Rewriting Farming History with Vintage Nuffield Tractors
By Tom Seest
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Tommy purchased this vibrant red Nuffield Universal Four in the summer of 2014. He already owned a Ferguson TO 30 but used this Nuffield for clearing snow.
Nuffield organization did not manufacture their own implements but rather selected and approved those manufactured by other manufacturers; an approved list can be found here.
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The Nuffield Universal tractor was the result of extensive development by the Morris Motors Agricultural Division, introduced into production in 1948, and available in both utility and row crop versions. Production initially took place at the Ward End factory in Birmingham before later shifting to Bathgate, Scotland, for mass production. Prices started at PS 487 per row-crop model while PS 495 per utility version; these prices included only basic tractor capabilities without PTO or hydraulic systems.
Nuffield modified its lineup in 1967 with two new models: 4/65 and 3/45. These tractors featured an upgraded 3.8-litre engine over previous versions, an increased wheelbase length, full square-type mudguards instead of shell-type ones, and even an updated cab design.
Nuffield tractors were designed to be more versatile than their larger Ford and Ferguson counterparts, capable of plowing, mowing, and hauling tasks – popular choices among farmers and gardeners alike. Nuffield brand sales continued until 1969 when BMC’s holding company merged with Leyland Motors; then Leyland Tractor sales took place.
Mike owns an M4/462 equipped with a 3.8-litre BMC diesel engine. He purchased it in 1996 from a dealer who claimed it had been stored for 21 years prior to sale. Since then, he has spent seven years on its restoration, which can now be seen at numerous shows throughout the Midwest as well as Ferguson Enthusiasts Expos.
Tommy owns a Nuffield 4.5/35 tractor with a 2.8-litre engine that he has lovingly restored back to its former glory by installing new seat cushions and bonnet badges and adding other minor touches like new bonnet badges and seat cushions. Since purchasing it as his primary tractor in 2010, he has used it for various tasks and found none more user-friendly than this Nuffield model.
Nuffield Tractor sales brochures often show them in an agricultural setting, as this was thought to reflect their use there. Tommy has used his tractor both for snow clearance and hauling home firewood from the woods during wintertime.
At first, the Nuffield tractor had only 15 bhp gasoline power; although this represented an improvement over its Leyland 2100 counterpart, it wasn’t enough to give the Nuffield an edge against bigger rivals. Production finally began in 1948 after many refinements had been implemented and teething troubles resolved; at launch time, these models would come as both utility and row crop versions.
The new tractors were equipped with gearboxes that offered ten forward and two reverse speeds via a high/low lever on the left side of their instrument panel, an upgrade from their previous system, which featured only five forward speeds and one reverse speed. Other changes included larger fuel tanks and improved hydraulic lift systems as well as stronger hydraulic clutches that allowed rev counters to be added onto their instrument panels; shell-type mudguards were replaced by full square types.
Another addition was a sprung front axle and flanged rear axle to improve handling in response to consumer complaints about earlier tractors being too soft. All models featured new seats with hand brakes included as standard features; customers could choose either a Perkins P4 (T.A) petrol or BMC diesel engine – the latter proved more cost-effective and quickly ended TVO-powered tractors‘ reign of dominance.
Though new tractors lacked any competitive advantage, they still proved popular sellers. By 1950, the Nuffield was particularly well-liked due to its reliability and low purchase and maintenance costs; additionally, it could easily accommodate a range of attachments.
By 1963, the last Nuffield tractor built at Ward End had left production. When it retired from production, however, Leyland Tractors had acquired the company; though its name had been dropped entirely from production lines, Nuffield’s brand continued to exist through small tags attached to model numbers bearing its logo.
The Nuffield tractor range consists of the 4/60 and 3/42. They were manufactured starting in 1948 by Morris Motors Agricultural Division of British Motor Corporation, named after Nuffield in Oxfordshire, England, for which they were designed. Available as utility and row crop versions, their groundbreaking diesel engine was created by Dr. Merit, who had worked with David Brown’s designs before developing this unique engine specifically for Nuffields.
The 4/60 and 3/42 models had five forward and two reverse gearboxes. On the 10/60 and 10/42 models, this was enhanced by adding high and low-range gearing that enabled faster speeds to be reached. Ten-speed transmission was also utilized by 8/70 and 9/70 models.
Like many tractors, Nuffields offered a comprehensive selection of implements designed to do various jobs. While other manufacturers might produce their own implements from scratch, the Nuffield organization relied on third-party implements that had already existed for use with their tractor and approved them by testing departments to ensure they fit correctly and didn’t cause damage when operating them – keeping an ongoing list of approved implements updated continuously.
In 1963, Ward End in Birmingham produced its final Nuffield car, T41481. This automobile may have been exported to Australia.
By 1968, BMC had combined with Leyland Motors and dropped Nuffield as its name. Tractors became Leylands instead, with an alternative blue and yellow corporate color scheme replacing poppy red as their signature hue.
My brother Mike purchased his first tractor, a 1969 4/60 with nearly 150,000 miles on its clock but in excellent condition and an absolute joy to drive. Originally painted highway yellow, Mike has since spent much time and effort restoring this tractor back to its former glory, and it now regularly appears at local shows in Iowa, where it has won him awards!
As part of post-World War 2 recovery plans, the British government approached the Nuffield organization in 1945 with an order to design and produce an all-new British-wheeled tractor. They accepted this challenge, producing their Nuffield Universal range, which first went into production in 1948 – initially using petrol and later diesel models powered by Perkins P4 engines with 48 HP output; for diesel models, this power came from BMC OEA2 engines producing 45 HP.
Production of Leyland Tractors continued at the Nuffield Factory in Bathgate, Scotland up until 1967, when production was relocated to Long Manufacturing of Iowa, USA, selling as Leyland tractors with their distinctive two-tone blue corporate color.
Nuffield introduced several changes to their tractor models during production, such as introducing twin front wheel design and, in 1950, row crop single wheel design for some models. Engine sizes were increased to 3.4 liters in 1954 before the chassis received a BMC DM4 diesel engine of 45hp for increased performance.
As soon as BMC and Leyland Motor Corporation (which owned Standard Triumph and Rover) combined into British Leyland, previous poppy red tractors were changed into two-tone blue Leyland corporate colors, and in 1968, Nuffield became obsolete in favor of more prestigious Leyland names.
Nuffield tractors still remain popular today, which speaks volumes about both their design and people’s devotion. There are even specialist stockists offering parts for these models.
Tommy owns and uses a Nuffield PM4 tractor in Sweden for clearing snow on his driveway. While he previously owned several other tractors – such as a BM 35 1949 with a kerosene engine and a MAN Ackerdiesel, among others – this Nuffield is his first.
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