Massey Ferguson 65 tractor was unable to negotiate a Major obstacle

A Massey Ferguson 65 baling hay

After the Massey Ferguson (MF) 65 tractor was launched at Smithfield in December 1957 shipments would begin to move out to dealers and customers in the new year of 1958.

This was the tractor Massey Ferguson would put up against the Fordson Major and the Nuffield which were popular sellers in the larger power bracket. MF held sway among the smaller-sized tractors and now they wanted to make an impact in the medium horse power sector.

Like all tractor manufacturers they had to respond to a larger demand for more horse power as customers strove towards greater efficiency with healthy incomes boosting spending power.

Before the Massey Harris (MH) buyout Ferguson had been working on designs for a larger tractor to complement its hugely popular T20 model. The project was called the LTX – for large tractor experimental – and it was like a T20 on steroids including a bigger engine producing 60hp.

However shortly after the MH buyout, Massey management cancelled the project in favour of a larger North American designed tractor using their preferred method of fitting a well-known tried and tested, bought-in engine.

Taking its design cue from the 40 and 50hp models from across the Atlantic the new tractor went along a much cheaper route of using back end components with added epicyclic reductions from the UK produced 35 model, with a Perkins diesel engine.

Benefiting from the hugely successful and sophisticated Ferguson hydraulic system, the 50hp tractor was aimed at competing with the Fordson Major and Nuffield Universal models. Unfortunately the time between cancelling the LTX project and the 65’s introduction meant a lot of farms had switched from Ferguson to Nuffield and Fordson to get a big tractor capable of heavy draught work on stronger soils. Although the MF 65 was an excellent tractor it came too late to stop the Fordson Major from capturing market share.

It was appreciated by those who knew how to get the best out of the Ferguson system and loyal Ferguson buyers used them with great success. Thanks to its North American origins the tin work differed slightly from the smaller 35 but it carried the new colour scheme adopted as the old Ferguson and MH brands amalgamated to become Massey Ferguson in late 1957.

Initially this colour scheme was red tin work and a flint grey skid unit. This was a lighter more metallic colour than the later Stoneleigh grey which was adopted.

In November 1960 a much more improved version of the 65 was launched as the Massey Ferguson 65 MkII. Among the changes was an increase on horse power by fitting a new Perkins power plant. There was a wedge-shaped filler between the sump and the bell housing on the MK I version which helps differentiate between the two types.

A Multi Power version was offered in 1962 which made the tractor a very capable machine but its higher price tag meant the Major always outsold it. In 1964 it was replaced by the equally capable and popular 165 model.