I really am a foolish man with a major failing. You see, I’ve always been attracted to quality and expensive things, disliking mass-produced goods and am invariably drawn to something that’s different. The word handmade always fills me with uncontrollable desire, whether it’s Northampton dealer boots, a Morgan motor car or Fendt tractor.

But I’m happy to say that it’s not always about overly expensive stuff and, for example, most Irish-built farm machinery fits my bill entirely in that it’s essentially hand-built by smaller manufacturers and to very high standards, often unequalled anywhere. I’m continually blown away by these hands-on Irish companies (forgive the pun), who are exporting worldwide.

It was these quality sentiments that drew me to Fendt tractors in 1984 and the then importer, Favourit Tractors in Tallaght. It was run by Seamus Kelly, Bill Doherty and the indispensable Helen.

It’s on my mind because Bill died last week. The Fendt franchise for Ireland was initially held by Sam McCormick, he of former Caterpillar importers, McCormick MacNaughton.

I remember meeting Sam, him as an old man and me as an impressionable young fellow, on a Fendt factory trip in 1984 and he was an interesting character, not easily forgotten.

Anyhow, Messrs Kelly and Doherty acquired Favourit Tractors from McCormick in the 1970s. They had a number of very loyal customers, the biggest of whom was a Waterford contractor running 17 Fendt tractors in 1995, including a Toolcarrier (the engine was under the cab).

I always fancied one and the late Kieran Lavelle at Dunboyne had one of the first Toolcarriers in the country complete with front tank for spraying.

I bought several tractors from Favourit Tractors until Fendt was acquired by AGCO in the late 1990s.

Big is not always beautiful and individuality is invariably lost

So, the Fendt brand transitioned from being a small family-owned Bavarian company hand-building very high quality (and spec) tractors to what it is today, which is quite different as you might imagine. But while Fendt is still a premium brand it is, to my mind, no longer ahead of other high quality tractor brands in terms of quality or specification or innovation.

This is something that’s very difficult for a mass-produced brand to replicate and, I think, only something a well managed smaller company can do.

Big is not always beautiful and individuality is invariably lost. Fendt factory engineers even used to come over here for product development and troubleshooting. But the world is changed today and I don’t like it.


However, back in the day, the ultimate in hand-built tractors was the also Bavarian-built Schluter. This family business even built its own long stroke, low revving engines (Fendt did not). Its tractors – much to my disappointment – were never sold in Ireland.

They did make a little progress in the UK with importer Reco, but eventually high costs and low sales sent them under. Recently, I was in Ó Murchú’s toys-for-the-boys shop in Innishannon and bought a lovely Schuco 1:32 model of a Schluter 2500VL. It’ll do nicely – for now.

Finally, when I was courting the girl who later became Mrs P, we went for a meal in the County Club in Dunshaughlin. As we entered, who rocked up but Bill Doherty with his wife.

We chatted away for a few minutes and then disappeared to our tables. Bill, with the excitement of dating long past, left before us. Eventually when I went to pay the bill (my date didn’t offer) I discovered decent Bill had paid for us already. The future Mrs P was impressed that he thought so much of me – but it wasn’t me at all, it was her. That was Bill Doherty, RIP.