Matts’ 1958 Ford 961 featured in Castalia

 

 

 

 

CUTLINE: Clermont’s Albert Matt leads the Castalia Tractor Day parade on his 1958 Ford 961 with his grandson Brady Williams at his side on Sunday. The Ford was the featured tractor for the 21st annual event. (Becky Walz photo)

 
 
 

 

 

Matts’ 1958 Ford 961 featured in Castalia

 

Sharon Drahn
Contributing Writer

 

The 1958 Ford 961 was bought by the Matt family in the mid-1970’s, used everyday and has now become something the family can be proud of as it led the tractor parade down Highway 52 in Sunday’s Tractor Days Parade in Castalia. 

Co-owner Albert Matt said, “We always called it ‘Mom’s Tractor’ as she used money she had saved to pay for it.”

The tractor, the Matt men explained, was originally purchased new from Gordon Lawson by Laird Cline. 

John Matt noted, “The house where my parents now live in Clermont and where the tractor is housed was originally owned by Laird Cline’s mother. So I guess the tractor has come full circle.”

These 961 tractors were made following the Korean War, and since many families were struggling financially, most of the tractors were made without many extra features. This one, however, had all the options available including power steering, live PTO, live hydraulics, a three-point hitch and wide front end.

The 961 was used by the Matt family every day on the farm during the ‘70s and ‘80s. 

John said, “I was five when it first came to the farm. It was used for everything as it was dependable and started every day, even on the coldest days. We used it to rake hay, feed cattle, and many other jobs.”

While the recent tractor restoration was a joint effort between father and son, John said, “I originally painted the tractor when I was in FFA at Valley High School in 1985. I made quite a few mistakes the first time around as I got paint on the tires and painted over grease. I was much more careful this time around.”

He added, “When cleaning up the paint I got on the tires all those years ago, we found stamping on the tires which determined they were the original tires and were made from rubber that had been rationed during and after World War II and the Korean Conflict.”

Most recently, the men have completed restored the vehicle, including overhauling the engine, transmission, radiator, and brakes, and updating the lights.

Albert said, “It had been sitting in the shed for five years before we started the restoration in October 2012 but it has been a long process. We had trouble finding some of the parts as they are pretty rare.”

When reflecting on the project, John said, “Everybody who knows me, knows I am a John Deere guy, but this little tractor is pretty special. It is the only Ford tractor we have had. It is a great little tractor, and to make it even more special, it now has a John Deere battery.”

 

 

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