Petts Wood put their Trust in Ferrari

So it’s not Rosso red and a top speed of 25mph is another departure from what you would normally associate with a Ferrari, but the Vega tractor range has its automotive cousins green with envy for speed when it comes to reversing. Chris Bassett visits Sam Pettman from the National Trust to find out more.

While only being 13 miles South East of Central London, the Hawkwood and Petts Wood site covering 138 hectares provides an oasis of peace and tranquillity. Full of natural history, the area is a haven for all kinds of bird, butterfly, amphibian and plant life.

Sam Pettman, Warden for Kent Countryside decided that he needed a tractor for all seasons after having previously brought an earlier Ferrari model from Lamberhurst Engineering along with a Berti flail mower and trailer.

“When we needed a replacement machine, I went straight for the new Vega – I didn’t consider buying anything else, as we’ve been so pleased with the older models,” says Sam. “It offers many more features than the others, yet was the most competitively priced. It is ideal for us, being able to undertake a host of year-round tasks.”

Although it is the reverse drive feature that sets the equal wheel size Ferrari Vega apart from the more ‘ordinary’ tractors on the market, it is the relatively compact size of the 64, 84 and 92hp tractors that initially impresses most.

Featuring three models, the Ferrari Vega range offers an innovative reverse drive facility within a compact package. Available in narrow AR (articulated steering with ROPS frame), RS (dual steer – articulated with turning front axle) or MT (articulated steering with cab) variants, the Vega is ideally suited to a number of tasks.

Having a reverse drive feature means that the Vega range is an ideal tractor for many specialist and conventional operations, including mowing in tight or difficult areas where a normal tractor cannot access due to height or width restrictions.

The rest of the tractor is otherwise pretty much what you now come to expect of an Italian built tractor; a good spread of 16 speeds from 0.7 to 40kph, simple forward reverse system and a decent hydraulic specification.

Nice finishing touches include the electro hydraulic controls and automatic parking brake. “The clutch action is nice and slow in its uptake, however it is a multi plate oil bath design, so bear in mind that you need to allow the oil to warm-up before assuming that it is sluggish to release,” Commented Sam.

So, how easy is the reverse drive feature to change? Describing how it is done probably takes longer than actually doing it!

  1. Turn off engine
  2. Raise clutch and brake pedals
  3. Release lock catch
  4. Lift seat
  5. Turn console round
  6. Ensure unit locks home

All cables are secured and kept within the console to reduce the possibility of damage.

The operator console revolves around the three central gear levers. The central forward reverse shuttle works back and forth however, so there is no risk of confusing which direction you’re going.

The rear linkage controls stay in-situ, so in reverse drive they are in front of the operator. When using a mower, this control position switch works very well. Similarly, visibility over a mower when working in rear facing mode is excellent.

The reverse drive option feature makes the Vega a great mowing tractor and with a great choice of front mounted rotary mowers now available it should be easy to exploit this feature. The Caroni F Series mower range, also imported into the UK from Italy by Lamberhurst Engineering, stretches to 2.35m (93in) in width and is an example of what is on offer and well suited to the 64hp model.

News of the results has spread quickly. Kent Wildlife Trust situated in Maidstone, in Kent has also bought a Ferrari tractor.

As to the price, the range starts at £26,216 for the Vega 62hp model, the 84hp and 92hp versions coming in at £27,139 and £28,293 respectively. It is difficult to make a conventional tractor price comparison as they are different animals. But one point is clear, the Vega range offers something different and this makes it worth taking a look at.

Sam is delighted with the Vega machine and level of service he’s received from Lamberhurst Engineering. “It is a genuine all-round workhorse and can tackle anything we ask of it. We are very pleased with the machines we purchased and the superb service we have received from Lamberhurst Engineering. We know from experience that we can call on their after-sales service if it is needed, which is important when you are relying on machinery to clear a busy workload.”