When I was a kid, we usually put in a large garden,each year.
It wasn't a hobby,as today,.it was needed ,to get us through the winter!
Each year,I would look at the new models of garden tractors,...so beautiful.
Lawn tractors,at the time were simply ,and literally,a riding MOWER,and most had wheels of hard rubber,and about 6 inches in diameter.
OH,...but the GARDEN tractors,...!
Wheels from 12 inches,to 23 inches!
4,5,6,or even 8 gears !
Torque enough to pull a turning plow,or even get you out of the mud!
WOW! Mowing decks,gang mowers,snow blades and snow throwers,snow cabs,back blades,leveling blades,tillers,...the list went on ,and on !
It was a tractor lover's DREAM !
I would have given my eye teeth,for a Case 446,a Jacobsen 100,or Ford/Jacoben 195,or a Cub,AC,etc.!
Well around 1980,people started losing interest in gardens,and they usually had a snow thrower to clear the drive,or sidewalk.
As for mowing, they just wanted it to get done,quickly,without spending a lot of money on a tractor.
The manufacturers saw a market ,for cheaper, lighter equipment,and some companies were bought out by others.
JD came out with a"box store" line...inexpensive but still carrying the Deere name,and others soon followed suit.
You see them ,every day,at Lowes,Home Depot,Walmart,etc.
However,rather than make these units themselves,they farmed them out to Roper/AYP,MTD,and others,to save costs.
They were,..and still are way below the quality the brands normally made.
Most last just beyond their warranty,but one widely known exception,was the Sabre,with John Deere's name,on it.
It was so plagued by failures,they only made it from 1995 to 2002.
Many never lasted more than 5 years,before major problems(usually steering,or trans ),would occur that cost more than it was worth !
Some,even today,have the same quality,or lack of quality,as it were.
Husqvarna,JD,Cub Cadet,to name a few.
It used to be,that if the steering bushings failed,you could get them, metal,or plastic.
Now,you have to buy the COMPLETE axle assembly.
So, along with lower prices, we also got poorer quality.
Most people buy them,use them up,and buy another.
Yet, occasionally,you see one of the old "Glory Days" tractors,still chugging away.and working hard,and you know that it's owned by a tractor LOVER!