The Empire Tractor Corporation began in 1946 in the state of Delaware. Although they are said to have had offices in New York City and facility for manufacturing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it was in Delaware that Empire Tractor was incorporated. From there two models were built to the tune of about 6,587 tractors in all.
The first tractor built by Empire was the Model 88. This tractor featured four cylinder engines with 134 cubic inches in the form of Willys war surplus engines. This machine also had a four speed transmission (Warner Gear T84), a Willys rear end, and a model 18 Spicer transfer case. It also had a PTO output with two levers. After about 3,000 Model 88 tractors were made, Empire moved on to manufacturing the Model 90 in the middle of 1947. Around this time, some tractors bore a stamp on the data plate that read \'88-90\' due to a desire to use up the remaining plates already prepared for use on the Model 88.
The Model 90 followed up the Model 88 with many of the same components, such as the model 18 Spicer transfer case and Willys rear end. The biggest difference between the Model 88 and the Model 90 was in the form of the engine and transmission. While it still used the 134 cubic inch engine, it transitioned to a civilian version of the Willys rather than continuing to use war surplus. PTO output became single lever and the transmission was changed to a Warner Gear T90 transmission, which had high-low range capabilities. Because of this, it touted a reputation of being able to make fast runs into town in addition to being able to get low and slow for work on the farm.
Also used on Empire tractors were individual rear brakes of a disc nature and a chain reducer. This served the purposed of lowering speed to the rear wheels. Some standard features were a tool box, head lights, rear lights, and a rear belt pulley. On the instrument panel were oil pressure gauges, temperature gauges, an amp meter, and a starter button/ignition switch. They even had a straight bar hitch that worked from beneath the center of the tractor to decrease the possibility of an overturn; this design was patented by Empire.
While these tractors were created with the intention of export, the Lend-Lease Program that was to sustain such a deal somehow seemed to go awry in this case. Rather than export Empire tractors to South American and South African countries, the tractors that were expected to leave the country were suddenly faced with nowhere to go. This left Empire with a surplus of tractors that they tried to sell but had very little luck. Since their tractors were not quite as heavy-duty as other farm tractors, they appealed only to those who had a lighter load to bear. The original cost of these tractors did not help inspire sales as they were priced at more than twice as much as the Ford 8N. In the end, after sales efforts falters, many Empire tractors sold for the same price as the 8N, that being a mere $700.00.
With the prices of their tractors having been so drastically reduced and no real orders for new tractors coming in, Empire was forced to call it quits. Production ground to a halt by 1948 with 6,587 tractors built. Bankruptcy was filed and the company\'s assets were sold off at auction in 1950 with their doors closing forever in 1951. Even though the business of Empire tractors is long gone, the tractors themselves are not. They can be seen at tractor shows around the country and much appreciation lives on in them thanks to those that restore, rebuild, and in some cases still use them to this day.