Half a Century of Yanmar’s Iconic Red Tractor A Photographic Journey Back Through Time


Reading Time : 7mins

What did you do over the summer of 2017?

From August 11 to 27 the Yanmar Museum in Japan boasted a special exhibit showcasing the history of Yanmar’s iconic red tractors from the very first model released through to our latest YT Series.

The exhibition featured tractor catalogs from over the years and hosted captivating gallery talks from Yanmar retirees and the museum director. From nostalgic sentiment shown by users of previous models through to awe and excitement expressed by first-time viewers and children, the exhibit provided a range of experiences for visitors over the summer.

a journey over half a century of Yanmar tractor advancements,

For both those who attended and for those who missed out, we created a special online Red Tractor Exhibition to share with you right here on Y-Media. Through our collection of photographs, we’ve taken a journey back over more than half a century of Yanmar tractor advancements and technology developments. While the late 1920’s saw shifts away from manual labor to using horses in farming, it was from the late 1940’s that the mechanization of tilling took off and the power tiller became a mainstay product on our farms. Later on, the late 1960’s saw an increased demand to reduce manual labor, leading to the ride on tractor.

The Dawning of a New Era in Efficient Farming: From Power Tillers to Tractors

The progression in ag equipment over the years has been about making work easier for farmers.

1963 YM12A
The Yanmar ride-on tractor is released just 2 years after launching our first power tiller. The YM12A/13A models are powered by horizontal water-cooled diesel engines.

1968 YM273
Equipped with a vertical water-cooled diesel engine, the YM273 becomes the new standard for tractor design.

Meeting Demand for Power: The Advent of the Four Wheel Drive

While Japanese tractors were mainly rear-wheel drive, this soon changed with the release of the 4WD in the late 1960’s. Offering added power and unparalleled tractive force in paddy fields, the 4WD soon became the new standard and even today, remains the popular choice in farming.

1974 YM1500D
As the first 4WD tractor in the industry to employ a bevel gear drive system, the YM1500D meets demands for tractive performance and maneuverability in rice farming.

1976 YM3000
The 3 cylinder engine equipped YM3000 answers market demands for reduced noise and vibration.

1976 YM2210
The YM2210 is equipped with a powershift transmission delivering seamless gear shifts and enhanced operability out on the fields. Combining Yanmar’s strengths to become a world first in innovative technology, the YM2210 also marks the era for the red tractor with well-known actor, Akira Kobayashi, appearing in its commercials.

Yanmar “UFO” for Tractors Makes Headways in Leveling Uneven Fields

The late 1970’s marked the development of the Yanmar “UFO” which, despite the name, refers to an automated land-leveling device. The device uses sensors to detect the machine tilt, automatically adjusting the rotary tiller. Even today this device is a standard in the industry for leveling uneven fields.

1982 YM4220
The first of Yanmar’s tractors to feature power steering. It reduces the effort required for 4WD front loader operations. This product boasts several new developments, namely the rotary tiller which automatically adjusts tilling depths for enhanced tilling precision, alongside the UFO for automatically adjusting implement tilt.

1986 FX42
The FX42 is the world’s first tractor to feature the quick hitch system, allowing users to quickly replace PTO implements and the drive shaft with one move. These days almost all tractors over 30 HP are equipped with a quick hitch. The FX42 is an industry first to feature a rotary tiller where its position and rear cover can be adjusted manually. This product puts Yanmar in the lead with a design that enables covers to remain in a fixed position despite changing tilling depths.

1987 FX435
The FX435 features the new High Grip Turn feature; providing front wheel acceleration that is nearly twice the speed of the rear wheels, when turning corners for better maneuverability in the fields. Many hours were spent to ensure that the field didn’t get damaged when turning and to find the optimal steering angle when the speed is first increased. This data is still used as a building block for tractors made today.

Riding in Comfort & Style: From the Roof to the Cabin

In the late 1970’s to early 1980’s the roof covered tractor was all there was. However with an increase in tractor size and features, cabins which offered comfort, music players and air-conditioning were in demand. It was at this time that Yanmar commenced development and production of cabins.

1989 F535
The F535 is the first tractor to feature an electronic governor, instead of a mechanical governor. With enhancements for better engine torque at low speeds, the F535 drastically improves tractor performance. This control feature marked the beginning of the EcoTra Series.

1995 CT95
Equipped with rubber crawlers and a steering wheel, CT95 offers everything a crawler tractor should. The TNE engine delivers noise and vibration reductions and meets emission regulations.

The Resource and Fuel Efficient EcoTra Delivers Improved Environmental Performance

The turn of the millennium was the beginning of tractors that focused on delivering improved environmental performance. In addition to engine performance, demands for environment performance were driving the development of resource and fuel efficient engines. This shift saw the advent of the EcoTra Series. With Yanmar’s computer controlled fuel injection, we delivered more efficient combustion and cleaner emissions.

1996 US46R
Yanmar leads the industry with development of the US46R, equipped with an Eco Diesel and high speed rotary tillers. Compared to its predecessors the US46R offers 30-40% more efficiency and uses 30-50% less fuel to till the same size of land. The highly popular commercial also sparked enthusiasm from younger generations for how fast it was.

1996 AF330R
Following on from the US46R which was designed for paddy fields, in the 30 HP range, Yanmar’s AF330R EcoTra is developed for all other types of fields, delivering enhanced versatility for tilling. Being able to till fields up to 40% faster, the AF330R is more productive and uses 10-30% less fuel to till the same area of land. With the versatile AF330R, tines can be facing inward, outward or a combination of both. It also allows the operator to create ridges, and fertilizing and tillage can be done at the same time.

1998 AF660
Yanmar develops the large and powerful AF660, featuring a fuel-efficient, direct injection, TNV Eco Diesel engine, a multiple plate clutch, proportioning valves and a luxurious cabin, that offers noise and vibration reduction and automatic air-conditioning. The proportioning valves and angular rate sensors offers precise hydraulics and the Nicety Echo Tra UFO delivers horizontal control.

Delivering Comfort and Answering Diverse Needs

As we entered the new millennium, just like the rise in popularity of automatic transmissions in cars, hydro-mechanical transmissions (HMT) were installed in tractors. Comfortable cabins that deliver low noise and vibration were also at the forefront of tractor design. Just like the Delta Crawler which offered drivability in wet paddy fields and minimized crop and soil damage, tractors that were designed at the time met a wider range of needs.

2006 EG782
The EG700 Series is announced as Japan’s first electronic controlled HMT equipped tractor. Thanks to Yanmar innovation, with the EG782 farmers can seamlessly shift across the full range of gears without shift shock.

2009 EG441
The EG441 features the industry first, integrated-hydro-mechanical transmission (I-HMT). In addition to boasting superb operability and high transmission efficiency the I-HMT also reduces loss. Delivering improved fuel economy, the EG441 combines the best of Yanmar transmission innovations. Furthermore, with a new frame designed to absorb engine vibration and noise, this product stands out as an industry leader for quiet and smooth operations.

2011 EG105
Yanmar’s first half-track tractor. The EG105 offers a strong driving force to deliver superb slip resistance in mud and on slanted fields, in addition to minimizing ground pressure. With the added e-Control function to enable automated control of engine speed and travel speed, the EG105 takes effortless operation to the next level.

Advanced Farming with the YT Series

Combining state of the art technology with design. Our well-known YT Series, as seen here on Y Media, arrives on the market; heralding the new face of agriculture with freedom in control, optimized performance and luxurious comfort.

2015 YT 490
Unveiled in 2013, this concept tractor is heralded as the beginning of a new era and the new face of farming. And only two years on, the YT Series goes to full-scale production. Based on Yanmar’s corporate colors, the new Premium Red body and sleek design of the YT Series is a bold statement marking a new direction for Yanmar and for farming.
It features further advancements in continuously variable transmission technology with the I-HMT, delivers optimized performance and farming efficiency. Furthermore, the ergonomically designed cabin provides users with wider peripheral vision and added levels of comfort.

2016 YT333
The YT Series medium tractor guarantees comfort with 10% more cabin space compared to its predecessor, the EG300 Series. In addition to enhanced comfort to reduce fatigue during long work hours, the YT333 employs new rotary tillers that deliver enhanced precision. It receives the gold award at the 2016 Good Design Award organized by Japan Institute of Design Promotion.

2016 YT222
The YT2 Series is designed with easy-of-use in mind for small scale farmers in semi mountainous regions or part-time farmers in city outskirts. Equipped with a J-change Plus, 10 gear, clutchless transmission, the YT222 allows for both forward and reverse travel and offers ease of operation. With the introduction of the YT2 Series, Yanmar’s line-up now offers products for small timers through to large-scale farmers.

Was there a machine that caught your eye? As we announced recently on Y-Media, we have already entered into an era of autonomous tractors. At Yanmar we are committed to leveraging technological advancements to deliver real solutions for issues faced by farmers.

And the last half century of tractor development was just the tip of the iceberg. Expect great leaps forward in innovation in the future.