The world’s rarest tractor will come out of retirement to appear at the Mundulla Show.
The Upton HT14/350 is the largest two-wheel-drive factory-designed tractor in the world and the only one of its kind ever constructed.
Designer and builder Carl Upton, Upton Engineering, Corowa, NSW, said he made the tractor in 1978 to prove a point.
“Our family had been building tractors to order since about 1965 so when the big four-wheel drive Steigers came out in the mid 1970s, and everyone said you couldn’t build a two-wheel tractor that would pull as big a load as they could, I decided to prove them wrong,” he said.
“It took about five months to build and was sold before it left the factory.”
The Upton family displayed the HT 14/350 at the Agquip Field Days, Gunnedah, NSW, in 1978, where its size made it a stand out among the machinery.
More than 3.5 metres tall and 6m long, the tractor weighs in excess of 23 tonnes (operating weight) and comes with a huge drawbar, weighing more than one tonne.
The tractor is powered by a Cummins 14 litre, six cylinder engine, capable of generating 261 kilowatts of power.
It is big and heavy and made not to fall apart – a real testimony to Australian products.
Since 2004, the tractor has been owned by Currency Creek tractor enthusiast David Bowden, who first saw the tractor in the early 1980s.
He had spotted a tiny ad for an Upton in a machinery magazine and could not believe it was the one he had admired so many years previously.
Not only was he surprised by the tractors re-appearance but also by its provenance.
“The tractor was seized by the Federal Police following a raid on a property where drugs were growing,” he said.
“One of the banks was appointed to dispose of it; they didn’t know the value or its rarity, so were inviting offers.
"Luckily, I got it.”
Although the Upton has largely been out of the public eye since 1978, its appearance in the 2003 Big Iron 3 tractor DVD has seen a steady stream of domestic and international enthusiasts visit Currency Creek to view the iconic machine.
Some have made extraordinary offers at the machine, but Mr Bowden says it is not for sale.
“I really like how it’s made,” he said.
“It is big and heavy and made not to fall apart – a real testimony to Australian products.”
Mr Bowden says he plans to restore the tractor after its public appearances in the South East, made possible by sponsorship from Traeger Earthmoving, Goolwa.
The Upton will be joined at the Mundulla Show by another rare tractor, a home-built six-wheel-drive Chamberlain put together across a number of years by the Morgan family, Karoonda.
A video of this tractor on YouTube has attracted more than four million views since it was posted seven years ago. The Chamberlain will also be on display at the show and will take part in the tractor pull.