JCB engineering and assembly teams are now celebrating the contribution made to farming by the Fastrac 3000 Series tractor over the past 20 years.

When introduced in 1998, the 150hp Fastrac 3155 and 170hp 3185 followed in the footsteps of their 100 Series predecessors – in establishing the JCB Fastrac as a “unique machine” on farms dotted about the world.

Subsequent models brought increased power and a new JCB semi-powershift transmission. They also added anti-lock braking and a transport power boost.

Now, as the 3000 Series bows out of production at the Cheadle factory in Staffordshire (England), JCB is focused on the 4000 and 8000 Series models.

These have brought CVT transmissions, all-new cabs, integrated guidance and ISOBUS-compatible electronics to the Fastrac family.

Interestingly, the final Fastrac 3230 Xtra off the assembly line is destined for a customer in Australia, where it will undertake fertiliser application and other spreading duties.

Comfort levels

John Smith, managing director of JCB Agriculture, said: “The 3000 Series tractors are direct descendants of the Fastrac models that introduced farmers and contractors to the new concept of a machine capable of moving farm inputs and produce more speedily and more safely than ever before, while giving operators unprecedented levels of comfort.

“Over the past 20 years, they have gained more power, better transmissions, upgraded cab equipment and new features.

JCB engineering, assembly and sales staff celebrate the Fastrac 3000 Series’ contribution to farming

“It’s an important chapter in the ongoing Fastrac story that’s worth celebrating, as we now focus solely on a new generation of tractors.”

Today’s line-up

The JCB Fastrac range now comprises three 4000 Series tractors from 175 to 235hp, with a top speed of 60kph, multi-mode four-wheel steering and ‘active’ suspension all round.

The two-model Fastrac 8000 Series (from 306 to 348hp) is capable of 70kph.

These line-ups boast a “unique combination” of suspension for both axles, dual-circuit four-wheel braking (with external discs) and anti-lock brake control.

3000 Series history

So where did the 3000 Series come from? Back in 1998, the Fastrac 135, 155 and 185 were replaced by the new-look 150hp (DIN) Fastrac 3155 and 170hp (DIN) 3185. They were notable for their sleeker styling and came with a new 65kph Autoshift (54F 18R) transmission, with a three-speed powershift and automatic shifting modes.

Image source: Shane Casey

New, triple-link front suspension reduced the tractors’ turning circle by up to 2m. An optional performance monitor was amongst a number of cab interior revisions.

The Smoothshift transmission, which entered production in 2001, brought reduced service requirements thanks to its oil-immersed wet clutch.

Image source: Shane Casey

Later that year, the JCB Fastrac scored another of its many ‘firsts’ with the introduction of an electronic anti-lock braking system (ABS).

New styling

A rounded engine hood and roof panel styling marked the 2002 introduction of the 193hp 3190 and 220hp 3220 – both powered by engines with electronic fuel pump management.

Increased hitch capacity (front and rear) and a new control console in the cab (with a short-throw gear lever and electric spool valves) were part of the new package.

In 2003, the 173hp 3170 got the same styling and specification. In 2006, common-rail fuel injection engines brought more torque at lower revs, plus a further power increase to the now two-model range (comprising the 198hp 3200 and 230hp 3230).

Image source: Shane Casey

Major power-train changes came with the 2011 launch of the Fastrac 3000 Xtra tractors, which introduced JCB’s P-Tronic (24F 9R) semi-powershift transmission (with six powershift steps).

An Xtra-Drive feature enabled operators to bring the tractor to a halt and move off again, using only the brake pedal.

Image source: Shane Casey

Complying with more stringent Euro Stage 3B emissions requirements, the tractors switched to a new AGCO Power 7.4L engine (using SCR to clean up the exhaust gases). Electronic engine management brought with it a selectable transport power boost.

This gave the Fastrac 3200 Xtra driver a choice of 190hp or 220hp outputs, while the 3230 Xtra provided 230hp or 260hp.

The lower figure was for field work and when travelling light on the road. The higher figure was meant for “outright performance” – during heavy towing at speed.

Yellow wheel rims

Final significant upgrades came with Euro Stage IV / US Tier 4 Final emissions compliant engines; these brought a “fuel-saving” low idle speed feature, alongside control refinements for the P-Tronic transmission.

They also ushered in “eye-catching” yellow wheel rims for the first time.