Hustler has been building ZTR for 40 years. They strated near Heston Kansas with belt drives similar to the drive on the old Heston windrowers (swathers) Then went to hydros a couple years later. I think the idea was from a Heston emploee but the Heston company didn't want to make lawn mowers so he found Exel. Maybe Dixon was the first to really market to homowners wiht their cone drive. I think the Hustlers have always been geared for commerecial use.
Huster. I had to do a history of a vehicle in high school. So i did ZTRs. Hustler was the first. Then came every body else. They claim husters never die. I know of a bone yard in sliversprings, MD that has a couple.