Typically, Germany’s Agritechnica machinery show concentrates on looking toward the future rather than the past when it comes to technology, so it doesn’t devote a lot of space to displays of historic farm equipment. But 2013 was the 100th anniversary of the diesel engine in agriculture, according to DLG’s (The German Agricultural Society’s) research, and last year organizers decided to pay homage to that historic landmark.
Among other exhibits, one entire pavilion was devoted to a display of classic farm tractors and vehicles. While the selection of machines chosen for that display was more than impressive, one in particular stopped many people in their tracks and demanded closer inspection. That machine was the 1962 Lamborghini 1C crawler tractor. And yes, it was built by the same company that is now famous for its super cars, like the iconic Countach that debuted in 1974.
It may seem ironic that the company that now builds some of the fastest land vehicles in the world started out building the slowest. But, I guess, you have to start somewhere. The old adage, you have to walk before you can, run comes to mind. The company’s founder, Ferruccio Lamborghini, who was originally a mechanic, decided to begin his manufacturing ventures by first going into the tractor business in 1947, using parts from surplus World War II equipment.
The SAME (pronounced Saw-may) Museum Archives describes it this way: “Using truck and military vehicle engines and differentials sourced from ARAR Centres (Azienda Recupero Alienazione Residuati — an Italian governmental agency for the redistribution of surplus material), the first “Carioca” tractors are built. These machines feature a significant innovative technical solution — a fuel atomiser which, when used in conjunction with a Morris engine, allow the tractor to be started with petrol (gasoline) and then switch to petroleum (diesel). Lamborghini Trattori (Tractor) is founded.”
The following year, 1948, the first Lamborghini tractor hit the market in Italy.
The 1C crawler
Fourteen years later, Lamborghini introduced the little, narrow 1C crawler, designed to appeal to Italian farmers who worked vineyards on the steep hillsides in that country. To get the crawler between fields, owners could jack it up and bolt rubber tires onto the back axle. At the front, a single wheel connected to a swivel arrangement kept the remaining part of the tractor off the ground and allowed it to be steered in the normal way with wheel brakes.
Under the hood, the 1C had Lamborghini’s FL-2, two-cylinder, 22 horsepower diesel engine, which was connected to a transmission that offered six forward and two reverse gears.
After debuting in 1962, the 1C remained in production until 1966. But 1962 turned out to be a landmark year for Lamborghini’s business for another reason. That was when Ferruccio decided to add cars to his product line. “Spurred on by his success in tractors, Ferruccio Lamborghini decides to build exclusive luxury cars, and so the GT 400 Lamborghini is built in 1962, followed by the MIURA in 1964,” reads the museum’s timeline history of the company.
The Lamborghini tractor brand was eventually split off from the car manufacturing business and became part of the SAME-Deutz-Fahr (SDF) group in 1973. It’s tractors still in production today. In fact at Agritechnica 2013, the NITRO 130 VRT model won the 2014 Golden Tractor for Design Award.
Editor’s note: Grainews offers a special thanks to “Historical Archive SAME — Treviglio — Italy” for their assistance with research and providing unique images.