The LTX Tractor Book

The LTX Tractor Book – Why do it ?
David Walker

I have recently been asked for my reason for writing a book on a tractor that never went into production, and has been effectively dead and buried for seventy years? Maybe, there was something of an incentive, in that the Ferguson LTX has assumed almost mythical status, in the eyes of many enthusiasts of the Ferguson marque?

One of the problems relating to what might be referred to this mythical story, and the LTX story is definitely one of these, is that on many occasions, various aspects of the story, blurred by time, become believed as factually accurate, but if untrue, are very difficult to dislodge.

For those who don’t know me, my background is that I joined Massey-Ferguson in 1966, as a technical author, producing the instruction books and workshop manuals, before becoming a service engineer and after that, a service manager, in both the UK and Europe.

As a former employee of Massey-Ferguson, albeit some time after the demise of the LTX project, I was fortunate enough to be in frequent touch with a number of people who were involved with the LTX project. I can recall asking them about what made its short life and demise such an important topic, even years afterwards and how its demise was such a blow to them. Even more interesting was talking about the features that made it the potential worldbeater it could have been, if it had continued.

I suppose one of the other incentives that helped drive the project, other than my seemingly inexhaustible interest in engineering history, is, that ironically, when the LTX project began, I was actually living in Coventry, in Maudslay Road, just opposite what was later the home of the Massey-Ferguson Engineering Department, so only a few hundred yards from where the LTX tractors were assembled. Also, it was the place where the last LTX prototype was taken, for scrapping – an act of what many now mostly see as wanton vandalism, but perhaps understandable at the time, as the book explains.

When it came to writing the book, one of the most difficult aspects to address was trying to produce a fair and unbiased account of the many events in its short history. This was far from easy when you are also an enthusiast for the product!

The basic problem was, that you could very easily take sides and produce a onesided account, praising all the good features and ignoring the bad, without giving the other side of the story a fair hearing. Suffice to say, this ‘warts and all’ scenario does not always make for comfortable reading, but is, at least, as near the truth as can be established.

Another side of the story, which has received little attention on this side of the Atlantic, is what was happening in the Harry Ferguson Engineering Department in Detroit, because a major aspect of the LTX project was to have the tractor in production both at Banner Lane and in Detroit.

In fact, I received a huge amount of help from the USA, from Gary Heffner, the editor of the Legacy Quarterly magazine and Bob Sybrandy, both enabling a much more balanced view of the project.

One aspect of the book which I hope is one of its merits, is the fairly constant references to many people, some directly involved and some as outsiders, but all who I considered to be there and able to make a contribution to the story. Having worked in several industries, I have found that there is often an aspect not always appreciated, and this is the interconnected work of the vast number of people, in many different departments, without whose input there would be no product.

What became an almost compellingly magnetic aspect of the story was how complicated and convoluted a story it was, because there seemed to be ever more intrigue, as more and more information came to light, with so many interlinked, yet often opposing factors muddying the waters.

For this reason, rightly or wrongly, I decided that simply listing the ongoing saga as a more or less chronological list was not really the way to illustrate the somewhat chaotic way that things actually occurred.

In passing, I must draw attention to the encouragement and help I received from the late Michael Thorne, for his help in providing some priceless documents and drawings, without which the book would have been more than somewhat lacking.

In closing this brief account of some of the aspects of how the book came to publication, whilst most of the input being my own, another great help has been journalist and editor Peter Simpson, for his help and advice with getting the book to the point of publication.

To add a final twist to my involvement with the LTX project, I can claim to having been in the Service Department office at Banner Lane, when the call came through about the clutch failure of the last survivor. If I had only known then… AS they say, hindsight remains the most precise science known to mankind.

David Walker: published in Club Journal no.108 Spring 2024

The book is available by post from the author:

Costs are: Book £14.95 (plus £1.00 Paypal insurance, if used) and postage £4.50.
Payment can be via Paypal: Contact David here for details:
or a cheque made out to:
D. J. Walker. 92 Winsford Avenue, Allesley Park, Coventry, CV5 9JF.  Telephone 02476 679987
Despatch is immediate, on receipt of order payment.

Book Review – Ferguson LTX Tractor by David Walker
The LTX Tractor – The Ferguson Enigma
J Chris Clack

The agricultural machinery industry has produced many innovative products during its long history, some still providing a key role in food production on farms, others with good intentions failed to make it to the market. The Ferguson tractor with its numerous implements and the famous Ferguson System, has to be a stand out example of possibly the most well known of these successes across the world. How was it then, that Ferguson’s large tractor, or LTX (Large Tractor Experimental) failed to make the grade after the success of its smaller sibling? David Walker’s recently released book provides an in depth look into what went wrong & what went right in the detail of the concept and its field performance. Other authors have attempted to ‘tell the story’ of this truly fascinating and interesting tractor, but have not really drilled down to the fine detail to  which David has put pen to paper over a number of years of research and questioning of those nearest to the project. We see contrasting reports about its performance and abilities, a dedication of Ferguson and his engineers to produce an ‘in house’ engine able to operate on a number of different fuels – but the trials and tribulations of such a bold experiment. The politics involved of two engineering project teams either side of the Atlantic and who wins out. Market forces dictating the specification to suit local conditions, together with an ability to have Dealers placing advance orders for a tractor unseen and without a final specification or price at the time, yet given a product number of TE60. All this provided to the reader in original documentation from that period. Much detail has been lost over time, such that we can only speculate as to what it contained or what was stated. A commitment and financial investment of a factory and its suppliers to begin tooling up for a new product, only to see it cast into the abyss. A test tractor appearing on a farm many years after the test programme was consigned to history, together with speculation as to whether there is another somewhere in the world as yet not surfaced! The LTX tractor has become almost mythical to those avid collectors of all things Ferguson, over time much has been speculated and numerous stories abound. Fortunately, we now have a comprehensive and factual record of this ‘wonder’ tractor thanks to the author and his many contacts, many of whom are sadly no longer with us and cannot be enquired upon again.

J Chris Clack: published in Club Journal no.108 Spring 2024