Valmet to Valtra a High Horsepower Tractor History

Valtra has a long history of producing 6-cylinder tractors. Valmet, Volvo BM, Steyr, Massey Ferguson, and AGCO have all played a part in Valtra’s high-horsepower tractor story. In this blog, we take a brief look at the history of large 6-cylinder tractors from the Valmet 1502 to the modern Valtra Q Series. 

1502: Valmet’s first 6-cylinder tractor

Since the mid-1960s, Valmet has had a reputation for 4-cylinder tractors. These achieved high horsepower through the early adoption of turbocharging. In 1975, Valmet’s first 6-cylinder, full-size tractor was launched. The six-wheeler 1502, with an impressive 136 hp, was not a great sales success, but it is well-known in tractor enthusiast circles. 

Volvo BM Valmet 2005 from 1985

The 2005 had a large, comfortable, well-heated and airconditioned cab giving the tractor a total height of up to 340 cm. It also had an impressive weight of almost 7 tons.

Valmet 2005 and 2105 reach up to 163 hp

During the 1970s Valmet tractors were mostly sold in Finland (and in Brazil, of course). However, the international market opened up for Valmet in the 1980s, no doubt accelerated by the acquisition of the Volvo BM farm tractor business. The new “Nordic” tractor series was completed in 1983, with model 905 which had a 6-cylinder Valmet engine with 105 hp. However, there was a need for even more powerful tractors. So Valmet 2005 and 2105 were launched in 1986. In reality, these tractors were actually a facelift of the Volvo BM 2600 series from seven years earlier. The tractor had a large, comfortable, well-heated and airconditioned cab giving the tractor a total height of up to 340 cm. It also had an impressive weight of almost 7 tons. The 5.5 litre Volvo engine offered up to 163 hp. The transmission originated from the Volvo BM 800 series dating from the mid-sixties and the tractor was originally designed for tow-type implements. Valmet made a fixed order to Volvo BM for 1000 tractors which maintained production for a little over two years. This was the last farm tractor series to be made in Sweden. After these giants were sold, there was still a need for newer, bigger tractors. 

The Austrian company Steyr was another, medium size “local” manufacturer with a similar background. Valmet was open to exploring a new collaboration. Valmet and Steyr designed a joint “semi-heavy” tractor project. Although it never went into serial production, a few prototype tractors were created and there was remarkable success with the engine. For more detailed information on this episode of Valtra’s history, we recommend reading the books of the respected tractor historian, Hannu Niskanen, who worked as the engineering director of Valtra at that time.

Valmet 8300 and 8600: approaching 200 hp

Valmet’s large-engine 612DS was used in Massey Ferguson’s new generation heavy tractor 3690 so contact between the two companies was already established in the 1980s. The Massey Ferguson-based Valmet 8300 and 8600 were launched in late 1989. At the time there was no company called AGCO –the current corporation to which both Massey Ferguson and Valtra belong, was founded only a year later.

The brand differentiation was established through various design features including Valmet’s new hood design which went on to be used in the future 8100 model and the Mezzo Series one and one-and-a-half years later. This cooperative way of business had its challenges, but despite the relatively small numbers of tractors sold, the cooperation lasted a long time, and the last of these tractors was delivered in 1997! 

Valtra S Series

The first Valtra S Series was presented at Agritechnica in 1999. It had a German (ZF) semi-powershift transmission, a new cab featuring TwinTrac reverse drive, and powerful, state-of-art hydraulics.

The first Valtra S Series: between 200 and 300 hp

During the late 1990s, farming consolidation and a focus on continental sales increased the importance of higher hp tractors to Valmet’s future. The new Valtra S Series concept was presented at Agritechnica in 1999. It had a German (ZF) semi-powershift transmission, a new cab featuring TwinTrac reverse drive, and powerful, state-of-art hydraulics. The tractor was fully controlled via a terminal utilizing the Linux operating system. During this time, Valmet changed names to Valtra.

This new S Series was a big machine even bigger than the 2105 from fifteen years earlier. The 8.4 litre Sisu Diesel engine perfectly suited the tractor. The 1999 S Series was unusual. Some features could be thought of as being too advanced, while the semi-powershift transmission could be considered old-fashioned. Joining the AGCO family brought new development opportunities. So, in autumn 2007 a totally new S Series with a CVT transmission was presented. Despite the low numbers produced, the Suolahti-made S Series greatly influenced the design of other models to come. 

The first S Series with a CVT transmission and up to 370 hp

In the autumn of 2009, many new things were introduced including the newest transmissions to the N and T Series and the new S Series. This was a big change to the previous generation, as only the engine remained from the former S Series. The cooperation made possible by working within AGCO facilitated new developments and a new generation of even larger tractors was brought into production and remains to this day. 

After the challenging years of the early nineties, Valtra’s tractor sales increased fast and in 1997 more than 2000 6-cylinder Valtra tractors were sold. From this, the share of the high horsepower volumes remained marginal until the new S Series was brought into production. 

The new Q Series 6-cylinder tractor completes Valtra’s horsepower range

One striking feature of the S Series since the second generation is that the up-to-12-ton tractor really only comes into its own when the implement and work demand over 300 hp. The result is that there has been a gap in Valtra’s portfolio above the T Series, (with just over 7 tons and around 250 max hp). 

In September 2022 this issue was finally resolved! The Valtra Q Series offers up to 305 hp with a reasonable own weight of just over 9 tons - perfectly filling the horsepower gap. The Q Series’ launch was a great success. In test drives, it has proven to be popular with large farm operators and contractors. The order books prove that this tractor has been eagerly anticipated by both dealers and customers alike. The Q Series is not only a new tractor that completes Valtra’s horsepower portfolio but represents over 45 years' of experience with 6-cylinder tractors. To test drive the new Q Series 6-cylinder tractor contact your local Valtra dealer today. Alternatively, you can see the Q Series in action at one of our SmartTour events. Click the Smart Tour link below to see when we come to you.     

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