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Our Heritage

For Massey Ferguson, the eighties was a challenging time, requiring exceptionally hard work to struggle against the decline in demand for agricultural machinery… followed by an impressive fight back in MF’s inimitable style! Massey Ferguson’s direct market coverage spanned 190 countries by 1980.

Brazil experienced strong demand for the new MF 295 and MF 296 tractors as well as the MF 5650 combine, and sales here rose by 10%. Farm machinery and engine activities merged to form a new joint company called Massey-Ferguson Perkins SA.

In Australia, MF’s 305 Cane Harvester continued its success, while in Europe combine harvester production was transferred and implemented successfully from Kilmarnock, Scotland to Marquette, France.

Massey Ferguson had to recover from its most difficult financial year.

In 1981 the MF distribution network was by now one of the largest, most extensive in the industry and despite the poor state of agricultural business, MF maintained its position as the largest tractor producer in the Western World.

Steps were made to improve North America’s product line, and a new series of large combines was produced in Canada including the MF 860 & MF 850 self-propelled models.

In Europe three new industrial machinery products were introduced, one of which was the MF 300C crawler loader.

This year MF celebrated 50 years as a manufacturer of four wheel drive tractors.

Massey Ferguson began its ascent back in the industry in 1982.

More than 23 new or improved products were released over the year, including the MF 200 series and the MF 600 series tractors, the new MF 2640 and the MF 665 combine.

North America increased its share on all major machines, and market share on tractors and combines increased in Canada. At Brantford, Canada the MF 850 combine fitted with microcomputers was produced under trial.

In the UK, market share was up. The MF 600 series of tractors was launched, as was the MF 50D backhoe loader, which was produced in Manchester. Coventry’s Banner Lane plant produced its 2.5 millionth tractor, which was a record for European tractor plants. During ’82 MF accounted for almost half of the total industry production of tractors in the UK.

In 1983, a year after unemployment in the UK reached a post-war record, Massey Ferguson’s average number of employees was 23,751.
This year, fresh sales momentum was created in Europe as the new MF 800 series of high performance combines was introduced, and rough terrain forks were launched in France.

Significant sales of the MF 2000 tractor in 1983 were largely due to the enthusiastic response to the MF 2720 at the World Ploughing match in Zimbabwe.

The engines division of the company saw production rise in Pakistan, Argentina and Poland, while manufacturing activity at the Sunshine plant in Australia more than doubled.

In 1984, after eight years of decline, industry sales of agricultural tractors improved, and Massey Ferguson was no exception. 
The ‘Powershuttle’ was made available for all industrial machinery models launched in 84. It allowed a soft shift from forward to reverse at full power with an electronic control, and was offered on models such as the MF 50HX backhoe loader and the MF 30E industrial tractor.
The MF family of compact tractors was introduced in new markets, and the largest unit of the range, the MF 1040 appeared for the first time in NA. Late in ’84, a new range of special purpose tractors designed to meet requirements of vineyard, fruit and vegetable farmers entered production in Italy.

To commemorate 100 years since the birth of Harry Ferguson, a search began to find the World’s oldest working tractor – it was found in Ontario, Canada. Produced in approximately 1918, the Massey-Harris No. 2 was still being used for ploughing and running a hammer mill in 1984!

The large square baler prototype was exhibited for the first time in 1985, and the following year MF launched the MF 3000/3600 tractor series, its most highly computerised range of tractors.

Amidst difficult world market conditions, the export performance of British tractor operations resulted in a Queen’s Award in the 1986 Series for Massey Ferguson (UK) Ltd.

In 1987 MF sales rose by 27%, and for the 25th consecutive year Massey Ferguson was the bestselling agricultural tractor in the western world.

More additions were made to MF’s industrial range of tractors in 1988, with the introduction of the S series. This year saw the closure of Brantford’s combine plant.

Massey Ferguson was awarded a silver medal at SIMA agricultural show in Paris in ’89, in recognition of further developments in the computerised Datatronic system.

Elsewhere in Europe the new MF 34 combine joined the existing MF 38.