Harry Ferguson, born in Belfast in Northern Ireland, is perhaps the mot famous man ever to be associated with agricultural tractors and was responsible for the invention of 3-point linkage which revolutionised tractor design in the 1930s. His idea came to be known as the Ferguson System. He originally commissioned David Brown to build tractors incorporating this feature and they were known as the Ferguson Brown. Only 1350 were made before Ferguson went to America to do a deal with Henry Ford.
This so-called handshake agreement led to the Ford Ferguson being produced in the early 1940s in America, but then Ford went on to produce the Ford 8N tractor which allegedly incorporated Ferguson's 3-point linkage ideas. This led to a split and substantial litigation but Ferguson couldn't compete with Ford in the courts and eventually accepted a pay-off, setting up his own factory in Detroit.
After W.W.II, this led to Ferguson doing to deal with the Standard Motor Company in England to produce his tractor which was very similar to the Ford 9N currently in production but with a more powerful engine and fourth gear ratio. Designated the TE20 (TE for Tractor England), the first tractors were produced in 1946, using an imported Continental petrol engine. Standard's own engine was substituted in 1947 and a diesel version was introduced in 1951, known as the TED20. Over 500,000 units were made in the period 1946-56, with a further 60,000 made in America between 1948-51.
The "Little Grey Fergie" became ubiquitous on British farms during the 1950s and the reason was the range of implements made available to complement the tractor. From straightforward attachments such as ploughs, cultivators, sub-soiler, etc, the range expanded to include drills, front-end loaders, fertiliser spreaders, trailers and even combine harvester conversions. Toady, no self-respecting British tractor collector would be without a Fergie, and many probably have one that has been in their family from new, such is their longevity.
Harry Ferguson sold his company to the Canadian agricultural company Massey Harris in 1953, receiving $16 million in shares in return, and the company was renamed Massey Harris Ferguson for a while. Subsequent development of the TE20 range saw the grey-gold variant in 1954, and it eventually evolved into the red-grey MF35 later in the decade.
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