Classic corner: A 1980s Lamborghini – it’s no sports car; it’s better than that!

Lamborghini is a household name when it comes to exotic automotive engineering. Maybe its tractor sales suffered by this association in the slightly less refined circles of practical agriculture.

However, it was in 1973 that the link between expensive sports cars and everyday tractors was broken when Same purchased the agricultural division from a beleaguered Ferruccio Lamborghini.

Well preserved example

His company had suffered the cancellation of a large South American order and was on the point of bankruptcy when its compatriots stepped in to save the day. Whatever the cause, it cannot be denied that the tractors never sold in great numbers here in Ireland – so to come across such a well preserved example as this R955 (below) is a rare treat indeed.

Lamborghini

This particular machine has been granted a new lease of life by John and Maurice O’Conner of Castleisland, Co. Kerry.

It was originally sold by their father to a local farmer in 1980 – the year of its manufacture – and by various ways and means found its way back as a trade-in against a newer model a couple of years ago.

Since its return to the workshop it has undergone a major restoration and upgrade, which includes a good deal of work on the cab frame and doors – with the panels also receiving attention in the paint-shop.

Lamborghini

Italian steel of the 1980s did not always enjoy the greatest of reputations, but the damage of many years has been repaired and made good. An extra brace at the rear of the cab has also been added. This increases its rigidity and offers some protection to the fuel tank, which sits behind the driver.

Lamborghini

On the other hand, the engine was in good order – as were all the mechanical items.

The only large repair undertaken was a new set of rings – a task that is made relatively simple on air-cooled engines due to the individual cylinder heads.

Each one can be removed separately and the rings renewed without the need to drop the crank or disengage the con-rods.

Two injection pumps

The need to provide passage between the cylinders for the cooling air ensured that engines of this type tended to be longer than water-cooled units. Longer engines can lead to problems with injection timing and pressures. This difficulty was overcome in these Same-designed motors by having two injection pumps.

Lamborghini

The five-cylinder R955 has two banks of injection plungers about 15cm apart – one of three and the other of two – running off the same shaft. In theoretical terms, it is the one inline pump that has been split into two which helps even out injection line length.

As part of the tractor’s refurbishment, the transmission was upgraded by the addition of a mechanical shuttle.

This was a straightforward installation; later models were fitted with it as standard and, so, it slotted straight in.

The gearbox has four ratios and three ranges and, while the gear lever itself still performs its original purpose, the range-change lever has been re-configured for use as the shuttle control. Selecting ranges has been delegated to a lever mounted close to, but below, the level of the driver’s seat.

Lamborghini

A further modification under consideration is the addition of a driven front axle. The present item is a sturdy enough piece of engineering, but the advantages of 4WD are now so widely appreciated that there is call for little else nowadays.

Against all odds

Against all odds, John managed to source a front axle here in Ireland and had it brought down to the garage. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be in as good a shape as described and so will require a thorough rebuild before it is attached.

Once again, it is an easy fit thanks to 4WD being an option when these machines were originally sold, but he still needs to find a used prop shaft and front mounting block to keep costs down.

Thankfully, spares for these tractors are still readily available from Same Deutz Fahr (SDF) – Lamborghini’s parent company. It is reassuring to know that the same range of tractors was sold in Same ‘red’ during its production period. This alone should ensure that parts are in plentiful supply for a good while yet.

Lamborghini

The O’Connors are now agents for Same; yet the refurbishment of this tractor was not just a commercial exercise. Both the brothers have a passion for the marque (both Lamborghini and Same) and are in no hurry to sell this example.

It stands as a reminder that Italian tractors were as well engineered as any other at the time, when it would have competed with the Ford 7600 or the smaller MF 590.

Its clean, modern looks belie the fact that it is nearly 38 years-of-age; with just 5,400 hours on the clock it may well be double that before its final retirement.

Lamborghini