Photo by Cayley Fish
By Brad Reynolds
Toy Farmer’s Big Bud 16V 747s are hard to come by. With diecast rubber tires and a hood which opens to reveal its engine, only a few thousand were ever produced (in one sixty- fourth, one thirty-second, and one sixteenth scale). Collectors seldom part with them, and those that do sell them for as much as $1,500.
It’s a rare toy—and the real thing is even rarer.
“I never really thought too much about Big Bud being one of a kind until they built a toy out of it,” muses Randy Williams, co-owner of the real Big Bud 747, the World’s Largest Tractor.
Built by Havre’s Ron Harmon of Northern Manufacturing (now Big Equipment) in 1977, the Big Bud 747 was a tall order, to be sure. Commissioned by the Rossi Brothers of Bakersfield, California, the colossal tractor was designed to deep rip ten thousand acres of cotton, 32 inches deep. It was fitted with a 16-cylinder Detroit Diesel engine (760 horsepower) and 1,000-gallon fuel tank. The final product was a tractor weighing more than 100,000 pounds.
The Big Bud 747 served its purpose for the Rossi Brothers and was later sold to a land developer in Florida. It made its way across the country, changing hands between various owners, before finally returning to Montana in 1997, when it was purchased by Randy and his brother, Robert.
“We had an older five-and-a-quarter Big Bud. We’d overhauled the engine to make it 600 horse, but we needed more tractor,” Randy explains. “When we got our hands on the Big Bud, life was good.”
As impressive as the Big Bud 747 was, the Williams Brothers felt it could be even better. They bumped the engine up to a 16-cylinder (1100 horsepower), and the original tires were replaced with eight LSW1400s (donated by Titan/Goodyear).
“Bigger’s always better,” laughs Randy. “It’s pretty awesome driving it.”
In 2000, Toy Farmer immortalized the incredible tractor with the first limited-edition model. While most farmers will never have the pleasure of driving the actual Big Bud 747, a few thousand can own the World’s Largest Tractor, at a fraction of the size.