4x4x4x4, etc… 1970s Quadractor 4×4

There are a lot of 4s on this one! This may be something that I bet a lot of you haven’t seen before: a 1970s Quadractor 4×4 with 4-wheel steering and it’s not a homemade thing, believe it or not. This cool and unusual machine is on eBay with a $2,500 opening bid that hasn’t been met yet. It’s located in Athol, Idaho. There were supposedly around 500 of them made.

These are really cool vehicles, made mainly for the logging industry, but were useful on farms as well. Or, more for small operations like tree farms more so than serious big-tree logging operations. But, they could haul a good-sized chunk-o-tree, around 4,000 pounds, with its 32-inch ground clearance. A gentleman named William Spence was asked to invent a drive system for an airplane manufacturer that he worked for, a system that would help a plane travel over rugged terrain on its way to a runway. The invention never got picked up and he ended up buying the manufacturing rights and patents and invented the Quadractor. This one “runs and drives and is all original”, according to the seller. They also say that there is “no rust or damage, just needs cleaning and fresh fuel.” A lot of the ones that I’ve seen have headlights but those would be easy enough to install. I wonder about cruise control, hmm..

In looking at this diagram, you can see where these wheels could have been an interesting idea for airplanes, but it’s maybe an even more interesting idea for the logging industry. Most skidders have 10 to 15 times, or more, horsepower than the 8 hp engine here, but the Quadractor also had a 72:1 gear reduction ratio which added a great amount of lugging power for that small engine. Here’s a great video on SubtleTV showing a Quadractor and one on YouTube. You can see that they have four-wheel steering and of course, four-wheel drive. In the early-1980s things were fairly bleak and Mr. Spence sold the tooling and manufacturing rights to the People’s Republic of China who thought that this system could be helpful in rice production. If this were local I’d have a hard time not snagging it even though I’d have absolutely no use for it. It’s just plain cool and that’s all I look for. Have any of you seen a Quadractor? Would you have any use for one of these other than to shock your friends and neighbors?!

Fast Finds


  1. Rick

    Insanely complicated drive system. Don’t break a belt!

  2. Fred W.

    Wonder where the styling inspiration came from?

    • Brakeservo

      Actually, I think the styling came from a pair of rural mail boxes that gave up their lives for the front fenders!

  3. Jay

    If I bought this, I’d slap a Radio Flyer decal on the sides. This looks so much like a monster truck wagon, I wouldn’t be able to resist.

  4. Blaine

    Bill Spence was making these in Mansonville quebec when I was 17….there are about 5 or 6 of these just 3 miles from me in North Troy vermont.. he was a smart guy and loved old cars also. I had his studebaker grand torso at one time as rotten as it was

    • David Wilk Member

      Blaine, I have to ask you, what is a “grand torso” – and do you have any pictures of it?

      • Blaine

        It,s supposed to be grand tourismo but spelling check keeps screwing me up

      • Blaine

        The tourismo was the top of the line hawk Sold the car 20 years ago and no pictures to show

      • Howard A Member

        Hi David, coming from Wisconsin, I wondered that too. Lots of “grand torso’s around here,,, :)

  5. jdjonesdr

    There are all kinds of cool looking goodies in those pictures. I wonder what they all are?

  6. Navadisha

    Just signed on 20 acres and planned to raise some cash by logging the back portion. This would haul them out………

  7. Graywolf

    A Grand Torso is proper why to describe a beautiful women or to some “Hot Chick”! LOL👍

  8. Loco Mikado

    Looks like the belt drive version of the 4WD hydraulic drive on some my BIL’s farm(4,000 acres)equipment. Wonder how easy and available belt replacement is?

  9. Howard A Member

    This person appears to have several oddities. This just looks like a trip to the emergency room, waiting to happen. No restraints, or ROPS, and that steering wheel looks like you could be impaled by it. It almost looks like a mini swamp buggy. Maybe for hauling saplings out of the woods. Nice try, though. ( good thing about these oddballs on ebay, at the bottom, it brings up several more)

  10. Kell

    I have one of the Quadractors that I bought from Mr Olsen in Edmonds WA.
    some years back. He was one of the investors in the Quadractors. He did tell me that the early ones had no headlights.

  11. Scotty Staff

    Dang, someone snagged this great looking machine for $2,500! I hope that it was a Barn Finds reader?

  12. George

    Mother Earth News covered this back in the 70’s, reporting on a logging competition where this (outlaw) ‘ran circles around a $10k Kubota, and held even with a $50k Holder- German logging tractor (1970’s dollars btw)…
    You’ve got to see the gearing integration with the wheel assembly that allows the wheels to independently conform to uneven ground and equalize the traction.

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