Product history

The CLAAS success story.

What started in 1913 with the production of straw binders has today become a staple of the agricultural technology sector, propelling the CLAAS name to global renown. Take a look at the products that have made CLAAS what is is today.

Product history

The CLAAS success story.

What started in 1913 with the production of straw binders has today become a staple of the agricultural technology sector, propelling the CLAAS name to global renown. Take a look at the products that have made CLAAS what is is today.

MDB to MATADOR

1936 – 1943

MDB – a revolution in European grain harvesting

The birth of the CLAAS combine harvester: with the mower-thresher-binder (MDB), CLAAS successfully launched the first operational combine harvester specifically designed and built for European harvesting conditions. The foundation was thus laid for the ongoing manufacture of combine harvesters at CLAAS. The very first machine sporting the machine number 1 was delivered to the Zschernitz large estate in the Halle/Saale region in time for the harvest of 1936. The cross-flow combine harvester MDB was a combination of a self-binder and a threshing mechanism, with the threshing mechanism housed between the cutterbar and the binder. After chopping, the grain was delivered to the threshing drum via a feed belt, at which point the straw was re-routed by a chain conveyor and fed to the straw walker. The crop then passed through two cleaning phases before the grain was filled into sacks and the straw tied into bunches. The MDB entered series production in 1937. Before production was ceased in 1943, owing to the war, around 1,400 machines of this model had been built.

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1946 – 1978

SUPER – the VW Beetle of combine harvesters

The mower-thresher-binder with its cross-flow principle soon reached the limits of its performance. As early as 1942, CLAAS engineers pressed ahead with the development of a combine harvester based on the cross-longitudinal flow system, in which the grain is threshed in the cross flow and delivered from the machine in the longitudinal flow. Initially developed under the name super model mower-thresher-binder, this trailed combine harvester entered series production from 1946 under the name SUPER. With the trailed SUPER and its little brother the JUNIOR (from 1953 on), CLAAS established combine harvesters as viable contenders in Europe. The SUPER combine harvester, with its revolutionary lightweight construction, was continuously revised and enhanced. The machine was equipped with groundbreaking hydraulic control, for instance, from 1958 under the name AUTOMATIC. The system enabled the vehicle operator to control the basic settings of the trailed combine harvester using a hydraulic spool valve on the tractor. The SUPER delighted customers over the years with its high productive capacity, efficiency and reliability. By the end of production in 1978, more than 65,000 units in the SUPER combine harvester family had been built in Harsewinkel.

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1953 – 1963

HERCULES – the first self-propelled machine

With production of the highly successful trailed combine harvester SUPER still under way, CLAAS set about developing a self-propelled combine harvester to add to its lineup. To mark the 65th birthday of company founder August Claas, the first self-propelled CLAAS combine harvester, the HERCULES, was unveiled on 15 December 1952. The CLAAS self-propelled machine operated according to the longitudinal flow principle. All components such as the hydraulics and air-cooled four-cylinder engine were developed and built by the company itself.

With the name already taken, CLAAS withdrew the HERCULES name in 1953, the year of its launch, renaming the new combine harvester SF, or "Selbstfahrer" in German, meaning "self-propelled". The SF left its mark with customers, and not just because of its working width of up to 4.20 metres that could be utilised even under highly adverse conditions; the machine also demonstrated enormous versatility. The SF was able to process peas, rapeseed, maize, clover, grass seed and other specialty seeds in additional to more established grain types. The SF was primarily targeted at large farms and contractors with its high-performance characteristics and versatility. The CLAAS SF laid the foundation for subsequent self-propelled combine harvester models from CLAAS.

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1956 – 1960

HUCKEPACK – the all-purpose system

The CLAAS HUCKEPACK was a self-propelled combine harvester that operated according to the longitudinal-flow principle with a working width of 2.10 metres. Its special feature: at non-harvesting times of the year, the HUCKEPACK could be converted to an implement carrier in order to achieve higher machine capacity utilisation. With the HUCKEPACK, the self-propelled machine was intended to offer an efficient alternative for smaller farms as well. Conversion of the HUCKEPACK from a combine harvester to an implement carrier took two persons about half an hour to complete. In combine harvester operation, the steering axle was at the rear and the driver's seat had to be rotated 180°. The fixed pedals for the driver were thus positioned back to front. As an implement carrier, the CLAAS Huckepack could be used in any capacity. The implement carrier had a patented chassis with removable longitudinal bar. All common tractor implements could be mounted and hydraulically operated between the axles. The HUCKEPACK featured a three-point hydraulic system, a standard PTO shaft and a path-dependent PTO shaft. The HUCKEPACK principle ultimately failed to gain acceptance on the market, and production was thus ceased in 1960. Reasons included the lack of quick coupling systems for the hydraulics, electrics and the PTO shaft, which were not present in sufficient quantities until much later.

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1958 – 1970

COLUMBUS / EUROPA / MERCUR – a combine harvester for any farmer

The CLAAS EUROPA and the CLAAS COLUMBUS were combine harvesters targeted predominantly at smaller farms that often continued to use stationary threshing machines to thresh their grain. The threshing unit of the HUCKEPACK was incorporated on the EUROPA. The machine was manufactured in Harsewinkel from 1958. The COLUMBUS followed a year later as a smaller version with chopping width reduced from 2.10 metres to 1.80 metres. The two models, which were relatively small compared with the SF, featured highly modern equipment for the time and a hydraulic system for the cutterbar and reel, among other technologies. Both combine harvesters were a commercial success at CLAAS, and more than 60,000 units of this type were produced. In 1963, CLAAS unveiled the CLAAS MERCUR combine harvester, designed to bridge the gap between the smaller COLUMBUS and EUROPA combine harvesters and the successor to the SF, the MATADOR. Outwardly similar to the smaller models, the MERCUR featured four rather than three straw walkers, and a threshing drum width of 1,060 mm instead of 800 mm.

ProductDownloadType
COLUMBUSDownload the brochure herePDF
EUROPADownload the brochure herePDF
MERCURDownload the brochure herePDF

1961 – 1969

MATADOR – large combines with gigantic dimensions

Launching two new models, the MATADOR STANDARD and the MATADOR GIGANT, CLAAS continued the era of the large-scale combine harvester. Increasing economisation in the agricultural sector necessitated more high-performance and more modern large combine harvesters. The impact of the MATADOR with six-metre working width was simply gigantic for the day. The MATADOR was initially marketed in a version with 87-hp diesel engine, a straw walker area of 4.5 square metres and a grain tank with 2,690-litre capacity with attachment. Since the customers also desired a smaller machine, the MATADOR STANDARD was developed. The new variant largely matched the standard MATADOR, yet was distinguished by its smaller 68-hp four-cylinder engine, shorter straw walkers and a reduced grain tank volume. The original version of the MATADOR was given the name affix GIGANT to indicate its larger dimensions. In total, more than 35,000 MATADOR combine harversters were built in the production years 1961–69.

ProductDownloadType
MATADORDownload the brochure herePDF
MATADOR GIGANTDownload the brochure herePDF