Alongside a host of milestones being celebrated at the Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show this November, enthusiasts will mark fifty years of the Massey Ferguson 1200.
It was the first articulated four-wheel tractor produced in Britain and has been credited with changing the concept of agricultural engineering. It was powered by a Perkins six-cylinder engine, producing 105hp, mounted in a box-like body with a steel-nosed bonnet and integrated cab.
Peter Tack, a long-time collector shared his passion for the tractor: “I like to see and show my tractors in what I call their working clothes,” said the 79-year-old, who keeps himself busy between his haulage company and his collection in Crowland, Peterborough.
“Everyone has their own preferences; I like something different, that you might not see many of, and I choose to keep them how they look after a working life.
“I was looking for a bigger four-wheeled tractor through a dealer. They didn’t have exactly what I was looking for, however, they asked if I would be interested in seeing a Massey Ferguson 1200.
“They didn’t have much idea on its history – but liking something a bit different, I agreed to take a look. We went to the farm where it was and walked across grassy fields, at the top of which were two trees with a thicket of blackberry brambles and stinging nettles – it was in there – so we got to work.”
Mr Tack didn’t expect much from the long-abandoned machine, so was delighted when he hooked up a 12v battery and the tractor came to life.
“I didn’t keep it running for very long for being concerned with damaging it,” he explained. “I got a lorry and brought it home.”
In fact, all that was required to get the machine ready for shows was an oil change and some air in the tyres. “I think it took two or three days,” Mr Tack recalled. “Once it was running, we did have an issue with a knocking on turning, but that was easily resolved after finding it was caused by a knuckle joint.”
Today, he enjoys sharing his tractor collection with enthusiasts and the general public at shows, including the Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show where his machines will be on a static display.
“Be it on display or in the ring, I like to have something behind it,” he said. “I often have a spring-tined heavy-duty cultivator behind my MF 1200 – I think it better shows the machine’s history and purpose.”
Talking about the history of the machine, Mr Tack said: “It won the accolade of Most Outstanding Silver Medal entry at the Royal Show in 1972, recognising its significance to farming and engineering.
“The aim of it was to provide farmers with much more grip and manoeuvrability for heavier work – but there was a lot in its design to also alleviate soil compaction,” he explained.
“When cultivating, other tractors were working with one wheel in the furrow and one wheel on top. The MF 1200 kept the wheels out of the furrow, which was a great benefit.
“It’s a balanced machine with roughly 65% and 35% of its weight on the front and back, respectively,” he said. “It was a clever consideration; when you put an implement on the back it balances out very closely to 50:50.
“All in all, it has huge significance to British farming and engineering.”