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

Updated: Jul 3, 2020



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



Not so long time ago 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 the latest YT Series. Enjoy this journey with us.  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. 


Through a collection of photographs, you will take a journey back over more than half a century of Yanmar tractor advancements and technology developments. While the late 1920s saw shifts away from manual labor to using horses in farming, it was from the late 1940s that the mechanization of tilling took off and the power tiller became a mainstay product on our farms. Later on, the late 1960s saw an increased demand to reduce manual labor, leading to the ride-on tractor. The 2020 Yanmar tractors you always can find here


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 the 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 1960s. 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 a well-known actor, Akira Kobayashi, appearing in its commercials.




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


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