Laurie Phillips, the Australian behind the original Phillips Acremaster and later Phoenix tractors, has resurrected the iconic Acremaster brand with a new range of simple articulated 4wd models from 250 to 590hp.

The full technical details of what will be the first Australian-made tractors in over 30 years are under wraps, but we do know that they will be equipped with Deutz engines; an 11.9l V6 or 15.9l V8. Both blocks are mated to a six-speed three-range powershift.

The first Acremaster tractors were built in 1975 when Mr Phillips founded Phillips-Merredin, in Merredin, Western Australia. The Mercedes-powered tractors had a reputation for simplicity and reliability, and in 1982, the company introduced the 515hp 404A. Made until 1984, this was the most powerful of the six 400-series tractors.

Acremaster was sold to Don Zanetic in 1984, and for the next year-built tractors for International Harvester, mainly for the Australian market. Acremaster changed hands again in 1985, this time bought by Australian-equipment manufacturer Horwood Bagshaw, which offered the custom-built tractors until 1988. After Acremaster, Laurie Phillips founded Phoenix Tractors, but production ceased in 1992.

So, why does Mr Phillips feel that the time is now right to breath new lift into the Acremaster brand? Well, he set up a company called Phillbourne Manufacturing, which specialises in combine harvester parts.

Over the years, he has regularly been contacted by Acremaster users keen to drive a new one. After hearing farmers talk about how expensive sophisticated new imported tractors had become, he began toying over ideas to develop a simpler local version.

In the end, in 2021 he ran an advert in several Australian farming papers and magazines to see if there was any interest for a modern locally built tractor with minimal electronics to keep farmer service a reality.

Within two days he was contacted by numerous potential customers, and he received encouragement and support from five Australian states. This was just the feedback Mr Phillips wanted, and he set to work to develop a V6 prototype.

It is still not known how many models are planned, but the company, which is taking orders for delivery before next drilling season, expects the 443hp, 536hp and 590hp tractors to be the most popular.

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