FAP Valmet

1963 FAP-Valmet – The original Portuguese project

Once Valmet had successfully established Valmet do Brasil in the early 1960s, similar projects were tried elsewhere. An unsuccessful attempt in Mexico led to an opportunity in Portugal, where an agreement was signed between Valmet Oy and Fabrica de Automó­veis Portugueses S.A:n (FAP) in February 1963.

According to the agreement, Valmet undertook to provide technical assistance in establishing a tractor factory and supplying components to the factory in the initial phase. The project was led by PhD Gaspar Fernandes Reguengo de Queiroz, and work began on building a factory in Aveiro close to Porto in the north of the country.

Valmet had begun exporting to Spain back in 1957, and a total of 220 tractors were delivered before exports ended in 1962. The Portuguese project was thus welcomed. The product selected for the project was the Valmet 361 D. Valmet sent its experts to Portugal to assist: Lars Norrmén for production consultation and Matti Vainio to help with the commercial side of the business. Valmet’s legendary test driver and engineer Matti Vehniäinen helped adapt the tractor to local conditions and working methods.

Five tractors were initially sent for testing in 1963 followed by 147 tractors the next year. The factory building was still not finished, so the number of Portuguese components was minimal. In 1965 a total of 451 tractors were exported. A separate company, Autofina S.A., had been founded to handle sales and marketing, but it was unable to establish a competitive sales network.

According to Valmet’s deputy director Nils Björklund, Dr. Queiroz was an idealist who lacked economic expertise, and the financial basis fell through when state aid for the factory failed to materialise.

A further 131 Valmet tractors were exported to Portugal in 1966, but the financial difficulties at FAP increased until Valmet ended deliveries in 1968. License manufacturing ended in spring 1969.

In total, 734 FAP-Valmet 361 D tractors were delivered to Portugal and partly assembled there. The tractors themselves survived longer than the factory; I met a satisfied FAP-Valmet owner on a visit to the country in 1993.

Valmet suffered only small credit losses as a result of the project, but Dr. Queiroz was forced to end his factory ambitions. Valmet Oy established a factory in Portugal again in the early 1990s, but that’s another story.

FAP Valmet Portugal

A Portuguese FAP 361 D. The technical specifications for the tractor were similar to those of the original Finnish model but with the addition of front and rear wheel weights due to the hard soil in Portugal. The three-cylinder engine produced 46 horsepower, and there were six forward and two reverse gears.

FAP Valmet Portugal Aveiro

The factory was built in the town of Aveiro near Porto. Over 700 tractors were assembled at the factory for the Portuguese market.