Ford’s tractor heritage started back in 1917 when Henry Ford wanted to build an affordable tractor available to all farmers but more specifically for small farms and so the Fordson F was designed and built in the USA for this purpose. By 1928 Ford had stopped making tractors in the US but continued in England where a new partnership was developed with Harry Ferguson to produce the popular Fordson N series tractors.
With over 110 years of experience in agricultural machinery, New Holland started out in New Holland Pennsylvania in 1895 by Abram Zimmerman. In 1947 the Sperry Corporation brought out New Holland which was then acquired by Ford in 1985 to form the new company Ford-New Holland.
In 1991 Ford looked for a way out of manufacturing tractors so sold the company to Fiat and the name was changed to drop the Ford name and become just New Holland. 1999 saw the purchase of Case Corporation by New Holland which is now one of the World's largest remaining tractor and agricultural machinery producers.
Massey Ferguson was created with the merger between Massey-Harris and the Ferguson companies in 1952 which has now grown to be one of the world’s largest manufacturers of leading agricultural machinery, and in particular tractors. With over 37 factories in 9 different countries Massey Ferguson has manufactured an extended range of tractors to meet every farmer’s needs. Some of their earlier models include the MF35 and MF65 which can still be found working smaller farms today, it is also a firm favourite amongst tractor restoration hobbyists. In 1993, Massey-Ferguson was acquired by AGCO who are still continually updating and refining the full Massey-Ferguson product range.
A blacksmith from Illinois called John Deere founded the company in 1837 when he started to build highly polished ploughs made from steel. The company progressed through the years and built their first tractor in 1918 after they acquired the Waterloo Gasoline Tractor Co. They had limited sales success until they produced the Model D in 1923 which remained in production for the following 30 years. Their 2-cylinder tractors became warmly known as ‘Johnny Poppers’ or ‘Poppin' Johnnie's’ because of their distinctive exhaust note. John Deere was predominately a US brand until they purchased the German Lanz factory in 1960 to enable them to gain a foothold in the European market making them a truly global tractor manufacturer.
Constructor of agricultural equipment, Fiat Trattori was founded in Italy in the late 1910’s with its first farm tractor the 702. The company continue to produce all different types of tractors until 1991 when it took over the Ford New Holland brand and adopting the new name after dropping Fiat and Fiatagri brands. Fiat Industrial remains the major shareholder in the now CNH group producing tractors under Case/IH and New Holland branding.
Originally a patternmaker from Huddersfiled, David Brown started his business in 1860 manufacturing gears before forming a partnership with Harry Ferguson to build their first tractor in 1936, the Ferguson-Brown Type A. The early breakup of the partnership left David Brown to produce their own tractors under the David Brown name in 1939 with the VAK1 tractor. In the 70’s David Brown became a division of the Case brand until 1983 when they stopped building tractors all together under the David Brown branding by replacing it with the Case trade name and colours.
Now exporting to over 43 countries worldwide, the European manufacturer Zetor started out making tractors in Brno, Czech Republic in 1946. The brand name was derived from the logo of Zbrojovka Brno arms factory ‘ZET’ and the last 2 letters of the word ‘Tractor’ forming ‘ZETOR’. After the production of their first tractor, the Z25, ZETOR continued to develop advanced 4-cyclinder diesel engines with fuel injection and factory built cabs. Due to the low production costs and good reliability, ZETOR tractors became a popular choice throughout the global market where they have a well known brand delivering low cost tractors.
Starting out as Motorenfabrik N.A. Otto & Cie., which was formed by Nicolaus August Otto, the name was later changed to Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz AG (KHD), in Cologne in 1864. Along with Gottleib Daimler they invented the first 4-stroke combustion engine. They went on to produce tractors in 1907 with their rugged air cooled engines which became firm favourites with farmers in Western Europe post WW2. In 1961 Deutz-Fahr came out of a merger with Deutz and Fahr, a farm implement manufacturer. Through several acquisitions and mergers later Deutz-Fahr eventually became the part of today’s AGCO corporation.
The Fendt brand was born in the Fendt family blacksmith’s shop by two German brothers building tractors. Their first tractor was called the ‘diesel horse’ or ‘dieselross’ which was built from old mower parts and a stationary engine in 1928. The Fendt company continued to grow in the 30’s and 40’s and has become an innovative manufacturer with its Vario stepless transmission and Xylon chassis. Today the company now forms part of AGCO and continues to produce tractors as well as combines and balers under the Fendt brand.
Case/IH can track their roots back to 1842 when they started out as manufacturers of steam tractor engines under the name of Case. In 1985 a merger with International Harvester created the brand Case/IH where the two product lines were joined with the large IH tractors being dropped in favour of the Case models. In 1999 Case IH was acquired by New Holland to form CNH Global group, where they continue to manufacture tractors under the Case IH brand.
Founded in Osaka in 1890 where they are still based, this Japanese engineering company has a long history of producing a varied selection of machinery ranging from lawn mowers to tractors. They mainly produced small compact tractors that suited Japanese farms and eventually went on to launch their products in America in the 1960’s with a small 4 wheel drive garden tractor. This area had become neglected by the main America agricultural companies so Kubota soon established themselves as a reliable brand providing equipment for the smaller farms. However, today they have expanded their product range to larger farm tractors, utility vehicles, lawn care machines and even construction vehicles.
Based in Fabbrico, Italy, Landini have been producing farm machinery since 1884 with their first tractor being built in 1925. Their primitive diesel engine tractors wee initially very popular throughout Italy but lost their popularity after the Second World War. In 1959 the company was acquired by Massey Ferguson where they continued to produce Landini tractors, in particular the 2 and 4 wheel 500 series tractors. In the 80’s they branched out into vineyard tractors before AGCO took over the company in 2000.
The French car company founded in 1898 started manufacturing tractors in 1919 with the Type GP tractor which was based on a 4.5 litre 4 cylinder caterpillar designed with their expertise gained from building lights tanks. Overtime Renault continued to build tractors for themselves and for John Deere until the German company Claas took over Renault in 2004. Soon after the Renault name was dropped and all tractors were built under the Claas branding.
Westphalia, Germany, 1913 – August Claas and his two brothers discovered the need for some form of an extended mechanical binder. Together they started manufacturing harvesting equipment and in 1936 they produced Europe’s first recorded combine harvester. Claas then went on to develop a self propelled combine harvester in 1946. The company expanded their product line over the years to include balers, mowers, rakes, tedders and other associated harvesting equipment. This was further enhanced with the acquisition of Renault Agriculture in 2004 where the Renault name on their tractors was dropped and replaced with the Claas name and branding.