The early 1970s was a complicated time to buy a new tractor. In the years up until that date, manufacturers either didn’t fit a cab at all or, if they did, it was a lightweight affair designed to keep the rain and wind out.
It certainly wasn’t made to protect you if the tractor rolled.
See also: What tractors did farmers buy in 1994?
But increasing concern about farm fatalities prompted the government to act.
All new tractors had to be fitted with a safety cab by 1 September 1970 and all existing ones had to have one by 1 September 1977.
On top of that, all new safety cabs had to have a noise level that was below 90dB.
So what would your hard-earned money buy 44 years ago? Here’s a snapshot.
David Brown was one of many companies making tractors in the UK in 1971, with a big plant at Meltham near Huddersfield.
It offered a range of models from the 780 Selectamatic Livedrive with a 46hp engine for a princely £1,341 to £2,945 for the 1200 Selectamatic.
The latter had an advanced hydraulic system and on-the-go engagement of four-wheel drive, something of a novelty in this era.
A foot throttle was fitted, and the safety cab had vinyl cladding. If you paid another £6.40, you could even have rigid cladding.
Italian-made Same tractors were a popular make in the UK in this era and were brought in by Cornish and Lloyds in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
Same had been a pioneer of four-wheel drive for many years and the two models on offer in the UK in 1971 were both four-wheel drive.
A cheque for £2,125 secured you a Same Centauro with a 55hp air-cooled engine, four-wheel drive, a diff-lock, safety cab and a set of weights.
County Commercial Cars, in Fleet, Hampshire, was a popular choice for people who wanted that bit of extra pulling power that the regular makers couldn’t supply.
All were based on Ford engines and transmissions and the range went from 62hp.
Top of the range was the 102hp forward-control 1004 model with equal-sized wheels and a front-mounted cab for £4,425.
Back in the early 1970s, Deere was a relatively small player in UK market share terms.
However it had a fair range of products that went from a 47hp Deere 1020 to a muscular 143hp 5020. Power steering on this model was standard and the driver could choose from eight forward and three reverse gears.
A 1,000rpm pto was fitted and Cat II and Cat III linkages were available. Cabs for the two biggest models were due to be announced and the cost of a 4020 tractor started at £3,400.
Doe & Sons
Essex dealer Ernest Doe & Sons had built up a specialised business taking Ford tractors and giving them bigger engines.
The Doe 5100 was something of a powerhouse, with a 100hp six-cylinder engine, eight-speed transmission and power steering.
One of the more exotic items on the 1971 tractor list was the Hungarian-made Dutra.
The name came from a mix of the words Dumper and Tractor and the long nose and equal-sized wheels made it look pretty impressive.
Dutra Tractors at Brandon in Suffolk brought them in, but the company stopped making them in 1975.
The 8613 model used a six-cylinder Perkins 100hp engine, had 10 forward and four reverse gears and cost £3,380.
Ford was the market leader in the UK and kept the crown for many years. In 1971, its range went from the Ford 2000 to the Ford 5000.
The latter had a 75hp engine, deluxe seat and a safety cab for £2,012.
All models were made in the new Basildon factory in Essex, down the road from the Ford car plant at Dagenham.
However it didn’t have a four-wheel drive model, leaving a handy gap for companies such as Doe, County and Roadless to provide often higher horsepower models for big farmers and contractors.
International Harvester was a big manufacturer across the world but UK models on offer were relatively low-powered ones.
A popular model was the IH574 with 62hp, an eight-forward, four-reverse gearbox and price-tag of £1,679. If you wanted a safety cab it would have cost you £112 extra.
Austrian make Steyr was selling its tractors into the UK under the Kingsbury Plant name and was based at the IH factory.
Top model was a Steyr 1090a, with four-wheel drive and a safety cab for £4,325.
Leyland had taken over from Nuffield several years before and was selling three models that were made in Bathgate, West Lothian. Top model was the Leyland 384 deluxe with 70hp, 10 forward and two-reverse gears for £1,738.
Massey Ferguson was a big player in the early 1970s, with the MF135, MF165 and MF185 proving to be popular models.
However the biggest model it offered was the MF1080 with 12-speed transmission with a price-tag of £3,091.
Polish maker Ursus, which was brought in by Maulden Engineering in Bedfordshire, offered an 85hp engine on its top-of-the-range model and eight forward and four reverse gears. Price was a reasonable-sounding £1,950.
Muir Hill, based in Gloucester, was another company that offered specialised high-power tractors based on Ford and Perkins engines.
The Muir Hill 161 four-wheel-drive mustered a massive 163hp and cost an amazing (for its day) £5,831.
Roadless Traction was based at Hounslow, Middlesex, and made effective use of four-wheel drive. You could buy a 75hp Ploughmaster 75, a 95hp Ploughmaster 95 or the top-of-the-range Ploughmaster 115 a 115hp engine. Price was on application.
Belarus, in those days part of the Soviet Union, offered the MTZ-52, a 70hp tractor with power steering, independent front suspension and safety cab for just £1,349.
Universal Tractors, made in Romania, had been sold in the UK for many years.
The company’s offering in 1971 was the U445 with four-wheel drive, 50hp and a nine-forward, three- reverse gearbox. Price tag was a very reasonable-looking £1,170.
Zetor was bringing in five models of tractor from Czechoslovakia in 1971, the biggest of which was the four-wheel drive 5545. Power output was 56hp and four-wheel drive was fitted.
Price was £1,458 and you could have a cab for £160 or just a frame for £76. Power steering was an extra £60 too.