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Massey-Ferguson Tractors: It all Started in Canada

The tractor manufacturer known as Massey-Ferguson was the product of 150 years of mergers and acquisitions. The company, Massey-Ferguson, was formed somewhat later than the other tractor manufacturers (1953) but it still became a major player on the global market. Tractors are still sold under the Massey-Ferguson name today even though it is owned by the AGCO Corporation. The history of Massey-Ferguson tractors begins in Canada and in the City of Newcastle, Ontario.

Massey-Ferguson was like other businesses manufacturing tractors in that it too started out in the agricultural equipment business. It has a history that can be traced back to three founders: Daniel Massey, Harry Ferguson, and Alanson Harris. It began for Daniel Massey in 1847 when he was operating a workshop in Newcastle in order to construct farm implements. Alanson Harris had a foundry for making reparations and building farm machinery. In 1891, Massey and Harris merged their operations and together became a leader in the manufacture, sales, and maintenance of harvesting equipment.

Massey-Harris produced several models of tractors. These were the MH Pony, 20, 22, 30, 44 / 744, 55, 21, 23, and I-162. All had different types of Massey-Harris engines to include the P6 Perkins engine as well as diesel engines. The MH-44 realized the best sales for the company. Horsepower on the Massey-Harris tractors was indicated by the model number.

Harry Ferguson was a British engineer who had designed a three-point hitch for the tractor that allowed it and the implements to function as one. Ferguson tractors were also known for innovations like single-wheel brakes and gear boxes with four speeds. Ferguson had a few lines of tractors already. These included TE-20, TO-20, and TO-30 tractors. Both the TE-20 and TO-20 offered a 20 HP 4-cylinder engine with four speeds. The TE-20 and TO-20 models were much alike except that the TE was manufactured in Europe (Coventry, Britain) while the TO was manufactured in the United States (Detroit). Ferguson had been manufacturing tractors in Britain in order to compete with his rival Ford. The rivalry between Ford and Ferguson stemmed from a prior business relationship between the two that had gone sour. The TO-30 had a 30 HP 4-cylinder engine.

In 1953, Ferguson joined Massey-Harrison and the company became Massey-Harrison-Ferguson Limited. In 1958, the name was shortened to the tractor brand name we know today: Massey-Ferguson. At the same time they shortened their name, they tried to consolidate product lines and dealer networks in order to streamline both financially and operationally. The company still began to struggle in spite of their changes mostly due to consolidation challenges.

Once production was consolidated, Massey-Ferguson released the TO-35. Both brand names continued while Massey-Ferguson was trying to smooth out the consolidated production process. The TO-35 was an update to the TO-30 but with more horsepower. Finally, in the late 1950s, Massey-Ferguson released its own name brand of tractors with the MF 25, MF 35, MF 65, and MF 85. Massey-Ferguson later released the MF-90 series for large farming equipment. Massey-Ferguson grew to become one of the largest tractor companies in the world and was acquired by AGCO in 1993. AGCO still continues to use the Massey-Ferguson brand today.

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