JCB Fastrac milestone
It’s been 25 years since the first Fastrac tractor was introduced
JCB is toasting 25 years’ production of its Fastrac range of tractors, the world’s first tractor with full suspension.
It was JCB chairman Anthony Bamford who struck the idea of manufacturing an unconventional tractor while he was on holiday from Britain in 1984.
He saw an opportunity to develop a tractor that had high road speed and would also be capable of field work, including heavy-draft applications.
The Fastrac design has developed hugely from the first prototype built in 1987 in secret beneath the office block at JCB Transmissions in Wrexham, North Wales.
Back then it had suspension incorporated in both axles, shattering the myth that suspension and ploughing is an impossible combination.
Project P120, as it was known then, was unveiled to the media and public at the Royal Smithfield Show in 1990 ahead of production start-up in spring the following year.
Apart from being the first high-draft agricultural tractor with all-round suspension, capable of top speeds up to 75km/h, over the past 25 years the Fastrac has been the first to feature truck-standard disc brakes, multi-mode four-wheel steering, an anti-lock braking system (ABS), and self-levelling suspension.
It was the field speed and comfort that was praised by early Fastrac users the most, according to JCB.
The Selectronic transmission with 2-speed powershift was one of the first improvements to the Fastrac introduced two years after the 125 (120hp) and 145 Turbo (140hp) models were launched in 1991. This doubled the number of working speeds available and brought in a pre-select system for easy range and shuttle shifting.
Fast forward to when the current 4000 Series tractor was first unveiled in 2013, and JCB chief engineering and innovation officer Tim Burnhope says that looking back, it’s clear JCB’s tractor technology and design has come a long way.
“The Fastrac 4000 Series is such a complete tractor in all respects that it’s attracting users who haven’t operated a Fastrac before, as well as long-term enthusiasts,” Burnhope says. “The cab design, engine performance and transmission control is at least as good as other tractors of comparable power.”
JCB employees celebrate 25 years of Fastrac tractor production