Fifty years ago, on May 15, 1964, Ford’s farm equipment division opened a tractor assembly plant in Basildon, England. Since then, that facility has been in continuous operation churning out tractors. However, ownership of the company gradually changed, evolving into the current New Holland.
To mark the Basildon factory’s golden anniversary, NH recently unveiled the limited edition “Golden Jubilee” versions of its T6.160 and T7.270 Auto Command tractors at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California. They will be available to customers in North America and Europe through 2014. The T6 and T7 lines are the models currently being built in Basildon.
“The New Holland plant at Basildon has been at the centre of our tractor operations for 50 years,” says Carlo Lambro, brand president of New Holland Agriculture. “Today it produces tractors in the 120 to 270 hp range… These exclusive Golden Jubilee editions celebrate the unparalleled success of both the T7.270 Auto Command and the T6.160 Auto Command.”
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Rather than NH’s standard blue, both Golden Jubilee models will wear metallic Profondo Blue paint, which is a lot like the Maserati Blue the company has used on special edition models in the past. (NH’s parent company also owns Maserati.)
The Golden Jubilee tractors also get a little bling to go with their new paint, specifically gold-coloured grilles, exhaust guards and model identification badges. Add to that a luxurious cab interior boasting an optional full leather seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The cab floors get a thick pile carpet, although I’m not sure how that will stand up to muddy or manure-covered boots when the tractors go to work on farms.
Today, the Basildon plant that turns out the T6 and T7 models covers about 40 hectares, and it has seen about 1.6 million tractors roll off its two assembly lines in the last half century, along with 3.1 million engines. The Ford “Pre-Force” 1000 Series models, which were among the first tractors to be built there, now seem pretty low tech when compared to the T6 and T7s.
But the Golden Jubilee tractors won’t be the first commemorative models to be built in Basildon. In 1989, to celebrate completion of the two millionth engine and 25 years of production, the Ford 7810 Silver Jubilee tractor — also a limited edition model that wore a special silver paint scheme — was built in Basildon in relatively small numbers.