The Ferguson Model TE20 was a British agricultural tractor. It was Harry Ferguson's most successful design, commonly known as the Little Grey Fergie. It was manufactured from 1946 to 1956. It was a small but effective design and is a popular collectors item for enthusiasts today.
The TE range of Ferguson tractors were introduced in England in 1946 following 30 years of continuous development of the 'The Ferguson System' from 1916. The first work was to design a plough and linkage to integrate the tractor with its work in a manner that was an engineering whole. The automatic control system, now employed by almost all tractor manufacturers worldwide, was patented by Harry Ferguson in 1925 and known as the 'Master Patent'.
By the early 1930s the linkage design was finalised and is now adopted as international standard category I. During the 1930s the first complete Ferguson tractors were built and the famous 'suction side' hydraulic control system developed and put into production at the David Brown factory at Huddersfield, England. (It was this production that led in 1939 to the David Brown line of tractors).
In order to get volume production with lower costs Harry Ferguson, following a demonstration of his tractor before Henry Ford senior in October 1938, did a gentleman's agreement with Ford to produce the Ferguson tractor in Detroit starting mid 1939. About 300,000 of these tractors, known 'Ford Ferguson' were produced up to June 30 1947.
During the War years the Ferguson design team developed many improvements to both tractor and implements and started to make arrangements to manufacture in the United Kingdom (UK). The agreement with Ford in 1938 was to include production at the Ford plant at Dagenham, Essex, UK but the UK Ford company would not do it. By 1945 Ferguson had made a manufacturing agreement with the Standard Motor Company of Coventry, England to produce the Ferguson tractor incorporating all their latest improvements and to be known as the TE20, ie Tractor England.
Production started in the late summer of 1946, nearly a year before the last Ford Ferguson came off the line in Detroit in June 1947. The break with Ford left Harry Ferguson and his US company having implements to sell but no tractors. To make up the gap until the new Ferguson factory in Detroit started in October 1948, over 25,000 Coventry built TE20s were shipped to the USA and Canada. The TO (Tractor Overseas) 20 was virtually the same as the TE20.
Coventry production to 1956 was 517,651 units, about 66% being exported, mainly to Continental Europe and the British Empire but many other countries as well. To the above figure must be added TO production at Ferguson Park, Detroit. Including all 'Ferguson System' tractors from May 1936 to July 1956 brings the figure to approximately 1 million.
Harry Ferguson merged his worldwide companies with Massey-Harris of Toronto in July 1953, three year before TE and TO20 production ended, hence the change of name on the serial plate to 'Massey-Harris-Ferguson'. The Ferguson 35 replaced the old line in the US in 1955 and the TE20 in the UK in 1956, production here starting in September of that year following re-tooling of the factory.
Between 1948 and 1951, the TO20 with a Continental engine was built in Detroit, Michigan.
Models and production years:
Half a million TE20 tractors of all models were built. They were succeeded by the FE35, and then shortly after Ferguson merged with Massey-Harris to become Massey-Ferguson. For a time both Massey Harris and Ferguson brands continued alongside, until the FE35 became the MF (Massey Ferguson) 35.