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Vintage Massey Ferguson: Preserving a Legacy of Excellence in Ag Equipment

Massey Ferguson customers are a loyal bunch. That’s what you get when a company engineers more than 160 years of equipment excellence and innovation.

By Neal Fandek | Photos By Gary Heffner

Paying tribute to that legacy is what drives Gary Heffner, a fan of the Massey Ferguson family of products his whole life. In addition to running a 65-acre farm near Rushville, Ohio, Gary and his wife, Sue, publish Massey Harris Ferguson Legacy Quarterly, a colorful 68-page publication with pictures, articles and letters from other enthusiasts worldwide. To celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, the October issue of the magazine will include a collectable early 1950s Massey-Harris wall poster featuring all 28 models the company then offered in North America.

Why publish Legacy Quarterly?

The Massey Ferguson V-8 diesel tractors of the 1970s are still some of the most popular of all time.

The Massey Ferguson V-8 diesel tractors of the 1970s are still some of the most popular of all time.

Gary quickly reels off multiple reasons: Massey Ferguson and its predecessor companies had long led the world in new products and technologies from bicycles to plows, tractors to combines; the many former Massey employees, engineers and field test personnel eager to share their blueprints, photos, letters and histories; and the large contingent of Massey-Harris, Ferguson and Massey Ferguson collectors and enthusiasts who wanted a quality publication.

Then there is the legacy of the machines themselves.

“They were always cutting edge,” Gary says. “Massey-Harris and Massey Ferguson were years ahead in design. They were sleek, with chrome and a six-cylinder engine, a dealer network second to none, plus reliability.” He says he loves using his present-day Massey Ferguson 4610. “It’s quite a machine…it’s got luxury and reliability I never experienced before.”

The magazines are packed with Massey Ferguson’s innovations through the years, which include:

  • The world’s first three-point hitch
  • The aptly named Massey-Harris “General Purpose” (Model 15/22 GP), the first four-wheel-drive tractor produced by a major tractor manufacturer, complete with an electric starting motor, generator and lights
  • The stunning, Art Nouveau-inspired, Model 200 Series Massey-Harris tractors of the 1930s and 1940s with four or six cylinders, produced when other competitors were “banging away on two cylinders,” Gary says
  • The Massey Ferguson V-8 diesel 1150 and 1155 tractors of the 1970s, still among the most popular tractor models of all time
  • The Massey Ferguson 4WD 4000 Series tractors of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, so far ahead of their time they are still considered cutting-edge
  • The present-day Massey Ferguson 8700S Series, the most powerful line of tractors Massey Ferguson has ever produced, with up to 370 HP, 18 LED lights that extend the working day and AgControl®, a system that allows adjustable application rates on the go while automatically minimizing overlap, skips and waste.
Sue and Gary Heffner

Sue and Gary Heffner

Gary traces his love of the brands to the tender age of 4, when his grandfather bought his first-ever new tractor: a Ferguson T0-30 in 1951. This love was reinforced a few years later when an uncle unveiled his gleaming new Massey Ferguson 65.

“It had power steering, all the bells and whistles,” Gary fondly recalls. “It was a beautiful tractor. And I can remember telling myself that someday I, too, would own a shiny red Massey Ferguson tractor.”

That’s a promise he kept more than once. Today he owns several vintage and modern Massey tractors, including a classic 1951 Ferguson TO-30, a 1955 Ferguson 35, a 1956 Massey-Harris 50 as well as the MF4610 he purchased a few years ago.

“It has an amazing cab, air conditioning/heating, a great sound system, high-tech transmission and state-of-the-art hydraulics,” he says. He adds that, when he praises the tractor’s many virtues to friends and visitors, “I can just see my grandpa, proudly telling his friends why his Ferguson 30 was such a great value.”

For more information about the Heffner’s publication and to subscribe, go to Legacyquarterly.com.