1966 International Harvester Farmall 1206

The Farmall 1206 was International’s first over-100 horsepower tractor as well as being the first over-100 horsepower rowcrop tractor on the market period. It was also their first turbocharged tractor. On top of that, history has judged it one of their best and it became the gigantic cherry on top of the very successful 06 series tractors that pulled International Harvester out of the doldrums created by the ill-fated 560 final drive fiasco of the late ‘50s-early ‘60s.

Don William’s 1966 1206 Farmall is loaded for bear! It’s wearing a hefty set of weights, 1000 pounds up front and 1,800 pounds in the rear. At 2,800 pounds that’s still almost 500 pounds less than the tractor tested in Nebraska carried. Don’s tractor is unrestored and showing some patina, but is well maintained and ready to work.

The 706 and 806 had debuted late in 1963, the 806 as a serious powerhouse in it’s class. The 06 lines were largely a new tractors top to bottom. It was intended to have a big brother in that lineup from the start but the prototype of that more powerful tractor had a bad habit of shredding its shoes. During testing, the 1206 had a tendency to tear the available tires at high drawbar loads. Putting 100 horses to the ground was a big deal in those days and the tire manufacturers were a little slow in keeping up with the horsepower wars. When Firestone developed the reinforced 18.4-38 tires, the 1206 was finally unleashed. Though it was intended to be on the market in January of 1964, it was still the tractor to beat in the summer of 1965 when it finally debuted.

The 1206 was built to work, featuring a Cat III hitch. Don is pulling an IH 710 semi-mounted plow in hard, NW Ohio summer-baked clay and the tractor isn’t working very hard. Normally he carries six bottoms on the rack but anticipating tough ground, he dropped a bottom for the Alvordton Plow Days but thought later it wasn’t necessary.

The 1206 was offered in three basic models, with a couple of variations for each model. The two common variations were the rowcrop 1206 Farmall and the Wheatland 1206, badged “International”  but sometimes with “Wheatland” decals. The Farmall was offered with adjustable wheel track to suit row crops with a wide front axle. Very rare is the narrow front axle. They also came with a standard PTO and three point hitch. Typically they came equipped with flat top fenders and could be mounted from the side.


The D and DT361 engines (NA and turbo respectively) were, and are, a legendary powerplants for IH. The turbo version was beefed up with a stronger 7-main crankshaft and higher quality bearings, double piston cooling jets, bigger oil coolers, a larger radiator and fan. It was a wet-sleeved block with a lot of extra beef. The original Solar turbo delivered 10 psi boost at full power. There was room in the original Roosa-Master pump for about 140 PTO hp and the powertrain was up for that… but not on the factory IH warranty. No muffler was fitted… a factory straight pipe! The air cleaner was almost twice the size of the NA D361.

The International variants usually didn’t have the 3-point system and mainly used the swinging drawbar to do their work. They didn’t have the adjustable front axle, instead having a very heavy sold axle. They also featured a high platform, chaff guards and round fenders to enclose the driver, and were mounted from the rear.  A variation of the Wheatland International was the industrial, usually painted yellow. Other options included a differential lock and the TA (Torque Assist)… both common options. Less common was the FWA (Front Wheel Assist) option.

The full rack of suitcase weights show Williams was ready for tough ground. The bar and dangling chain are a guide… an old farmer’s helper to plow accurate rows, or other things. Handy for drills that have no guides as well. Save a lot of having to twist the neck and constantly look back.

The 1206 was sold a bit over two years… from August of  ‘65 through ‘67. From there the similar-but-upgraded 1256 line took over. Total production was near 10,000 units, with 8,400 being Farmalls and the rest Wheatland or Industrials. The 1206 was, and is, a tractor to respect and now one to collect. It has enough juice to a still be a working tractor if so needed.

Not a bad place to work by 1965 standards. This was before air conditioned cabs were the norm and farmers braved heat, cold, dirt and chaff.


1966 IH Farmall 1206

Engine: 6-cylinder, IH DT361, turbo diesel
Displacement: 361ci
Bore & Stroke: 4.15 c 4.5-in.
*Rated PTO Power: 112.64 hp @ 2400
*Rated Drawbar Power: 99.16 hp @ 2400 rpm
Compression Ratio: 17:1
Transmission: 16-speed (4x2x2)
Weight: 10,115 lbs
Wheelbase: 101-in.
LxWxH: 158 x 92 x 86-in.
Fuel Capacity: 42 gal.
Tires: Front-10.00-16

  • Fuel Consumption: 7.1 GPH @ max power
  • Drawbar Pull: 10,744 @ max ballast
  • Top Speed: 19.5 mph
  •  As Rated by Nebraska Tractor Test 910

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