Tractors of the Zetor brand began to write their history in the post-war period. The first Zetor tractor, the Z 25, was "baptised" on 15 March 1946. Five months later the Chamber of Commerce and Trade of the Czechoslovak Republic issued a trademark for the Zetor brand.
The brand, like all congenial things, was born easily and simply: as the transcript of the letter "Z", used in the logo of the Brno Zbrojovka engineering plant where the first tractors were made, combined with the last two letters of the word "tractor". In 1954 the research and development base was founded for Zetor. In that period the fields welcomed, following the extremely successful Zetors 25 and 15, the more powerful Zetor 30, and in 1956 a new more robust model, the Zetor 50 Super, was born, with an engine power of 50 hp (37 kW).
End of World War II. Czechoslovak industry faces a challenge: to construct a cheap, low weight tractor suitable for mass production.
On 15 March 1946 the Zbrojovka Brno factory held a small celebration - on that day the first three Z 25 tractors were delivered to customers.
In the year 1947 nearly 3,500 tractors were sold – about one third to Ireland, Poland, Denmark and Belgium.
In the years 1947 – 1949 2,215 Zetor 15 tractors were made. This was a single-cylinder prototype of the Zetor 25. The Zetor 15 was equipped with a diesel engine with the power of 15 hp (11 kW), a six-gear transmission and maximum speed of 22 km/hr.
František Musil continued to innovate his product. He looked for inspiration abroad. The result was a new embodiment of his tractor – the Zetor 25 K (K = cultivation).
Musil possessed a lot of experience in designing diesel engines. The demand of the time resulted in his proposed tractor Zetor 30.
In the course of more than two years the Zetor 25 gathered a lot of operational experience in different countries. The result of the modernization based on this experience was the Zetor 25 A.
In February 1949 the first 10,000 tractors were sold.
The model Zetor 25 reached 8,500 manufactured units in 1951. Despite that, neither domestic nor foreign demand was fully satisfied.
Apart from tractors Zbrojovka Brno also focused on other production (motorcycle engines, firearms, typewriters). This limited the volume of tractor production.
In the year 1954 the research and development base at Zetor was established, using the knowledge and experience of engineers of Zbrojovka Brno.
After the brand’s first decade of existence, in addition to the already popular tractors, the crawler Zetor Super P was born and first introduced at the second Czechoslovak engineering exhibition at the Brno Fair Grounds in 1956.
A couple of years later Zetor became the first in the world to apply the progressive and unique concept of using unified elements in tractor manufacture, i.e. the use of identical parts in different models for the considerable simplification of manufacture and servicing. In 1960 the company launched the Zetor 3011 - the basic model of the revolutionary unified series - UR I. Other models of this series followed – the Zetor 2011 and 4011 - where a new numerical identification of the individual models was introduced for the different modifications.
Lack of hydraulic hitch systems for axle load relief and the slow development of suitable tractor tires in the fifties were the main reasons for increased demand for crawlers.
In 1959 two new assembly lines were installed; one for the assembly of Zetor 35 Super engines and the other for the final assembly of this tractor type. The two lines later merged.
In 1960 the Super 35 tractor was modernised and renamed the Super 50. These tractors were sold as far afield as Burma, Ghana and Iraq. By 1968 more than 150,000 units had been produced.
In the latter half of the 1950s Zetor was the first in the world to introduce the progressive and unique concept of using unified elements in tractor manufacture.
Together with the first models of the UR I series, the year 1960 saw the introduction of the Zetormatic – a hydraulic lifting system with automatic depth control, allowing for the transfer of part of the weight of the pulled implement on the rear tractor axle and thus improve traction.
As of 1961, sixteen years after the start of serial production, the total number of manufactured units was 158,570 of the Z 25 type, of which 97,000 were exported across the world. There were not many world tractor brands that could compare to this result!
Zetor responded to customer requirements for increased tractor power. To support the development of a stronger tractor the "Czechoslovak-Polish Tractor Research Centre" was founded in 1962 with its seat in the Zetor plant in Brno.
In 1962 another model in this series followed – the Zetor 4011 - and in 1963 the model 2011. This was the beginning of the popular tractor portfolio offering customers selection of optional technological equipment on demand.
On the basis of the economic policy of the political formation of the period, Czechoslovakia began to cooperate with Poland in the field of tractor manufacture.
How to expand overseas without the risk of high costs of transport? A good solution seems to be local assembly based on licensing contracts with local manufacturers.
In that decade Zetor responded to customer requirements of higher tractor power. The assumed power was to range between 80 and 160 hp (59 – 118 kW). The tangible results of these efforts were represented by new tractors of another unified series, the UR II.
Model 8011, the first of the series, collected several prizes at home and abroad immediately after its launch. The reason was that it used a number of progressive technical solutions which were not usual at that time, and in addition its design and ergonomics of operation were also considered in its development and manufacture. From 1968 Zetor tractors with the new name of Crystal were introduced into mass production. The modern concept of the construction design of this series became a milestone in tractor innovation and attracted great attention at international agricultural exhibitions.
In 1966 the UR I series was extended with the largest model 5511 with the power of 52 hp (38 kW). The tractor boasted a modern and impressive look.
The UR I was modernised in 1967 according to the recommendation of West European representatives of Zetor. The following year saw the launch of new models: the 2511, 3511 and 4511. More than 80,000 tractors of this series were sold.
The demand for higher power brought about the first model of the UR II series. Mass production began in 1968. A number of new features and solutions not very common at that time placed Zetor among the leading world tractor manufacturers.
In the years 1968 – 1974 Zetor tractors were supplied to the Japanese company Iseki. They were supplied equipped with cage wheels and a special brake system for work in the water of the rice fields. Seven years of cooperation resulted in the supply of around 4,000 tractors.
The largest foreign manufacturing plant of Zetor was built in Iraq in the industrial park of the State Enterprise Mechanical Industries in the city of Iskandaríja.
In 1971 the largest Indian manufacturer of machine tools, Hindustan Machine Tools, executed a licensing contract with Motokov for the local manufacture of the Zetor 2511 under the brand name HMT.
UR I tractors have been modernised since the first series launch. In 1972 the "7" series began to be manufactured with the basic models 4712, 5711 and 6711 and then also with the double-cylinder model 2511.
In 1975 the first six-cylinder model, the 12011, was launched, also available as model 12045 with a propelled front axle.
On 1 November 1976 the already world-famous Zetor brand also became the name of the company. The Zetor company continued in the development of tractors of the UR II series. In 1975 the market saw the first six-cylinder model, the 12011.
In the late seventies manufacture began to be transferred to the Slovak Heavy Machinery Plants (ZTS) in Martin, where innovated types of these tractors were manufactured under the brand ZTS with three subsequent modernisations. The UR I series was also modernised and improved. After transfer of manufacture of the UR II Crystal series to Slovakia the UR I again became the major part of the product portfolio of Zetor. The tractors were equipped with a robust and yet comfortable and safe cab, increased power at lower fuel consumption and improved transmissions with a higher gear range.
In 1976 the name of the Líšeň factory changed from the original ZKL (Ball Bearing Manufacturing Plants) Brno to Zetor Brno.
From 1977 the portfolio included the series "9“ UR I with the basic models 4911, 5911 and 6911. Modernisation again focused on driver comfort - with an excellent design and construction of the cab and likewise the dashboard.
The year 1979 brought a record number of manufactured tractors in the history of the Zetor brand. In total 32,670 tractors came off the production line.
In 1980 another modernisation of the series UR I – the series “10” became available. The tractors offered higher power at lower fuel consumption and improved transmission with a wider gear range.
In 1980 the UR II series was extended with the model 16045 turbo with four-wheel drive and power of 160 hp (118 kW).
Negative development was brought to Brno in the year 1981 – then in harmony with the political move of the Czechoslovak government, manufacture of the Crystal tractors was transferred to ZTS (Heavy engineering plants) in Martin.
In 1983 Zetor brand entered the US market. During more than thirty years of a brand‘s presence in the USA, Zetor delivered nearly 25,000 tractors to its American customers.
Following transfer of manufacture of the UR II Crystal series to Slovakia, the UR I became the most important part of the Zetor portfolio. Straight away in 1984 a new series was introduced, the "series 2" with the basic models 5211, 6211 and 7211.
In this development stage Zetor commenced manufacture of the series UR III, whose concept and technical parameters were in response to increased customer demand, especially for power. In 1992, shortly after the commencement of manufacture of tractors of this unified series, innovated tractors of the UR I series were launched under the commercial name Major.
In 1997 five updated models introduced another significant construction change to the UR I series. Tractors with the commercial name Super are driven by three- and four-cylinder engines within the power range of 45 to 82 hp (33 – 60 kW). In the design field rounded mudguard and cab shapes returned and the bonnet was tilted forwards for improved visibility. Further changes included improved hydraulics, a new modern design of the cab interior with ergonomic layout of the controls including side location of the gear lever, increased speed (40 km/h) and an extended offer of optional accessories.
In 1989 the model 7711 began to be manufactured with four-wheel drive including a Turbo embodiment with 88 hp (65 kW) power.
In the early nineties the absence of tractors in the medium power range was resolved. In 1991 models of the new series UR III, namely the 7520/40, 8520/40 Turbo and 9520/40 Turbo were developed.
Tato série je představena v roce 1992. Konstruktéři opět dbají na hlavní atributy: vyšší výkon, spolehlivost a pohodlí. Tuto sérii tvoří modely 3320/40, 4320/40, 5320/40, 6320/40 a 7320/40 Turbo. Výkon motoru je od 52 do 82 koní (38 – 60 kW).
On 1 July 1993 part of the assets of the state-owned Zetor was transferred to the joint-stock company Zetor, a.s., whose majority share was held by the Consolidation Bank.
In 1993 Zetor executed a contract with the John Deere company on the supply of low-load but high-quality tractors for Latin American markets.
The company had been privatised and its name changed to Zetor, a.s. (joint-stock company) on 1 July 1993, and during this period Zetor underwent many changes. In 2000 a revitalisation programme was adopted and on 22 April 2002 the Government of the Czech Republic approved the sale of the state interest in the company to HTC holding.
This company immediately started the process of financial stabilisation of the company, together with massive restructuring. At the same time the development and innovation process of the UR I continued with the main focus on fulfilment of the stricter regulations of advanced markets for environment protection. The previous models of this series were replaced in 2004 with modern UR I tractors known as the Proxima series, meeting the strained emission limits. Development of the UR III series also continued, with significant modernisation and a new launch in 1998 under the brand name Forterra.
An example of modern technology based on the traditional tractor shape of the 1950s. This in particular concerned five new models from 1997: the 3321/41, 4321/41, 5321/41, 6321/41 and 7321/41 T.
In 1997 the Brazilian company Agrale executed a contract with Zetor for the manufacture and supply of a tractor with the power of 60 – 80 hp (44 – 59 kW).
Development did not stop in the case of the UR III series either. The series was significantly modernised and in 1998 relaunched under the commercial name of Forterra. Unlike the current models of the UR III, the Forterra was manufactured exclusively with four-wheel drive.
In the years 1998-1999 nearly half of the shares held by the Consolidation Bank were purchased by Motokov. Unfortunately, tractor manufacture was stopped for lack of operational capital.
In 1999 Zetor again needed to react to the demands of the time. A decision was made in favour of a particular solution: the series UR III with medium power continued to be produced for the European and North American markets and the UR I was designed for te Russian and African markets.
At the turn of the millennium Zetor underwent several changes. In 2000 a revitalisation programme was adopted.
A key year for ZETOR and the start of a new era. HTC holding a.s., which saved ZETOR from bankruptcy and invested additional funds into its operation, is the new owner of the company.
At the beginning of the new millennium, development and innovations of the UR I series continued mainly with regard to compliance with the strained regulations of the new environmental legislation applied on advanced markets.
In 2007 the portfolio of Zetor was extended with the Proxima Plus series, equipped with a front and rear axle for heavy loads. In late 2008 production commenced of the Proxima Power series, equipped with an interesting new development - a transmission with electro-hydraulic reverse gear selection, allowing for reverse gear shifting under load.
A new development of the Forterra series in 2010 was the model 135 with a new engine, Z 1605, with the power of 136 hp (100 kW) and a sixteen-valve cylinder head. In 2011 Zetor introduced further improvements of the Proxima, Proxima Plus and Proxima Power series. The tractors were marked with a new type ID. The main modernisation was the introduction of mechanic hydraulics with top-link load sensing. In 2012 the latest development of the product portfolio was introduced under the name Forterra HSX – the strongest and best equipped tractor. The model series Forterra and later also the Forterra HSX have, since 2011, been equipped with the HitchTronic system of automatic regulation of the rear three-point hitch.
In 2007 the portfolio of Zetor was extended with the Proxima Plus series, equipped with front and rear axle for heavy loads. New elements included a tilting bonnet, allowing for easy access to the oil, fuel and air filters.
Towards the end of 2008 manufacture commenced of the tractor namd Proxima Power with three new four-cylinder models equipped with an interesting novelty - a transmission with electro-hydraulic reverse gear selection allowing for reverse gear shifting under load, the so- called Power Shuttle. In 2009 the power of this series reached 117 hp (86 kW).
In 2010 the newest offspring of the Forterra series was the model 135 with a new engine Z 1605 with 136 hp (100 kW) power and a sixteen-valve cylinder head.
Zetor presented itself with a number of new developments and improvements. For 2011 they included new adaptations of the Proxima, Proxima Plus and Proxima Power series.
In 2012 Zetor launched the Forterra 140 HSX. The tractor is equipped with state-of-the-art technology.
Present arms! The legendary Zetor Major is back! With the Major, not only is the name of the popular 1960s model returning, but also the whole concept – a compact and powerful tractor, versatile and yet reliable. A little helper, but one designed for large jobs!
Is Zetor simply a brand for small farmers? The Czech tractor manufacturer’s response has been the Forterra HD model, with plenty of technical innovations aimed at increasing utility for customers and ensuring comfortable operation. The 150hp engine surmounts every obstacle.
Zetor customers are quickly learning a new English phrase – Crystal HARD WORKER! And it is clear from the basic parameters of the reborn legendary Crystal model that the nickname “hard worker” has not been applied accidentally. It works hard under any conditions.