New Holland has celebrated the 100th anniversary since the first Fiat tractor rolled off the assembly line.
Model 702 was developed to address the labour shortage in agriculture as World War I was reaching its final stages.
Increasing the sector's productivity was urgently needed and mechanisation was the way to overcome the lack of manpower and to plough effectively the hard soil of the fields neglected during the war.
Model 702 provided the solution with its innovative approach. It was specifically developed to meet the requirements of the widest variety of static and dynamic applications, with its 4-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive, a steering front axle and rigid rear axle — an unusual choice at the time.
Model 702 also broke with conventional design by adopting the approach of the Fordson tractor that featured a load-bearing powertrain which eliminated the need for a chassis. It differed from the Fordson machine — designed for the loose soil and extensive mostly level fields in North America — in that it was more powerful and perfectly adapted to the difficult soil and frequently sloping fields that European farmers had to deal with.
After extensive field testing, Model 702 was presented to the Italian Authorities in, 1918.
This was the official debut of one of the most iconic tractors in agriculture. It immediately made an impact by winning its first ploughing match.
The following year, on the back of its successful performance in the fields, Fiat signed supply agreements with agricultural consortia across Italy and started production of 1000 tractors.
The first mass produced Fiat tractor was born and the mechanisation of Italian agriculture had begun.
The Model 702 was the first in a long line of tractors that were initially developed to address a specific need and went on to shape agriculture across the world: tractors like Model 700C, the first crawler tractor in Europe, which broke new ground with a tractive force, stability, and safety on hillsides and muddy terrain that had no equal when it was launched in 1932.
The following decade saw the arrival of Model 40, another crawler tractor, which was light, safe and economical, as it could run on a wide variety of fuels cheaper than gasoline. Model 50 was the tractor of the post-war reconstruction: unstoppable and indestructible, it placed Fiat firmly in the lead in crawler tractors.