The Series 10 would represent the most complicated upgrade to the Ford tractor seen since the introduction of the 6X range back in 1964 and would eventually encompass tractors from small compacts up to six cylinder machines, writes Jonathan Whitlam.

The similarities in the old and new ranges were evident straight away by the fact that all the existing 7A models were carried over into the new range with just the addition of a 10 to the model number.

The 4600 for instance became the 4610 and it was still powered by a three cylinder Ford engine although power was now rated at 64hp instead of the 62hp in the old 4600. The very popular 6600 became the 6610 with 86hp under its bonnet from its four cylinder motor. This was the same as the Power Plus 6600 introduced in November 1980 brought out as the first step in the 284 tractor improvement program that was the blueprint for the Series 10 design.

The introduction of the Series 10 range in September 1981 saw the implementation into the market place of the second stage of the 284 program, which had been started back in 1978. This was a major investment with the aim of introducing the very first synchromesh gearbox to the Ford tractor line.

This was introduced on the Series 10 tractors and was known as Synchroshift by Ford.

Basically an eight forward by four reverse transmission this was doubled up to sixteen forward by eight reverse when the Dual Power option was specified.

The controls for the transmission were positioned under the steering column therefore eliminating the levers in the centre of the floor that had been used previously on this size tractor.

However, the layout was far from logical and some shifts were extremely difficult to accomplish, gaining the gearbox the nickname of the ‘Rubik’s Cube’ shift’ It became so unpopular that it was redesigned in 1983 to give a more conventional ‘H’ pattern shift still controlled by levers mounted to the steering column.

The lines of the Series 10 tractors were common to all models from the smallest 2610 up to the 7610. Features included the Q cab and bonnet styling complete with a nose that was lift-able to gain access to the air cleaner positioned underneath it. Square headlamps were fitted into the front radiator itself giving a neat front end profile.

The 7610 was the natural development of the 7600 which itself was based on the Ford 7000 of 1971. Featuring a turbocharged four cylinder motor, now producing 103hp since the upgrade in 1980, this was a really powerful performer in a small package – what is today termed a ‘pocket rocket’. Sharing the 7610’s position as largest tractor in the Series 10 range was the de-luxe version; the 7710 based on the earlier 7700.

Both this and the 6700 tractors continued the principle of the 700 Series launched in 1976 giving a flat floor and more comfortable driving experience thanks to their higher build. Both tractors were fitted with the same Synchroshift transmission as fitted to the other tractors in the range, but kept the right hand side mounted gear levers thanks to a different linkage arrangement.

July 1982 saw a few changes to the Series 10 range – and one of the biggest was the introduction of a new flagship model. The 8210 was a stronger machine than its County built 8100 and 8200 predecessors with a rated power of 116 horses and it was now built, like the rest of the Series 10 range, in the Ford factory at Basildon.

Meanwhile a new cab option arrived in the shape of the low-profile LP cab built for Ford by Sekura. The Q cab had always looked a bit top heavy on the smallest three cylinder tractors in the range, and this lower cost, low height cab gave many benefits. It became a standard fitment on the 2610 and 3610 and was an option on the bigger 4610.

In 1983 the 2910 and 3910 tractors replaced the 2610 and 3610 and these were built to a higher specification than previously and also fitted with stronger rear axles. It was also in 1983 that a range of compact tractors first launched in 1980 were revamped to fit in with the bigger Series 10 models. The Series 10 compacts were built by Shibaura in Japan and then assembled for Ford by South Essex Motors in Basildon.

The Series 10 range was now a truly complete line-up of tractors to suit all needs from the smallest market gardener to the largest arable operation.

However the larger tractors had been having a few problems. It was in the early 1980s that the porous block failures hit Ford tractor engines in a big way with water getting into the oil. This affected all the tractors but was particularly evident in the four cylinder engined models. The solution was to introduce stronger ribbed blocks in 1983 which helped, along with a coolant additive, to sort out the problems. Despite these setbacks more new features and a new model were introduced in 1984.

The 7910 was an odd tractor in that it was the same physical size as the 8210 complete with a de-rated version of the six cylinder motor from that tractor but with a power output of only 103hp – the same as the 7610. 1984 also saw improvements to the cab options available.

The Q cab was still top of the tree but now there was also an improved LP cab with a quieter working environment and wider doors and this was joined by the new AP cab. Standing for All-Purpose this was a slightly higher specification version of the LP complete with a roof hatch and a fitted radio’.

The AP cab was now fitted as standard on the 4610 and 5610 but was also available as an option on the bigger 6610 and 7610 models which were also fitted with the old non-synchromesh 16 speed Dual Power gearbox as standard.

All Ford tractors are well thought of by collectors and as such command a higher purchase price than most comparable brands.

This also applies to the Series 10 models although because of the awkward gear change the early models can often be bought at a reasonable price. Many are still in full time work also making it somewhat easier to find examples.

Pricing is a bit difficult due to all the different variations and options but generally expect to pay somewhere in-between £3100 to £7800 for three cylinder models, £2,960 to £11,600 for four cylinder models and between £4000 and £13000 for six cylinder tractors all depending on condition and options fitted.

Do check the engine in a prospective purchase for signs of water in the oil or vice versa – a sure sign that a new engine will be required.

The original Series 10 was replaced by the improved Force II range in 1985, but the original range were so popular and reliable that many are still working hard to this day and as such make the perfect machine for continued use as well as gaining in value over the years. n