Some important milestones will be celebrated at this year’s Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show, which is shaping up to be one of the largest gatherings vintage tractors, engines, machinery, commercial and military vehicles in the country. And one such milestone will include the 50th anniversary of a true workhorse – the Massey Ferguson 1200.

A treat to see in the line-up this coming November, the MF 1200 was the first articulated four-wheel tractor to be manufactured in Britain. It can be credited with changing the concept of agricultural engineering, despite some early production blips.

The tractor was powered by a Perkins six-cylinder diesel engine giving 105hp, with its box-like body featuring a steel-nosed bonnet and integral cab – and of course, the central pivot giving it the articulation and manoeuvrability it’s renowned for.

These icons of their time will be exhibited at the Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show, with one long-time collector sharing his passion for this more unusual tractor that came into his procession some 20 years ago.

“I like to see and show my tractors in what I call their working clothes,” says 79-year-old Peter Tack, who keeps himself busy between his haulage company and his collection in Crowland, Peterborough. “Everyone has their own preferences; I like something different, that you might not see many of, and I choose to keep them how they look after a working life.”

So how did he come across his MF 1200? “I was looking for a bigger four-wheeled tractor through a dealer,” he explains. “They didn’t have exactly what I was looking for, however, they asked if I would be interested in seeing a Massey Ferguson 1200.

“They didn’t have much idea on its history – but liking something a bit different, I agreed to take a look. We went to the farm where it was and walked across grassy fields, at the top of which were two trees with a thicket of blackberry brambles and stinging nettles – it was in there – so we got to work.”

Not expecting much life from the long-abandoned machine, Mr Tack hooked up a 12v battery and to his delight – and surprise – the engine came to life. “I didn’t keep it running for very long for being concerned with damaging it,” he explains. “I got a lorry and brought it home.”

It didn’t take long for his new purchase to be running and show ready, with an oil change and pumping up the tyres all that was required. “I think it took two or three days,” he recalls. “Once it was running, we did have an issue with a knocking on turning, but that was easily resolved after finding it was caused by a knuckle joint.”

Today, Mr Tack enjoys sharing his classic tractor collection with fellow enthusiasts and the general public at events like the Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show – where this year there will be a static display.

“Be it on display or in the ring, I like to have something behind it,” he says. “I often have a spring-tined heavy-duty cultivator behind my MF 1200 – I think it better shows the machine’s history and purpose.”

So what is it that Mr Tack likes about the MF 1200 and its 50-year history? “It won the accolade of Most Outstanding Silver Medal entry at the Royal Show in 1972, recognising its significance to farming and engineering.”

And he sees the needs of farmers being considered in the tractor’s design. “The aim of it was to provide farmers with much more grip and manoeuvrability for heavier work – but there was a lot in its design to also alleviate soil compaction,” he explains.

“When cultivating, other tractors were working with one wheel in the furrow and one wheel on top. The MF 1200 kept the wheels out of the furrow, which was a great benefit.”

And he remains impressed with the history-making machine. “It’s a balanced machine with roughly 65% and 35% of its weight on the front and back, respectively,” he says. “It was a clever consideration; when you put an implement on the back it balances out very closely to 50:50.

“All in all, it has huge significance to British farming and engineering.”

There will also be a wide range of other classic and vintage machinery and engines on display at the event, with a celebration of both icons and lesser-known vintage machinery treasures, says show organiser Elizabeth Halsall. “Entries are now closed and we have 1099 in total, so it’s looking like it will be one of the largest gatherings of its kind, in the country – it’s truly not to be missed.”