The 880 lmplematic was also introduced in September 1961 and although this model would run concurrently with the 850 until October 1965. it had already been viewed as becoming its natural successor when the 3-cylinder engine became available. At first the 880 appeared with a 4-cylinder engine, and some 12,685 of these were to be built. Yet its greatest success came as the smaller engined version which was introduced in September 1964 and went on to see 39,900 examples of its type.
Many people may wonder however, why David Brown thought it practical to run the 850 and 880 at the same time, and this was a question I put to Robin Kedward, a farmer in Monmouthshire who has long worked with the tractor and now become a devoted fan.
‘Some farmers wanted a tractor of the same size as the 850, but with increased power, so the 880 was an ideal solution and correctly advertised as the ideal solution for the “one tractor” farm. It was very similar to the 850, but with eight stud wheels (some of the last 850’s were eight stud), the tall higher clearance front axle, which was far less prone to wear than the short type used on the 850 and 950, and of course the well proven 42.5 HP engine from the 950 although production of that particular model only continued until December 1962.
The 880’s were offered with 11/49 (high speed) or 9/50 (low speed) final drives, although I’ve never seen an 880 with the latter. All the 880 models had bowl-less fuel filters which made servicing easier and the oil filter was mounted directly onto the cylinder block, dispensing with the aluminium filter head. Also, for the first time I believe, the yellow stove enamelled exhaust was used. This tractor was an immediate success with large and small farmers alike. With its easy starting and economical engine, swinging drawbar and two speed pto, giving superb performance, these little tractors would often out-perform larger models and many spent their working lives driving balers, rotavaters and rotaspreaders.
March 1963 brought the introduction of the fabricated front axle which was fitted first to serial number 355065, and later went on to be used on many other models. The following month saw tractor number 355341 being the first 880 to benefit from the introduction of height control. This very popular tractor remained basically unchanged until the final 4-cylinder 880 rolled off the production line in August 1964, the last one being graced with the serial number 362382. August 1964 also brought dramatic changes in the engine department with the introduction of a new 3-cylinder power unit of a completely new DB design.
The AD3/40 series had a cross-flow cylinder head, a bore of 3 13/16″ and a 4 1/2″ stroke and an unusually mounted vertical injection pump. These models were now called the E & F series and commenced with the serial no 521001 in September. My own DB 880 3-cylinder is no 521196, which is one of the very first. Along with the new 3-cylinder engine, which had a much higher torque than the old 4-cylinder, came other changes; for example, the battery was changed to a single 12 volt instead of the two 6’s and was now located at the front of the radiator, whilst the aircleaner was moved from its time honoured position on the left-hand side of the engine to a similar position in front of the radiator. A new type of three-way hydraulic valve was also fitted and after a few months the engine was also fitted with a high-lift camshaft which again improved performance. Plans were already underway for a new model with a much improved hydraulic system (Selectamatic) and this tractor was to be a proving ground for the new 3-cylinder engine.’
With all these new features, plus continual improvements, there is little wonder that the 880 sold so well; yet when we look at the price list for December 1964 we can see another very good reason why farmers would choose it. The price list issued for the Smithfield Show informs us that the 880 lmplematic Livedrive with 5.5 – 16 fronts and 12.4/11-28 rears cost just £721.7s.6d (£721.375p) whilst the twelve speed version was a little more expensive at £752-12-6d (£752.625p). The three-way valve U578 cost £7.5s.0d (£7.25p) and linkage stabilisers at £1-10-0d (£1.50) each. Those were the days!!
Sadly Hunting Pink and Primrose Yellow gave way to Chocolate Brown and Orchid White and in October 1965 the last 880 Implematic to roll off the production line was number 527521. In four years 19,207 880 Implematic tractors were produced, 4-cylinder, 3-cylinder and narrow models, but as many of the narrow models were primarily aimed at the export market, this version of the tractor (like the 850 ‘Narrow’) are very rare indeed. Yet, somewhere around the world careful owners must still be putting these tractors in regular use, as for example one which I spied in a neighbouring field whilst driving down a motorway in Luxembourg in 1996.
Robin Kedward testifies to their durability, writing: ‘We have had a 3-cylinder model for the last 26 years and not once has it ever let me down! Six months ago I managed to buy a nice 4-cylinder model. It’s impossible to say which of these models is the better. I like the quietness and smooth running of the 4-cylinder, but I also like the slogging ability of the 3 cylinder. As for fuel consumption and ease of starting there’s nothing between them but I still have a soft spot for my old faithful 3-cylinder!’ And no doubt you are not alone Robin!