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Harry Ferguson

1884-1960

Harry Ferguson was a revolutionary Irish engineer and inventor, whose contributions extended beyond agriculture into the world of automotive engineering. Born on November 4, 1884, in County Down, Ireland, Ferguson initially made his mark with innovations in agricultural machinery, but his passion for automobiles led him to explore and innovate in motor sports and automotive technology as well.


Ferguson is best known for his development of the hydraulic three-point linkage system for tractors, which revolutionized agriculture by improving the efficiency and safety of farming equipment. This system, still in use today, allows for better plow control and has significantly impacted modern agriculture.


In the automotive sector, after World War II, Ferguson's interest shifted toward improving vehicle safety and performance. He founded Ferguson Research Ltd., which focused on developing the Ferguson Formula four-wheel drive system. This system was designed to enhance road safety and performance by providing better traction and control, and it was first implemented in the Ferguson P99 racing car.


The Ferguson P99 was a groundbreaking project that made a significant mark in motorsport history. In 1961, the car achieved notable success when driven by Stirling Moss, who won the Formula 1 Oulton Park Gold Cup. The P99 was the only four-wheel drive car to win a Formula One race, showcasing the effectiveness of Ferguson’s four-wheel drive system. Although it was later banned from Formula One, the technology demonstrated substantial benefits in terms of roadworthiness and safety.


Ferguson also ventured into adapting his four-wheel drive system for everyday vehicles. One of the most interesting applications was the Ferguson Formula Mustang. In the mid-1960s, Ferguson Research modified several Ford Mustangs to incorporate the Ferguson Formula all-wheel drive, coupled with anti-lock braking systems. This adaptation was primarily aimed at demonstrating the system's potential to law enforcement agencies in Europe as a high-performance police vehicle.


The Ferguson Formula Mustang represented a significant advance in automotive technology, integrating a lightweight, viscous-coupling center differential that distributed power dynamically between the front and rear wheels. Although this innovative approach did not lead to widespread adoption at the time due to its complexity and cost, it laid the groundwork for future developments in all-wheel drive systems.


Harry Ferguson's legacy is one of innovation and perseverance. His work has had a lasting impact not only in agriculture but also in automotive engineering, influencing safety and performance standards that continue to evolve. He passed away on October 25, 1960, but his pioneering spirit lives on through the technologies he developed, which have propelled both the tractor and automobile industries forward.

Harry Ferguson
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