Sue Roberts Finds Interest in the Vintage-Tractor Scene

Sue Roberts is making headway for female collectors to become more involved in the vintage tractor scene.


| December 2014



Glyn's Ferguson tractor

Sue Roberts was brought up on a farm, surrounded by old tractors. Her dad, Glyn (shown here), still tinkers with machines today. As you can see by the Land Rover cab on this Fergie, Glyn has not only a good sense of "make do and mend," but also quite a wicked sense of humor.

Photo by Josephine Roberts

There’s no denying that the vintage tractor scene is male-dominated. I don’t mean that as a criticism. It’s simply a fact that, when it comes to tractor enthusiasts, we have many more males than we do females. I don’t believe this is because women feel they are excluded; I think it’s just the case that females tend not to be as interested in old iron and vintage vehicles as men are.

Men have always been more fascinated by machines. Men were the driving force behind the industrial revolution and they remain the prime movers in today’s vintage vehicle scene. But I can’t help feeling that, gradually, this wonderful hobby of ours will see more and more females. Back in the early days of motoring, it was extremely unusual to see a female driving a car; now they are everywhere. Not so long ago many women thought that driving was too technical or even too difficult for them. Now we lady drivers are actually considered to be statistically safer on the roads than our male counterparts.

Many females may assume that tractors are complicated or scary to drive. I’ve met women who are surprised that I can drive a tractor, as though they think it must be considerably more difficult than driving a car. To them I say, “if you can manage a car in London’s nightmarish transport system, then I’m sure you are more than capable of chugging along a country lane on an old tractor!”

I think many of the differences between the male and the female attitudes to machines and vehicles stem from an individual’s upbringing. Boys are brought up to believe that they can and will drive big machines, and girls aren’t. There are of course a few differences in the way our brains work, but on the whole I believe it is more about nurture than nature.

Just part of the landscape

If, like me, you were a girl brought up in a family of men, then you are more likely to feel capable of doing “men’s stuff” as you get older. Sue Roberts of North Wales (no relation to me, though we bear the same surname) is another female who was brought up in a household full of blokes, all of whom were crazy about machines.

Sue grew up on a farm with a bunch of brothers, all of who tinkered with machines from an early age. They were into anything and everything mechanical, from tractors to motorbikes, and Sue just joined in with it all. On occasion their mum was known to run out of the house, at her wit’s end, yelling at one or another of them to, “stop tearing around the field on that thing!”