29 September 2000

MANY MAKERS,

FEWER MODELS

IF YOU were thinking of buying a new tractor in 1964, you had more manufacturers to choose from than your 2000 counterpart, but fewer models. Then, if you could run to a heady £667, you could opt for a Fordson Super Dexta with a 2490cc, 44hp engine, six-speed gearbox, 540rpm pto and standard starter and lights (some makers made you pay extra for the last two).

Almost exactly the same amount of money would have secured an International Harvester B414, although you would be charged an extra £2 1s for the oil. Vital statistics were: 2500cc, 36hp engine, eight forward speeds and 540/1000 pto. The starter was standard, but the lights would require an extra £13 16s.

If Massey Ferguson was your favoured marque, a mere £586 would have bought you an MF35 deluxe with 30hp, 2200cc TVO-powered engine and two-speed pto. A diff lock was an extra £11 and lights were a £10 10s option, although, mercifully, a starter was standard.

Also popular in 1964 was the Nuffield 460. Write out a cheque for £826 and you could have had the deluxe version with 3770cc, 60hp engine, five forward speeds and 755rpm independent pto.

What if you were a power-crazed, hp-obsessed farmer in 1964 and wanted something really huge? Well, there was the County Super-six. Not only was this four-wheel-drive, but it mustered a searing 95hp and cost a cool £2100. On a similar scale was the Doe Triple D Super, also 4WD and with 94hp to call its own. Price was £2450.

But the daddy of them all, at least as far as the UK market was concerned, was the John Deere 5010. Visible proof that everything in the US was bigger than in Britain, it had a 125hp, 8700cc engine, weighed 13t and cost £3700. It also had power steering – good job too on a 13t tractor.

There was a similar range of prices when it came to buying a crawler, although these were generally far more expensive than their rubber-tyred cousins. A princely £1965 would have secured a 58hp Track Marshall 55, and £3400 a 60hp Caterpillar D4C. Or you could have given your bank manager a heart attack by buying an Albion Cuthbertson Water Buffalo soft land tractor for £8404. Made in Dumfriesshire, it had ultra-wide tracks and was really for peat-harvesting and land reclamation work. One to impress the neighbours, no doubt.