A selection of vintage tractors that have recently sold can be viewed here: Tractors Sold
David Brown started out as a company known for producing quality gears in Huddersfield. Harry Ferguson asked them to help develop a tractor with his prototype for three point linkage and hydraulic lifting at the back. David Brown built this at Meltham, near Huddersfield and they called it the Ferguson model. Eventually this tractor was fitted with an engine from Coventry, before David Brown started building their own. Harry Ferguson, and David Brown made history by producing the first tractor with a hydraulic lifting system at the back, which revolutionised farming, and is still used today.
Browns stopped building these in 1939. They had designed a tractor with more power, while reducing the cost. While Harry Ferguson was visiting Henry Ford, David Brown exhibited the new VAK 1, which incorporated hydraulics. The David Brown VAK 1 was built form 1939 to 1945. Harry Ferguson started producing tractors with Henry Ford, as you will find on the pages of Fordson Tractors.
After the design had been sorted out, colour was mentioned, and after some deliberation, Brown asked for his hunting jacket. After throwing it over the bonnet, he asked for them to be painted hunting pink.
After WWII, David Brown improved the tractor, calling it the VAK 1a, built from 1945-1947, until it was finally became the David Brown VAK 1 C, Cropmaster in 1947, with all the VAK 1’s problems ironed out. The David Brown Cropmaster was made between 1947 and 1954, and nearly 60,000 of these were made. The Cropmaster was one of the most popular tractors of its day.
Other than this, David Brown’s tractors remained based on the VAK’s until 1956 when they brought out the David Brown 900. After the war, farming demand was to have larger more powerful tractors, to cover the ground, however, these were only within the reach of the larger farms. Smaller farms needed to keep up, and Ferguson and Ford were producing a product to meet their requirements. David Brown needed to keep up with the new demand, and developed an alternative to the Cropmaster. The easy option was to produce small lower powered tractor, based on the David Brown Cropmaster. David Brown developed the 25hp and 30hp engine, and so the DB25, and DB30 came into existence, lasting from 1953-58.
During this time, David Brown also had aspirations to produce a six cylinder diesel tractor. The model number is consistent with older models, the VAD6, Cropmaster 50. By the time it was put into production, so many changes had been made that they renamed it the 50D. These big tractors were more popular overseas than in the UK, the British market was not quite ready for something so big, so production stopped after 1260 were made. Development of the six cylinder was not continued into the 60’s and the concept was dropped. This makes for an extremely rare tractor, and the David Brown 50D commands a large value, as it is so rare.
Even as early as 1945, it was obvious that David Brown needed a new design of tractor as the Cropmaster would start to look a bit dated.
The David Brown 900 was built for two years, but suffered several teething problems (fuel pump and steering), but did have some new features. These features were added over the subsequent tractors, the David Brown 950 (1958-61), 950 Implematic and 990. The power take off shaft (PTO) and hydraulics were live, meaning that they would work even thought the tractor was stationary. The hydraulics had variable depth control, draft control, which was far better than merely up or down. The PTO was now two speed. A differential lock (diff lock) was added to the back wheels, aiding grip.
David Brown also built a 2D between 1956- 61, an unusual machine designed for rowcrop work, with the engine mounted behind the driver, and implements between the wheels. David Brown built about 2000 these David Brown 2D machines.
In 1960, David Brown introduced the 950’s smaller brother, the 850, a smaller powered 4 cylinder petrol or diesel. While in the mean time, they were designing a three cylinder engine. Petrol was being phased out by now, diesel was more economical. The David Brown 850 and 850 Implematic were eventually replaced by the new three cylinder, David Brown 880. However, the David Brown 880 (1961-65) was first produced with a four cylinder engine, until the new 3 cylinder engine had been perfected.
At the time Oliver, a US tractor company, was looking for a smaller tractor than theirs. They liked the DB 950 and DB 850 so much that they asked David Brown if they could paint it in the Oliver colours. David Brown obliged, producing over 2000 tractors for them.
David Brown’s Implematic range was fine tuned even further, and built even stronger, until we saw the David Brown 990, built between 1961 and 1968.
David Brown were finally taken over in 1972 by Case.
David Brown tractors were never made in vast numbers, unlike some tractor manufacturers. Consequently, several models were built as improvements were being made, and as they were made in relatively small numbers, good examples can be quite rare, and sought after, making them quite valuable for the collector.
David Brown Tractors 1936-1964 Volume I, Alan Earnshaw.