Farming & Fisheries

FARM CLASSICS: Practical features under hood of Leyland’s bold and blue venture

September 21st, 2023 7:30 PM

By Southern Star Team

A Leyland 245 on display at the Ahiohill Vintage Club working day in August. The Leyland tractor brand was only in production for 13 years.

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Perkins D3.152

Years of manufacture



NAMED after a village in Lancashire, the Leyland tractor brand enjoyed a considerably short period of production – spanning a mere 13 years – but there are heads and tails either end of the Leyland story.

British Leyland were already an established brand in the 1960s, manufacturing commercial trucks when a merger took place between the company and British Motor Company (BMC) in 1968.

The giant BMC had a vast portfolio of British auto manufactures including Austin, Mini and coincidently, Nuffield tractors which were produced alongside Leyland trucks in Bathgate, Scotland.

The Nuffield brand was dated in appearance and design, while also lacking in a broad range of horsepower. The orange Nuffields were dropped and replaced by the eye catching two tone blue of Leyland tractors in 1969. In 1972, Leyland made a bold move launching a whole new range of four and six cylinder tractors – not forgetting the 3 cylinder 245. While all other Leylands used engines produced in-house, the 3 cylinder 245 is unique as it uses a Perkins engine producing 47hp. In fact, this was the same engine as used by the hugely successful Massey Ferguson 135. Although the 245 is bigger in stature, the 135 was just the tractor Leyland intended to contend with and has a lift capacity of 1.7tons.

Initially, the tractor was fitted with a 10F/2R transmission, inherited from Nuffield. In 1978, there was a considerable advance with the introduction of the Synchromesh gearbox comprising of 9F and 3R which allowed for on the move gear changes. These models are easily identifiable due to the red ‘Synchro’ wording on the bonnet along with their accompanying pin stripes. 

To provide easier access across the cab for the operator, the gear levers were removed from the top of the transmission housing to the side, while also extended to reside at the lever of the seat, with the gear selector to the left and the range selector to the right.

Quite a practical feature of Leyland tractors, the entire bonnet hood swings over for filling the front mounted diesel tank and for engine inspections, while the grill slides forward.

Jumping back to the history lesson, the Leyland brand was revamped in 1980, sporting yellow panels and black chassis. Production continued for a further two years until the whole tractor division of the company was sold to Marshall Tractors. Marshall continued tractor production, upgrading the existing range and introducing new tractors. Unfortunately, production ground to halt in 1985.

Contact Peter at [email protected] or see Instagram @flashphotoscork

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