13 December 1996

TRACTOR TREASURES

More farm machinery makers are recognising the growing interest in historical tractors and equipment. Peter Hill checks out what collections the tractor makers have, and where they can be seen

DEPENDING on their particular culture and historical background, tractor manufacturers tend to take different views on the value of collecting and displaying significant models from their past.

Some dont bother. Others gather them up but keep them tucked away somewhere quiet. Then there are those who not only take pride in acquiring landmark models but also encourage visitors to pore over them.

At present, the best collection is the heritage centre at Massey Fergusons Banner Lane factory in Coventry. Spurred by the companys 50th anniversary celebrations and the enthusiasm of the Friends of Ferguson Heritage organisation, MF is creating a presentation in which key tractors are displayed in the realistic settings used for the excellent Royal Show exhibition.

John Burge, MF materials buyer and secretary of the Friends, says the fact that the organisation has gathered 5000 members in just 21/2 years is an illustration of just how much interest there is in the tractors. The centre will display seven tractors against backdrops that put the tractors into a far more interesting setting than the usual static line-up.

Ferguson TE20 build 001 takes pride of place in the entrance against a sepia picture of Fergusons coming off the production line.

Other key tractors on display include the North Pole expedition half-track TE20, and an MF590, representing the first MF four-wheel drive production model. Photographs and document reproductions will add further interest and flavour to the exhibits.

With a somewhat more complex heritage to relate, Italian manufacturer Same Deutz-Fahr has also refurbished its display with a stylish cobbled floor museum at the groups manufacturing headquarters in Treviglio near Milan in which Deutz and Fahr tractors (as well as early Fahr combines) sit alongside historic models from the Same, Lamborghini and Hurlimann marques.

A Centauro, the first Same model sold in Britain, and a 1926 Cassani (named after Sames founder, Francesco Cassani) are in the line-up and there are extensive photographs and reproductions of brochures and advertisements to add flavour to the display.

John Deeres European interests began to take off with the acquisition of the Lanz business and so, naturally enough, Lanz tractors feature in the collection maintained at the companys Mannheim tractor plant in Germany. The Mannheim display includes a cutaway Lanz Bulldog and works its way through the years to a tractor of rather more recent vintage.

German market leader Fendt started out producing a self-propelled mower in 1928 before moving on to tractors proper and the collection at the Marktoberdorf factory in Bavaria covers this early period as well as later development.

Most significant model in the eight-tractor display is the 6hp Fendt Diesel-Ross (diesel-horse) of 1930 which the company maintains was the first small diesel-engined tractor produced in Europe. Others include an example of Fendts unique Toolcarrier from 1955 and a 1961 Fendt Farmer 2.

Some 15,000 to 20,000 visitors a year see the small museum collection and photographs display during visits to the factory, and documents can be viewed by special arrangement.

There is a more informal collection of Valmet tractors at the Suolahti plant of Sisu Tractors in Finland. They include a Valmet 33D of 1957, the first diesel model from the manufacturer, and a Valmet 565 of 1964, alongside Volvo BM Valmet and Steyr-Valmet prototypes.

A collection of similar size, but including several machines from much earlier years, reflects Landinis story as a manufacturer of wheeled and tracked tractors which began in 1884, with the five-tractor collection at the companys works in Fabbrico, Italy representing some of the milestones.

Visitors to the Case plant at Doncaster will find a display comprising Farmall BM, Ferguson-Brown and Case LA tractors in the main assembly area, shortly to be joined by an International B275 currently being restored.While in Steyrs tractor display room at St Valentin, Austria, a newly and painstakingly restored early model reminds visitors of the companys beginnings in the late 1940s.

Renault also has a collection of 10 or so old tractors but, while a few are informally displayed at the Le Mans factory in France, the rest are scattered at different locations. There are plans to create a small museum at the plant, apparently, so that the companys history in agriculture can be reflected in a proper display of tractors, documents and films.

New Holland has been too busy with the enormous task of bringing its two former selves (the Ford and Fiat tractor businesses) together to worry about establishing a historic tractor collection. Neither Fordsons nor Fiats feature in the companys assets, though one or two examples of Fiats historic tractors can be seen in the Fiat group museum in Milan.

Among the most comprehensive collections of Ford and Fordson tractors is held by the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village at Dearborn, Michigan, USA. Not all tractors in the collection are displayed but those that are can be viewed daily simply by visiting the museum.

The value of the Ford heritage is not something lost on New Holland, particularly in Britain, where the success of the vast Fordson 500 event earlier this year has spawned thoughts of a display of historical hardware, perhaps at the Basildon plant in Essex.

Back in North America, Deere & Co has a 50-strong collection of historically-significant tractors, some of which are displayed at the companys corporate headquarters at Moline, Iowa. These include a couple of Waterloo Boy tractors, a Lanz Bulldog and a couple of cut-aways used previously for promotional and exhibition purposes.

Most significant exhibit is reckoned to be a replica Froelich, one of the first successful tractors produced.

1964 Valmet 565 (left) and a 1957 Valmet 33D are among the six tractors of historical interest at Sisus Suolahti plant in Finland.

Left: Built in 1907, this is Henry Fords first prototype tractor which is currently displayed at the Dearborn Museum in Michigan. Picture courtesy of the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.

Above:Cobblestones, subdued lighting and extensive reproductions of brochures and advertisements create a relaxed atmosphere at the Same Deutz-Fahr Group museum in Treviglio, Italy.

Tractor from MFs collection on display at the Coventry factory museum is shown in realistic setting, including operator and his best friend.

Fendt Diesel-Horse F22 with sickle bar mower – cutting grass was a primary task for such machines.


WHERE TO FIND THEM

Deere & Co, John Deere Road, Moline, Iowa, USA. Tel: 00 1 309 765 4714; fax: 00 1 309 765 5083. Some tractors on display at company headquarters. No need for appointment.

Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, 20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, Michigan, USA. Tel: 00 1 313 271 1620; fax: 00 1 313 271 1210. Collection of Ford and other tractors, some forming historical agriculture display. Open daily.

John Deere, Mannheim, Germany. Tel: 00 49 621 8291236; fax: 00 49 621 829 1238. C Nagler. Collection of Lanz and John Deere tractors, including cut-away Lanz Bulldog. Individual and group visits by appointment.

Landini spA, Via Matteotti 7, Fabbrico, Regimilio, Italy. Tel: 00 39 522-656211; fax: 00 39 522-656378. Roberto Pietri. Collection of five tractors at the factory. Visits by appointment.

Massey Ferguson, Banner Lane, Coventry, Warwicks. Tel: 01203 852656; fax: 01203 851282. Pam Norman. Seven-tractor collection of classic MF tractors, artefacts and documents. Visits by appointment.

Same Deutz-Fahr Group, Via F Cassani, Treviglio, Bergamo, Italy. Tel: 00 39 363 421 638; fax: 00 39 363 421 446. Giuseppe Natoli. Small museum containing Same, Lamborghini, Hurlimann, Deutz and Fahr tractors, and Fahr combine. Engines and documents also displayed. Visits by appointment.

Sisu Tractors Inc, Suolahti, Finland. Tel: 00 358 14 549 111; fax: 00 358 14 549 1386. Ms Tuula Hirvela. Small collection of Valmet tractors. Visits by appointment.

Xaver Fendt & Co, Johann-Georg-Fendt-Strasse 4, Marktoberdorf, Germany. Tel: 00 49 834 277583; fax: 00 49 834 277332. Markus Kaltenmair. Collection of eight tractors in small museum display with photographs. Individual or group visits by appointment.