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#6 World War I Changed the California Tractor Industry


The end of World War I marked some changes among the big California tractor companies.  At the beginning of the war, Holt developed newly designed tractors for the U.S. military, and business at Holt was booming.  During World War I, Holt grew to keep up with Allied tractor needs, and nearly 10,000 Holt tractors were used by the Allies.[1]  When the war ended in 1918, however, Holt ended up with a large surplus of military tractor parts.  The C.L. Best Tractor Co., on the other hand, had not gotten as involved with producing military tractor parts and more easily resumed to normal production when the war ended.  The end of the war offered a unique opportunity for the two companies to work together.  “Best had the better financial status, probably the more advanced tractor design, [and] the beginnings of a better dealer group.  Holt offered a worldwide reputation and name, bigger factories and a combined harvester line of 40 years’ standing.”[2] 

In April 1925, when Best absorbed Holt in April 1925, each company brought with it an existing line of track-type tractors.  Holt and best put aside their differences and became the Caterpillar Co. contributed the 2 Ton, 5 Ton, and 10 Ton, while Best contributed the Thirty and Sixty.[3]  Combining the strengths of both of these companies, the Caterpillar Twenty has the distinction of being the first tractor produced by the Caterpillar Tractor Co.  

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