Fordson was a brand name used on a range of mass-produced general-purpose tractors manufactured by Henry Ford & Son Inc from 1917 to 1920; by Ford Motor Company (U.S.) and Ford Motor Company Ltd (U.K.) from 1920 to 1928, and by Ford Motor Company Ltd (U.K.) from 1929 to 1964.
American engineer, inventor, and businessman Henry Ford built experimental tractors from automobile components during the early 20th century, and launched a prototype known as the Model B in August 1915. Further prototypes, with a dedicated tractor design, followed in 1916. With World War I raging in Europe, the first regular-production Henry Ford & Son tractors were exported to the U.K. in 1917 to expand British agriculture. In 1918, exports continued, the tractors began to be labeled as Fordsons, and U.S. domestic sales began. Sales boomed in 1918 and 1919.
Between 1917 and 1922, the Fordson was for tractors somewhat like the Ford Model T was for automobiles—it captured the public's imagination and widely popularized the machine, with a reliable design, a low price affordable for workers and farmers, a widespread dealership network, and a production capacity for large numbers. Just as the Model T helped the public to appreciate how soon cars and trucks might replace most horses in transport, the Fordson helped people to appreciate how soon tractors might replace most horses in farming (advancing the mechanisation of agriculture). As with cars, Ford never had the market to itself, but it dominated the market for a time (for cars, roughly 1910-1925; for tractors, roughly 1917-1925). Ford was the only automotive firm to sell cars, trucks and tractors simultaneously from 1917 to 1928.
For a decade between 1928 and 1939, Ford of the U.S. left the tractor business. During that decade, Ford of England continued to build Fordsons and to develop new variants, which it exported widely. In 1939 Ford of the U.S. reentered the tractor market with an all-new model, this time with the Ford brand. Ford of England continued to use the Fordson brand until 1964.
Fordson production occurred in the U.S. (1917–1928); Cork, Ireland (1919–1923 and 1928–1933); and at Dagenham, Essex, England (1933–1964). Tens of thousands of Fordsons, most from the U.S. and some from Ireland, were exported to the Soviet Union from 1920 to 1927. Soviet Fordson clones were also built at Leningrad from 1924 and at Stalingrad from 1930.