Mustang Unearths 40-Year-Old Skid Steer Loader

Mustang Mfg. receives dozens of calls for replacement skid steer loader parts
from dealers every day. But this one was different. The drive belt the customer
was seeking hadn’t been used on a Mustang skid steer loader in more than 40

That’s because the caller — Joe Gross of J. Gross Equipment in Aberdeen, S.D.
— was looking to fix a 1965 Mustang skid steer loader for his farming customer.
Not only was the unit more than 40 years old and still in good working
condition, it was also No. 18 of the original 25 units off the Mustang
production line.

Following production of the first 25 units, Mustang — then known as Owatonna
Mfg. Co. — put the unit through a complete redesign. The drive system was
re-engineered in the process and this particular drive belt was eliminated.

The unit, now with its third owner, still had the original decals, seat and
even tires. It had logged just 339.6 hours in its lifetime. The hour meter is
original and still works. Further evidence of its low usage time is the pins,
bushings and other wear points that are in like-new condition.  

After hearing of the original skid steer’s existence, Mustang employees
pooled their money to buy the machine. Moved by the employees’ passion for the
machine, Mustang general manager Randy Vargason made the deal on the company’s
dime, refusing the employees’ donations.

After purchasing the skid steer in May, the company spent three months having
it repainted and installed with new tires. Other than paint, decals, tires, seat
and a few hoses that had deteriorated from age, there was no other restoration
needed. The unit is currently on display at the Owatonna Village of Yesteryear.

The skid steer was among the first manufactured in the United States. In
fact, the machine was built long before the terminology “skid steer” was even
developed. The unit was marketed as a “self-propelled, four-wheel drive unit”
and was recognized by its lime green and red color scheme.

The first units were designated as the Owatonna Mustang Series 1000 — a name
that was derived from the company’s hometown and original name, Owatonna Mfg.
Co. Since 1965, Mustang has designed, manufactured and sold more than 40
different models of Mustang skid-steer loaders throughout the world.

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