A Suburban Allis-Chalmers Tractor

Once in a while we’d get a glimpse of a vintage orange tractor driving through the neighborhood. My husband knew I liked old tractors, so one day while walking our “loop” he asked if I’d like to meet the man with the orange tractor. Would I!

Larry Swanger’s folks with the 1954 Allis-Chalmers WD-45.

Larry Swanger was in his front yard that day, so that’s when I learned about his father’s 1954 Allis-Chalmers WD-45. Leland Swanger was a lifelong farmer near Creston, Iowa. Larry had the family heirloom restored in 2008 and has been enjoying it ever since.

2020 tractor ride
Tractors lining the Grand Concourse of the Iowa State Fair, 2021

Larry, a retired optometrist, is President-Elect of the Central Iowa Tractor Club. He participates in tractor rides, tractor shows, Tractor Day on the Grand Concourse of the Iowa State Fair, and giving autumn hayrack rides during the local Valley Junction Pumpkin Walk.


The story of Larry Swanger’s father teaching a young man to stack round bales of hay, reprinted from Shepherd Magazine, is in Iowa History Journal, the March/April 2023 issue.


  1. I learn so much from you, Joy…and I must say as much as the tractors are delightful, anytime I spy a covered bridge in a pic, it also draws me in. 🥰

    • Was it your dad’s? I just ran into this tidbit: A diverse array of product divisions made Allis-Chalmers particularly well suited for securing major government contracts. For instance, the Public Works Administration ordered seven hydraulic turbines from Allis-Chalmers for its Hoover Dam project in the late 1930s. During the First and Second World Wars, the company produced engines, gun systems, and electrical controls for ships, aircraft engine components, shells, and tracked vehicles. Allis-Chalmers also produced uranium-processing and research equipment for the Manhattan Project.

    • Larry had it restored in 2008. A cousin’s grandson is restoring one as a 4-H project. It’s to be sandblasted and painted next month. I’m hoping to share that story as well, since the tractor was his grandfather’s.

  2. That really looks like a special tractor! I don’t remember any of my relatives ever having such a fancy tractor. Theirs were always nondescript with no discernible color left hahaha.

  3. I have an old picture of my Dad in front of the Allis Chalmers tractor he used on the farm back in the 1950’s. Looks like this AC tractor in your post is very much loved and appreciated. A tractor ride over a covered bridge sounds delightful. Don’t see covered bridges here in North Florida. Enjoyed this post!

    • Winterset and Madison County, Iowa, are famous for their covered bridges. We used to drive through one on our way home from Winterset, but you can’t drive through anymore–just taking photos. The annual Covered Bridge Festival is this weekend.

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