on the market and very handy. The final judges were the farmers, who liked the setup, and it proved durable for the most part. Only minor upgrades were made for the introduction of the upgraded 1964 4020 models.

In three years of production, which started May 2, 1960, Deere cranked out 57,573 4010s, more than 36,000 of them diesel rowcrops. The others in the 10 Series delivered similarly impressive sales. Everyone but the competition was happy with those numbers and history has judged the 4010, and the rest of Deere’s 10 Series New Generation tractors, a whopping success. Good as it was, the 4010’s major claim to fame had been that it set the stage for what is probably Deere’s most famous and best-selling tractor of the era, the 4020. That’s the tractor that set the mark for all the other manufacturers in the 1960s and early 1970s to beat. For that reason, the 4010 is one of John Deere’s cornerstone tractors. DW


ENGINE: 6-cylinder inline diesel, John Deere
BORE & STROKE: 4.125 x 4.75 in.
*RATED PTO POWER: 84 hp @ 2,200 rpm
*RATED DRAWBAR POWER: 72 hp @ 2,200 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed, partially synchronized
TIRES: Front, 6.00-16 Rear, 15.5-38
*FUEL CONSUMPTION: 5.6 gph @ full power
*DRAWBAR PULL: 7,002 lbs w/14.59% slip at max ballast
WEIGHT: 7,100 lbs
*TOP SPEED: 14.25 mph

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