Thursday, 14 August 2008

The usually overlooked tractor

Your´s truly with the best of English...

I came from a country that only now is starting to pay attention to its agricultural heritage. A tractor, or any machine that has to do with agriculture, was always seen as a mere instrument used by farmers , which would be left to rot under the nearest oak once its engine or any other expensive part beyond financial chance of recovery would pack.

Immersed in a thirty years dictatorship , Portugal always struggled to modernise its agricultural machinery, leading the farmers to use their gear beyond its usual timeframe . I still use a Leyland 154 to do some work in my farm in Central Portugal. (Well, most towing city boys SUVs out of trouble..This ain´t no scholl run,mate!)

Abandoned at a construction site or a quarry? No way! It can be a very interesting machine to display!

And while first world countries would have acess to powerfull steam traction engines, as early as the beggining of the XX Century, we would still be using "Cart and ox" technology .So, it comes to me as a tremendous surprise to contact with machines in the UK for the fist time.
Why should we admire such machines? They only carry one person most of the times, drive flat out at 20 MPH, and it isn´t exactly an eye catcher among the social climbers. Most of them, don´t even have a number plate, for that matter!

Well, if one of your posh mates snear at you, just tell them this is a trike.

The thing is, these machines were so strongly built, that they could outstand the rigourous weather conditions, and still be around some decades later, itching to be attached to some device and prod happily in the mud. These machines, are very near to the concept of "being sculpted".

Most of the vehicles, try very hard to conceal the engine under some tin. Well, tractors are about the engine! Actually, I would think of a tractor, as an engine attached to some wheels. That´s it. And there is nothing more pure to a petrolhead than have a vehicle that it´s only about an engine.

An early steam engine at motion, in a 1916 Model. It doesn´t get better than this.

Going to the rallies, and watch those pristine engines brightly painted , doing their "tugtugtugtug", minding their own business, even if it is pouring down heavily, is something to respect and admire. These folks, came all the way from their home, to display these rather overlooked machines to the general public. For the kids to understand that potatoes do come from a farm and are dug by one of this machines. They don´t come from their local chippy, or Tesco.
I would like to think, that my collaboration , along with a fellow correspondent in Germany to a speciallized portuguese classic cars magazine, led to the creation of the first events in my country involving tractors. None had ever been took place before our chronicles depicting similar events in the UK. I hope the trend means that many more machinery will find it´s way out of the fields and under the oaks, to the showing grounds.

Tractor meetings? Well I started the trend in Portugal. Me and my mate Helder from Germany. Just in case the "clubs" start claiming that...

And for whoever thinks that tractors are a waste of time and space, check this out: People queue up for a quad bike, which also has four wheels and carry one passenger only. Why not buy a tractor instead? Turns up cheaper, has more torque and power, goes up steep hills,and I bet it doe more miles per gallon. And you can´t harvest some potatoes with a Banshee, can you?
Besides, Mr.Ferrucio Lamborghini and Herr Ferdinand Porsche, also had a go producing some mud prowlers along with their motors.

How about that?

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