In 1965, Owatonna Manufacturing Company - today a part of Manitou Americas, Inc., a manufacturer of compact earthmoving and material-handling equipment - began designing and manufacturing its own line of skid-steer loaders. It was the second manufacturer to develop skid-steer loaders, at that time known as “self-propelled, four-wheel drive units,” starting with the Owatonna Mustang Series 1000.
The Mustang legacy continues 50 years later with a complete skid-steer loader line offering eight radial lift and three vertical lift models. Its product line also includes five compact zero tailswing excavators and three track loaders.
“The Mustang brand is built on a foundation of designing and producing powerful, easy-to-use skid steers,” said Dan Miller, CEO of Manitou Americas and President of the Manitou Group CEP-Compact Equipment Division. “Our task for the future is to incorporate new features and technology, yet still maintain the durability and integrity our customers have come to expect from the Mustang brand.”
A Long Tradition of Innovation
The Mustang brand has roots dating back to 1888. Known in the early years as the Owatonna Manufacturing Company (OMC), it manufactured a variety of agricultural implements. For decades, farmers easily recognized the OMC paint colors of lime green and red on grain drills, seeders, elevators and balers.
In 1965, the company developed its first skid steer, the Mustang. The term “skid steer” wasn’t used at that time, so the company called it a “self-propelled, four-wheel-drive unit.” It was also known as the Owatonna Mustang Series 1000.
Even by today’s standards, the Series 1000 was good size. Designed to do the job of much larger machines, it featured a 30-hp Wisconsin air-cooled engine and was one of the most powerful compact machines available in the 1960s. With a rated lift capacity of 1,200 lbs. and a turning radius of 45 in., the Mustang Series 1000 was used on farms, construction sites, parks and landscaping projects.
The machine featured a multi-disc transmission and drive system that provided smooth operation. The multi-disc clutches had nine working surfaces with heavy-duty separator springs. The entire drive and transmission system was encased in an oil reservoir for cooler and cleaner operation. The hydraulic system used a 10-gpm pump with a full system relief valve at 2,000 psi. The engine featured stellate valves and positive valve rotators. A dry-type air cleaner and oil filter were standard equipment. In addition, the unit operated on a 12-volt electrical system and had an enclosed starter and industrial alternator.
In 1997, the Mustang brand was sold to the Gehl Company, headquartered in West Bend, WI. Manufacturing facilities were consolidated into Gehl’s South Dakota plant. Throughout the years, the dedication to the skid-steer product has not changed. Product updates included more powerful engines, higher lift heights and compact dimensions.
To carry the success of the skid-steer loader line into the future, Manitou Americas, Inc. continues the tradition of developing equipment to match the demands of its core
customers in the agriculture, construction, landscape and rental markets. In 2009, an investment in a state-of-the-art Research and Design facility in West Bend, WI,
paved the way for future innovation and durability testing.
“We are very proud of our 50 years of experience in designing and manufacturing the Mustang skid-steer loader,” said Lori Heidecker, Marketing Director. “The Mustang brand skid-steer loader is known by its dealers and customers to be one of the most durable, reliable, and innovative in the market today. With the roots of the Mustang brand beginning in 1888 in the agriculture industry in Owatonna, MN, Manitou Americas is dedicated to delivering the highest quality, innovative skid steers to customers across the globe today and into the future”.