1982 Volvo BM - Valmet co-operation started in total secrecy

“Back in the 1970s, when I was R&D Director at Volvo BM, I was involved in the development of the new joint Nordic tractor. Work began in 1978 in total secrecy. I made many trips to the factory in Finland, though officially I was “somewhere else”. It could not be revealed that the R&D Director of Volvo BM was travelling to Valmet in Finland. The merger plans were top secret, and outwardly we were fierce competitors. It was an exciting time. I met new colleagues and made lasting friendships.

The engineering teams from Sweden and Finland worked together closely. The design team included Volvo’s well-known chief designer Jan Wilsgaard, so the 05 Series shares some of the same design details as can be seen on the Volvo 740 car model. Altogether the design team comprised six designers, each of whom drew a sketch of the new tractor model. We then chose the best ideas from each one.

When it came to the colour scheme, however, I made it clear that our Nordic tractor would have to be red, as it would be sold in Volvo BM’s established markets where red tractors were a sign of Nordic quality and where Valmet’s yellow and brown colour scheme was not known. I remember my Finnish colleagues picking me up from Eskilstuna by private plane and flying on to Gothenburg to meet with the design team.

The merger between Volvo BM and Valmet was announced on 1 October 1979. After a hectic period of intensive design and production work, the Nordic tractor rolled off the line and was presented to dealers and customers in June 1982. It was a great day!”

I continued to work with Finnish-Swedish tractors until my retirement in 1999. Altogether I worked with combine harvesters and tractors for 42 years. To this day I like to look after my three loyal tractors: a BM 230 Viktor, a Valmet 800 and a prototype of the four-wheel-drive Volvo BM 650.”

Arne Haraldsson

Arne Haraldsson, former R&D Director at Volvo BM and Scantrac AB, CEO of Valtra Traktor AB.