Video: At the wheel of an unusual but cherished classic in Kildare

AgriLand travelled to Co. Kildare to meet a man who’s enthusiastic about his cherished MB Trac 1300 – a ‘systems tractor’ that was a mysterious oddity (and a tractor that many aspired to) back in the 1980s.

John W Anderson spoke to Nigel Humphries (pictured below) – the tillage farmer and contractor who now owns the machine. Interestingly, he rents a yard from the farmer who originally bought the machine new back in 1985 – from Hughes Brothers of Kilcock.

Nigel explained: “They traded an International 884 in against it – so the MB Trac was a big step up. The acreage of the farm was increasing, so a bigger tractor was needed – mainly for ploughing and haulage work.

“It was a pretty impressive tractor back then; it still is today.

“This tractor is still in regular use. I use it for spraying, spreading fertiliser, ploughing, power harrowing and haulage work. It’s pretty leisurely what it’s doing now but it’s still well able to keep up with the rest of the stuff I have.

“It pulls a four-furrow reversible – no bother to it.”

He added: “It has serious torque. When it dies off it instantly picks back up again – [especially] for an old tractor, which is pretty impressive.

“It’s quite nice to drive if a little tiresome; it’s heavy on the left leg. A lot of steering is involved from lock to lock.”

Nigel went on to explain that he bought the tractor in 2007, saying: “I’d always wanted one. I even had the Britains toy [version].

I’m passionate enough about the tractor. It’s a lovely place to spend the day – but not so nice to spend the week. It can be noisy.

“On the road it’s fast; it’ll do 42kph. That’s where the [front axle] suspension comes into its own.”

The tractor has completed less than 6,000 hours. Repairs to date (whilst he’s owned it), says Nigel, have been few and far between – a hydraulic pump, a brake master cylinder and brake pads.

He added: “Reverse-drive is not fitted to this tractor, but it can be fitted relatively easily – if I came across one second-hand in a breaker’s yard. It wouldn’t be a big job.

“The layout of the cab is quite good, but there’s a bit of a reach for your spool valves and lift [controls].”

He concluded: “I’m always on the look-out for other ‘concept tractors’ – something that would catch my eye. I kind of have my heart set on a Deutz-Fahr Intrac – a 6.30 or a 6.60. Hopefully some day…”