In the previous decades, Harry Ferguson and Henry Ford had partnered to produce the revolutionary Ford-Ferguson Model “9N.” Ferguson had developed his three-point hitch mechanism in 1926 as a way of preventing a tractor from rearing up when the plow it was pulling hit a rock or hard patch of ground. A linkage between the plow and a high point of the tractor would transfer force from the plow to keep the front end of the tractor down.
By 1946, the handshake agreement between Ford and Ferguson came to an end, and Ferguson began producing his own tractors in England and later the U.S. Both the British Ferguson and Canadian Massey-Harris firms were chasing their competitors, and the two firms had talked over the years about various possible joint ventures. Finally, in 1953, Massey offered to buy out Ferguson’s company. Ferguson accepted.
The merged company became Massey-Harris-Ferguson and, in one fell swoop, became the number two manufacturer in the world behind IH and ahead of Deere. All of the new tractors offered the three-point hitch and that was a major selling point.
But the merger also caused problems for a few years. The merger had put Harry Ferguson on the new board of directors and the company agreed to continue to market separate lines of tractors – one under the Ferguson brand and the other under the Massey-Harris brand. There was even an entirely separate dealer network for the two brands.
That produced confusion in both the dealers and – worse – the customers. It also produced conflict over future designs. Harry Ferguson was a proud and headstrong man, and in just under a year, he left the board in a dispute over the design of the Massey-Harris Model “50.”
The “Two-Line Policy” continued until a new CEO, Col. W. Eric Phillips, brought in management consultants in 1958. They were appalled by the confusion the policy created, and the policy ended in 1958. The company name was shortened to Massey-Ferguson, and it began to exploit its historic emphasis on global manufacturing and marketing. They standardized their offerings, so that the same tractors were sold in Canada, the U.S. and Europe as well as around the world.
By the mid-60s, Massey-Ferguson claimed to be the largest farm equipment of tractors in the world.
The first of the Ferguson 35 tractors were painted with Grey tin work and copper coloured castings and were called the Ferguson FE35. Power was provided from either the Standard Motor Company petrol, VO or 23C 4 cylinder diesel engine. Many people ask why the engine is called the ’23C’ , well the Standard 23C engine is 2259 cc (in other words, nearly 23 hundred) [or ‘C’].
The distinctive colour scheme of the tractor led to the following names – Grey Bronze, Golden Grey, Gold Bellies, Grey & Gold, Gold Standard, Golden Belly, Golden Bird, Goldbauch (Germany) – and production in this livery continued with the last tractor been produced at serial number 74655.