The Story Of An Engine
Tractor & Machinery|December 2017

It’s a double celebration for fans of blue tractors this year, as not only is it the centenary of Ford tractor production, but also 30 years since one of the company’s most iconic and respected models was launched. Jonathan Whitlam has the first in a four-part story of the 7810.

Jonathan Whitlam

When Ford launched the 7810 model at the Smithfield Show in December 1987, it was the latest in a long line of six-cylinder tractors produced by the company since the 1960s. Nobody in 1987 could have guessed that the 7810 would go on to be the best-selling Ford model by far, or that it would become such an iconic model.

A lot of the credit for its success must go to its superb power unit. This article is the story of that engine and the tractors that used it, as well as a look at Ford’s use of six-cylinder power in tractors in general. The story begins in America with the launch of the 6000 model.

There had been six-cylinder Ford tractors before, but these were conversions by Funk – turning first the 9N, and then the later 8N and their descendants, into small, light powerhouses by taking out the original Ford four-cylinder engines and replacing them with six-cylinder Ford motors instead!

Eventually, in 1961, Ford brought its own six-cylinder tractor to the market in the shape of the 6000, and what a different shape it was! With new and very distinctive styling and the Select-O-Speed power shift transmission, the new 76hp 6000 was not exactly to everybody’s taste and lack of development led to some serious defects. In fact, things were so bad that Ford had to initiate a recall programme!

A MkII Commander version was produced in time for the launch of the new 6X range in 1964 with the problems sorted and the styling rejigged to replicate the new range, but the 6000 would never recover from its poor start.

1968 though, saw the Ford 8000 appear. The Ford designers had gone back to the drawing board with this one and included a new 401 cubic inch six-cylinder diesel engine, which would prove to be a very reliable and durable unit and one that would survive the test of time.

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