History of the Nuffield Tractor - Part One
The Early Years 1946-1951
by Anthony West
The Nuffield tractor story started in early 1945. The British government still
reeling from the effects of the war on the economy, approached the Nuffield
organization to see if they would design and build an "ALL NEW" British built
wheeled tractor, suitable for both British and world farming.
The offer was placed just at the right time, since Morris-Motors of Birmingham
were carrying out a policy of centralization, and the Wolsley car production
had been moved to Cowley in Oxfordshire-thereby leaving factory space at the
Birmingham plant vacant.
An assessment of the plant was made and the site was deemed siutable for
tractor production. The Nuffield team accepted the challenge and arrangements
began, starting with the recruitment of Dr. H.E. Merritt and Mr. Claude Culpin,
two people who would be instrumental in the designing and testing of the
"NUFFIELD UNIVERSAL" tractor.
By May 1946, the prototype Nuffield-Universal tractor was on test, and during
the following three months, another twelve prototype tractors were made and
tested in the U.K and abroad. The tractors were shown to a selected audience
at a demonstration at Pershore Wore in late 1946.
The tractor itself was now thought to be ready for production. All the
refinements had been completed and teething troubles overcome, however
production was held up due to the steel shortages and full production would be
delayed for over a year.
By November 1948, the steel situation changed and sufficient stock could be
obtained on a regular basis to begin production. The New tractors were first
seen at the "Smithfield show" in London in December that year and were put on
the market in utility and rowcrop versions.
The M3 or rowcrop was priced at £ 487 and the M4 utility at £ 495. That price
was for the basic tractor only, Hydraulics three point lift and P.T.O cost an
extra £60. A belt pully was £12 and electric lights and horn £9.
Initially all the Nuffield tractors produced were were allocated to the U.K
with a view to assisting in the increase of crop production to counter the
food shortage. After this though from 1949, Nuffield began the exportation of
the Universal by a subsidiary company belonging to Morris-Motors called
"Nuffield exports Ltd" (initially exports were limited to 5 countries, but
later became world wide.)
The Universal itself, was powered by a Morris Commercial, 4 cylinder side valve
T.V.O engine, type E.T.A, which produced 38 horse power at 2,000 rpm.
The Hydraulic power-lift was well thought out, and remained basically the
same for over 20 years, apart from occasional improvements. It is operated by
two seperate levers, providing 1 lever for internal hydraulics and one for
external tappings (such as front end loaders and tipping trailers) or both
levers could be used for one double acting external ram. The maximum pressure
of the hydraulic system was 1,250 lbs/sq.in, the maximum lifting capacity at
the draught link ends was 2,770 lbs.
The Nuffield shared a few obvious similarities to it's American
counterparts, and these were purposely made. They were : the overall
appearence was quite similar to the Fordson and the color was "poppy
orange", like Allis Chalmers. This was done to instill confidence in the
farming community that had come to accept for granted the reliability of the
American counterparts, and to improve the overall chances of sales both here
The N-U M.3 and M4 had a five speed gearbox and speeds ranged from 0.91 mph
to 17.30 mph.The clutch was a Borg and Beck single dry plate type II AB-G.
The full production tractors differed slightly to that of the prototype, the
main difference being the hydraulic lift, P.T.O and styling. It was also
slightly larger, but apart from that they remained the same.
The Smithfield show of 1950 saw a choice of three engines on offer,a T.V.O
(using the E.T.A engine-later replaced by the E.T.C) a PETROL engine, and a
Perkins P4 (T.A) diesel,which developed 38 h.p at 2,000 rpm ( the P4 was
replaced in 1954 by a B.M.C Diesel) The latter being by far more economical to
run and by far the most popular. Plus the ever increasing availability of this
cheap fuel was to sound the death bell for V.O powered tractors.
This model of universal was known as the DM4, it retailed for the cost of £667
whilst the row crop DM3 was only £10 cheaper.
Serial No's are as follows (stamped on the offside main frame)
T.V.O : M/3M/4 N.T 501 to N.T 15508
PETROL: PM3/PM4 N.T 75001 to N.T 78653
DIESEL: DM3/DM4 N.T D.E 50001 to N.T 57545
Unlike other Tractor manufacturers, such as Ferguson, International Harvester,
etc. who made implements of their own, The Nuffield Organisation decided NOT
to manufacture implements themselves but to select implements already
manufactured that were best suited to the Nuffield-Universal and then approve
them for use with the tractor.
Nuffield Mechanizations set up departments to test and evaluate the implements
that were sent for approval by manufacturers. Lists of "approved Nuffield"
implements were available only from the manufacturer and only approved when
the evaluation team felt that they would not damage the tractor when mounted
In total the Nuffield list had 100 approved implements and even assisted
manufacturers in their research and testing of new ones, introduced for the
new range of tractor in 1950 ( to fill the gap in the engine range).
Since Nuffield's did not have a diesel tractor engine in production they
decided to use the Perkins P4 ( which was already proven in other makes of
tractor) until such time that they could produce their own. It is interesting
to note that when the new BMC deisel engine was introduced to replace the P4
in 1954, sales on the U.K home market were 70 per cent Diesel and 30 per cent
By 1955 the sales were 95 per cent Diesel and 5 per cent TVO. By 1951 the
service hour meter and the hand brake were standard. The tractor came with a
six months warranty.
Replacement parts and prices for the Perkins 'P4' (T.A) Diesel engine were as
engine £120:00, Crankshaft:£6, Cylinder head:£8, Water pump:£ 2,7sh, injector
15 shillings!! oh to be able to buy such rarities at that price today!!
The second part of this history will cover from 1951-1960 and overview the
upgraded 'ETC TVO engine and roadless models.
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