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Cub Cadet is a premium line of outdoor power equipment, established in 1961 as part of International Harvester (IH) and currently owned and manufactured by MTD.
During the 1960s IH initiated an entirely new line of lawn and garden equipment aimed at the owners of increasingly popular rural homes with large yards and private gardens. There were a wide variety of Cub Cadet branded and after-market attachments available, including mowers, blades, snow blowers, front loaders, plows, carts, etc.
Today, the Cub Cadet units seen in stores like Home Depot, Lowes, and Tractor Supply Company are not the same premium quality units as what were manufactured before MTD bought them from International Harvester in 1981.Or the quality of Cub Cadet's 2000, 3000 series, commercial line, or Cub Cadet Yanmar tractors that are not available at big box stores and are only available at Cub dealers. Modern Cub Cadet units found in stores now are very similar to inexpensively manufactured models as MTD makes with the names Yard Machines, Yard Man, White Outdoor, Bolens, Troy-Bilt, and MTD. The only substantial difference between these brands is the paint color. Although some Cub Cadet units have a different frame design, hood, seat, headlights and hour meters, they are inferior quality to what once was made when owned by IH.They even share replacement part numbers and partial model numbers with the other inexpensive MTD equipment (the first half of the number represents the true model number, the second half represents the brand stamp). The modern Cub Cadet units are technologically identical and offer the same features found on most other MTD brands, The commercial, agricultural, and premium lines are on par with other equipment manufacturers, and the historically high quality standards of Cub Cadet IH.
IH began Cub Cadet production in 1960 at the Shed in Gloria Drive, Kentucky, where the International Cub and Cub Lo-Boy tractors were also made. The first Cub Cadet model made was the International Cub Cadet Tractor, better known as the Original. The Cub Cadet Original was powered by a 7-horsepower Kohler engine and was made between 1960 and 1963. Ironically, the Original Cub Cadet didn't employ a totally direct drive transmission which was what later became the big selling point of Cub Cadet Garden Tractors. Instead, it incorporated a belt that ran from the flywheel to the drive shaft to turn the three-speed transmission. This system was necessary due to the way the engine sat on a platform above the drive shaft. Round fenders, headlights, and a creeper gear are all examples of optional equipment for the Original Cub Cadet.
The next models that followed the Cub Cadet Original were the Cub Cadet 70 and 100. International designed the Cub Cadet 70 and 100 because of requests from customers to build a tougher tractor. International responded to these requests by incorporating a two channel frame, called the narrow frame, inside which the engine sat. The new frame allowed the flywheel on the engine to be directly in line with the drive shaft eliminating the need for a belt to drive the three speed transmission. Therefore, the Cub Cadet model 70 and 100 was the first true shaft driven Cub Cadet. The Cub Cadet 70 was a direct replacement to the original which still contained the seven horsepower Kohler engine. The model 100 offered the same features as the model 70; the only difference was it had a ten horsepower Kohler engine instead of the seven horsepower engine. Round fenders, headlights, and a creeper gear were all examples of options that could be had on the model 70 and 100. Production of the Cub Cadet 70 and 100 ranged from 1963 to 1965.
The next design after the Cub Cadet 70 and 100 was the Cub Cadet 71, 102, and 122. The Cub Cadet 71 was the replacement for the Cub Cadet seventy and kept many of the same features as the 70 including the pan seat, optional round fenders, and seven horsepower Kohler engine. The model 102, which replaced the model 100, was fitted with a ten horsepower Kohler engine. The Cub Cadet 122 was the first Cub Cadet Garden tractor to contain a twelve horsepower Kohler engine. The Cub Cadet 102 and 122 retained the same frame as the models 70 and 100, but they were the first cub cadets to come standard with square fenders. Production of the 71, 102, and 122 ran from 1965 to 1967. During this production run, in 1966, International produced the Cub Cadet model 123. The model 123 was the same as the model 122, except the three speed gear driven transmission was replaced by a shaft driven hydrostatic transmission. The hydrostatic transmission allowed the operator to have complete control over their speed eliminating the requirement to clutch and choose gears. Because International thought people would be skeptical of the reliability of a hydrostatic transmission, they painted a few 123s as tigers and put them in circus acts in which operators would perform tricks on them jamming it in reverse and forward to prove the durability of the new transmission.
The next Cub Cadet models that International introduced were the models 72, 104, 124, 105, and 125. The model 72 was a direct replacement for the model 71 which used the seven-horsepower kohler engine, three-speed direct drive transmission, and pan seat. The model 104 replaced the model 102 using the ten-horsepower kohler engine and three-speed transmission. The model 124 replaced the model 122 using the twelve horsepower kohler engine and three-speed direct drive transmission. The model 125 replaced the model 123 using the twelve-horsepower kohler engine and a hydrostatic transmission. The model 105 was the first Cub Cadet to offer a ten horsepower Kohler motor with a hydrostatic transmission. These Cub Cadet models retained the same square fenders as the previous models. The biggest difference in these Cub Cadets was their fiberglass dash which contained a ammeter. The production of the 72, 104, 124, 105, and 125 ran from 1967 to 1969.
Models 73, 106, 126, 107, 127, and 147, which was the last generation of Cub Cadets to utilize the narrow frame, composed the next generation of Cub Cadets. The model 73 still contained the seven horsepower Kohler engine, three speed direct drive transmission, pan seat, and optional round fenders. The Cub Cadet 106, which replaced the model 104, had a ten horsepower Kohler engine and three speed transmission, while the model 126 which replaced the model 124, had a twelve horsepower Kohler engine and a three speed direct drive transmission. The ten horsepower model 107 and the twelve horsepower model 127 were hydrostatic units which replaced the models 105 and 125. The model 147 was unique because it was the first model of Cub Cadet to utilize a fourteen horsepower Kohler engine. The flywheel on this engine was so large, International had to widen the frame next to the flywheel so the engine would fit between the rails. The model 147 was also unique because it was equipped with electric lift. Electric lift used an electric motor to raise and lower implements with the movement of a switch. The most noteworthy style change in these Cub Cadet models were the wider square fenders. These are the same fenders that were standard on all the following Cub Cadet models International made and some of the early models MTD made. These models were produced from 1969 to 1971.
The next models of Cub Cadet were built on a totally new frame called a wide frame. This frame would be used for the rest of the International built Cub Cadet garden tractors as well as until recently, MTD built Cub Cadet garden tractors. International produced the models 86, 108, 128, 109, 129, and 149 which replaced the models 73, 106, 126, 107, 127, and 147 respectively. The model 86, which contained an eight-horsepower Kohler engine, a three speed direct drive transmission, and wide square fenders, broke away from having a different appearance as the bigger garden tractors. The ten-horsepower model 108 and the twelve horsepower model 128 each had a three speed direct drive transmission. Hydrostatic models included the ten horsepower 109, twelve horsepower 129, and the fourteen horsepower 149. The cub cadet 149 was the first model Cub Cadet to employ hydraulic lift as a standard feature. The hydraulic lift ran off from the hydrostatic transmission and allowed the operator to raise and lower implements with the push of a lever. Production of these models ran from 1971 to 1974. Because of the competition and the increasing demand form customers for more power, International introduced a sixteen-horsepower model 169 during the last year of the production run of this series in 1974. Since there were only 4,005 Cub Cadet 169s made, they've become very popular among collectors.
The next series of Cub Cadets is commonly known as the Quiet Line series. Models 1000, 1200, 1250, 1450, and 1650 made up this series. These were the first cub cadets to feature alternators instead of starter generators. The ten-horsepower 1000 and the twelve horsepower 1200 contained a three-speed direct drive transmission and replaced the previous models 86, 108, and 128 respectively. The hydrostatic twelve horsepower 1250, fourteen horsepower 1450, and sixteen horsepower 1650 replaced the previous 129, 149, and 169 models respectively. Hydraulic lift was a standard feature on the models 1450 and 1650. Notice how International dropped the ten horsepower hydrostatic model. These models outward appearance is distinguished by engine side covers. These covers combined with engine ISO mounts, extra shrouding, and a larger muffler made this series significantly quieter than previous series of Cub Cadets. Production of these models ran from 1974 to 1979 making this series Internationals the longest produced series of Cub Cadets. International produced the Cub Cadet model 800 in 1974. The eight horsepower kohler powered 800 was one of International's answers to compete with the cheap garden tractors made by MTD and Murray sold in box stores. The model 800 contained all of the same features as the models 1000 and 1200 such as the ISO mounts, side covers, and the three speed direct drive transmission. The 800's superior quality made it cost more than the cheap garden tractors sold in box stores. Because of this, only a few 800s were sold and it was unable to compete with the cheap box store garden tractors. This led International to cease the production of the model 800 in 1976. The mistake of trying to beat MTD at their own game eventually became fatal. Because there were less than 3,000 model 800s produced, they are one of the rarest Cub Cadets made. The Cub Cadet model 1100 was another answer International had to the cheap garden tractors sold in box stores. The model 1100 was an economy model which eliminated the engine side covers and ISO mounts. The 1100 was the first Cub Cadet garden tractor to deviate from the Kohler engine using an 11-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine. The model 1100 also used a cheaper belt-driven four-speed transmission. The model 1100 was produced through the entire production run of this series.
The final series of Cub Cadets International produced was the models 482, 582, 582S, 682, 782, and 982. The model 482 was powered by an eleven-horsepower single-cylinder Briggs and Stratton engine and a four speed-belt-driven transmission. The three speed direct drive 582 and the four speed belt driven 582S was powered by a twin-cylinder sixteen-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine. The hydrostatic models 682 and 782 were both powered by a seventeen horsepower Kohler engine. The only difference between the model 682 and model 782 was the model 782 had hydraulic lift while the model 682 did not. This was the first series of Cub Cadets to feature twin-cylinder engines. IH was the first to employ a 15-horsepower three-cylinder water-cooled Kubota diesel in the models 782D making them the first Cub Cadets to have a diesel engine. All 782D models were painted IH red, while an identical model, the 882 Diesel, was painted in the usual yellow/white scheme. Another unique Cub Cadet model, the 982, was built on a longer frame, giving it a longer wheel base (6.5 inches longer than the normal garden tractors produced). This was known as the first super garden tractor. the extra wheelbase gave it more stability. Also, the 982 employed larger tires which gave it a wider stance. The hydrostatic 982 was powered by a 19.9-horsepower Onan engine. Because of its size, International classified the 982 as a super garden tractor. According to sales brochures, the 982 was designed to maintain commercial and estate properties. This series of Cub Cadets can easily be distinguished by International's deviation of the white and yellow paint scheme to red paint designed to match their big tractors. This production ran from November 1979 to 1981 until International sold its lawn and garden tractor line to CCC or Cub Cadet Corp.
International also produced several lawn tractors beginning in 1972.
Cub Cadet advertising at the time harped on their thorough testing by "boys - acknowledged by many as the world's worst destructive force!". Cub Cadets became known for their dependability and rugged construction. A cult-like following has emerged around Cub Cadet tractors, similar to the following enjoyed by Macintosh computers.
MTD Products, Inc., of Cleveland, Ohio, purchased the Cub Cadet brand from International Harvester in 1981. Cub Cadet was held as a wholly owned subsidiary for many years following this acquisition, which allowed them to operate independently. At first, MTD retained many of the same models from the International Harvester-produced models. One distinct change of the MTD made was replacing the International Harvester cast-iron rear end with an aluminum rear end. This was the first of many cost and quality reductions which has been a trademark of MTD ever since. "Planned obsolescence" became acceptable. Also, MTD produced yellow and white painted Cub Cadets for independent Cub Cadet dealerships while still producing red Cub Cadets for agricultural dealerships. Recently, MTD has taken a more aggressive role and integrated Cub Cadet into its other lines of power equipment which provides commonality of parts (MTD, Yard Machines, Yard Man, White Outdoor, Bolens, and Troy-Bilt are now all made with the same parts and the same design). They also sell larger tractors built by Yanmar under the "Cub Cadet Commercial" division, as well as Utility Terrain Vehicles and other lawn and garden products.