As the son of a farmer, Henry Ford believed that tractors – or 'automobile plows' as they were initially called – were essential for improving the human condition; helping farmers to radically increase food production and boost their standard of living. Ford tractors were the first to be produced on a massive scale and the first farm tractors to be affordable for the average farmer.
The very first Fordson tractor left the assembly line on July 3, 1919. By the end of that year, 303 tractors had been built in Cork. Before the summer was out in August 1921, the Cork foundry was also producing all of the Manchester Ford plant's cast-iron requirements, including engines.
However, the economic effects of the establishment of the Irish Free State meant that the manufacture of components for England could not continue. Tractor production ceased on December 29, 1922. As a result, assembly of vehicles became the plant’s primary focus until late into the 1920s.
It would be 1929 before tractor production returned to Cork. Almost 32,000 Fordsons would be manufactured before the task was again moved on, this time to the new Ford location at Dagenham in England.
In 1938, Ford Ireland hit an important milestone, producing its 25,000th vehicle since becoming an assembly plant in 1932. In all, 73,000 cars, trucks and tractors had been built at Cork up to that time.