The Cub Cadet line of garden tractors debuted in 1960 as “little brothers” to International Harvester’s compact Farmall Cub series. Originally to be called Cubette—a name that fell by the wayside in favor of Cadet—they were immediately popular and became a benchmark in the garden tractor segment. The Cub Cadet continued to be a high point all the way into the 1980s, a when a financially ailing IH had few high points to talk about.
By the summer of 1980, market issues, labor troubles, and serious errors in judgement management had put IH on the ropes. The light truck line had been killed five years previously in an effort to consolidate the company’s manufacturing efforts, and production of the legendary Scout was scheduled to end in late 1980 for the same reason. IH began the process of liquidating parts of the company in order to keep the core business alive. In the midst of all this, the Cub Cadet 82 Series made its debut.
The 82 line had been some years in the making, and was a substantial upgrade from previous models. There were five hydrostatic models, including the 482, 582, 682, 782 and 982, and some gear-drive units as well. These models are of little interest to us here because they were all powered by Brings & Stratton, Kohler or Onan air-cooled gas engines. For diesel fans, things got interesting after IH sold the Cub Cadet line to MTD in 1981.
MTD was already a big player in the lawn and garden industry, but buying the well-known Cub Cadet line was an industry coup. For the first few years, MTD ran Cub Cadet as a wholly owned subsidiary, operated independently by the same people who had been running it for IH. Cub Cadet used most of the same production facilities and kept the model lines largely intact, though the 82 series, which had been introduced in IH red and black, reverted to Cub Cadet yellow and white with all IH badging removed. The biggest change was the company name, which became CCC, for Cub Cadet Corporation.
CCC immediately expanded their sales and marketing beyond IH dealers. However, but part of the sale agreement stated that they would supply IH with its own special line of Cub Cadet tractors that still wore red paint and IH red badging. As a result, some CCC model designations were changed to differentiate Cub Cadet tractors from those being produced for IH. This continued into 1985 and the time when IH ceased to be a corporate entity.
CCC ownership brought other changes to the 92 line, some subtle and others less so. The one that will be of the most interest to the black smoke crowd is the introduction of the 782D, the diesel-powered Cub Cadet. It wasn’t quite the first of its type, Deere having debuted the 318 diesel the year before, but it was certainly a pioneer in the field.
The 782D was introduced for 1984. It was built in both a Cub Cadet yellow version called the 882 and an IH red 782D for IH dealers. Both were largely the same as the standard gas versions, with power coming from a Kubota D-600B three-cylinder 36.61-cid (600cc) water-cooled diesel that produced a continuous 12.75 horsepower. The transmission was hydrostatic, IH being one of the pioneers in that technology back in the 1960s. The 782D could use a 38-, 44- or a 50-inch mower deck and there was a huge variety of available implements, including snowplows, snow blowers, sickle mowers, plows, tillers, sprayers, rotary brooms and generator attachments, to name just a few.
The IH red 782D is very likely one of the most collectible Cub Cadets out there. And that’s saying something, as Cub Cadets are one of the hottest lawn and garden collectibles out there and a big part of the IH scene. Generally speaking, the IH-built Cub Cadets are “more better” than similar CCC-built models, but the 782D transcends that. The 782D is the IH Cub Cadet that Cub Cadet fans always wanted but IH never built. DW