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.

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

1966 – 1982

SENATOR / MERCATOR / PROTECTOR – elegant large combine harvesters

With the launch of the SENATOR, CLAAS lent its combine harvesters a fresh new design. Extensive protective panelling and cover sheets manufactured from metal were used. Edges sloping backwards marked the contours of the new machine and the grain tank formed a line together with the engine panelling. The CLAAS lettering was also revised, and the machines were given the new seed-green colour that has come to characterise all CLAAS products to this day. The SENATOR demonstrated not only an exquisite external appearance, but also outstanding performance attributes. Hydrostatic steering, for instance, was included as standard. As the first combine harvester manufacturer, CLAAS furthermore unveiled a drive system with engageable powerband drive. One year after the SENATOR, the MERCATOR was unveiled. The machine demonstrated lower performance attributes than the SENATOR. The PROTECTOR launched in 1968 completed the large combine harvester family towards the lower end of the range. The machine represented an inexpensive alternative in the model range and was delivered as standard with a fixed 2.70-metre cutterbar. Later, as part of the model refinement process, only the name MERCATOR was used; the SENATOR became the MERCATOR 70. The PROTECTOR combine harvesters were given model names MERCATOR 60 and 50.

ProductDownloadType
SENATORDownload the brochure herePDF
MERCATORDownload the brochure herePDF
PROTECTORDownload the brochure herePDF

1967 – 1970

GARANT – trailed, longitudinal-flow thresher

The trailed combine harvester CLAAS GARANT was based on the threshing unit of the MERCUR self-propelled machine. It was a common sight on smaller farms, yet failed to gain prominence, owing to the superiority of self-propelled combine harvesters. Just 1,000 machines were built in the years between 1967 and 1970. The CLAAS GARANT was the last trailed combine harvester to be manufactured by CLAAS.

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1967 – 1981

CONSUL/COSMOS/COMET/CORSAR – the new small models

Having made their mark on family-owned farms, the CLAAS models EUROPA and COLUMBUS had become technologically and visually dated. In 1967, CLAAS unveiled the CONSUL and the COSMOS, and in the following year the COMET and CORSAR. All combine harvesters were derived from one model family and differed from one another primarily in terms of size. The CONSUL, for instance, was equipped with four straw walkers, unlike the other models, which were equipped with three.

ProductDownloadType
CONSULDownload the brochure herePDF
COSMOSDownload the brochure herePDF
COMETDownload the brochure herePDF
CORSARDownload the brochure herePDF

1970 – 1981

COMPACT – compact harvesters for family-owned farms

The CLAAS COMPACT was marketed from 1970 as a small combine harvester for family-owned farms. The COMPACT models 20, 25 and 30 were conceived specifically as small self-propelled machines, and were redesigned entirely from scratch. The objective was to facilitate combine harvesting on smaller farms as well. More than 7,000 of the affordable combine harvesters for family-owned farms were manufactured from 1970 to 1981.

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DOMINATOR to MEGA

1981 – 1995

COMMANDOR CS – high-performance eight-cylinder model

To increase to performance of its large combine harvesters, CLAAS replaced the straw walkers on the CS combine harvester with a "cylinder system" (CS) with eight separating cylinders. The new system was first launched in 1981 in the DOMINATOR 116 CS. This machine continued to use a threshing drum (1.58 metres in width). Eight separating cylinders were located behind the drum with separator concaves positioned underneath. The purpose of the concave was to separate as much grain as possible from the straw. The separating cylinders took up the straw and transported it forcefully to the straw bonnet. This method of conveyance ensured a uniform crop flow. The grain itself could be separated very effectively from the thin straw layer. Both the concave gap of the separator concaves and the speed of the separating cylinders could be adjusted to suit the crop type. From 1986, CS machines were renamed COMMANDOR to better distinguish between those with straw walkers and those featuring the cylinder system. The expensively produced system never quite made it onto the market, despite having set a harvesting world record with the CLAAS COMMANDOR in 1990 with 358 tonnes of harvested wheat in eight hours. Combine harvesters with CS system continued to be manufactured until 1995.

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1992 – to the present day

CROP TIGER – compact all-rounder

In many parts of the world, cropping is still being carried out on very small land areas. To ensure economically efficient, minimal-loss harvesting, CLAAS developed the CROP TIGER. Development of the CROP TIGER was begun in the early 1980s. The objective was to develop a small machine for rice harvesting, in particular for the Asian market. Originally, the CROP TIGER produced in India was conceived for the particular conditions of rice harvesting. Through continuous refinement, however, the machine can now also be used in grain crops with comparable efficiency.

ProductDownloadType
CROP TIGER 30Download the brochure herePDF
CROP TIGER 30 TTDownload the brochure herePDF

1993 – 2009

MEGA – greater output with APS

The CLAAS MEGA is based on the famous DOMINATOR; the hallmark of the new models is the MEGA threshing system. It consists of the traditional CLAAS threshing system, enhanced by the accelerator with its own pre-cleaning concave. The upstream accelerator drum equalises the crop flow and ensures that the machine runs smoothly in irregular conditions. Loose and easily threshable grain is separated by the concave before reaching the threshing drum. The MEGA threshing unit improved the operation of the threshing unit and eased the load on the straw walkers behind. With the MEGA system, it was possible to enhance throughput by up to 30 percent.

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2000 – 2009

MEDION – economical, flexible, universal

CLAAS launched the MEDION for the 2002 harvest. The MEDION was the successor series to the DOMINATOR with conventional threshing system. Thanks to their flexibility, the machines were also suitable for small land parcels and different crop types ranging from fava beans to clover seed. The MEDION was conceived in particular for farms that sought to retain their own machinery for grain harvesting or for farms that shared the use of a combine harvester in order to improve capacity utilisation.

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2007 – present

TUCANO – premium segment at the top of the mid-range

In 2007, CLAAS set new standards in the upper mid-range category with the development of the TUCANO. Thanks to its versatility, the TUCANO can be used on any size of farm or to tackle requirements of any nature. With its big brother, the LEXION, providing inspiration, the efforts of CLAAS engineers furthermore ensured the machine embodied key top-class performance characteristics. The tried-and-tested, high-performance APS threshing and separation system, for example, is installed in all 400-series TUCANO models. The machine has also been available with the APS HYBRID SYSTEM since 2009. Intelligent assistance systems such as the new AUTO CONTOUR system for cutterbars and the AUTO PILOT and LASER PILOT steering systems can be conveniently operated by the driver via the electronic CEBIS on-board information system. A wide selection of different front attachments furthermore facilitates use for different harvesting tasks.

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2009 – present

AVERO – the new compact class

At the same time that the new TUCANO with APS HYBRID SYSTEM was launched on the market, CLAAS unveiled an additional combine harvester model, the AVERO, at the Agritechnica 2009. The machine represents a new compact class between the DOMINATOR 150 and the TUCANO. The AVERO was conceived for smaller and medium-sized farms that rely increasingly on the use of their own machinery. The machine is equipped with numerous features from predecessor CLAAS combine harvesters, such as the APS system, 3D cleaning and the high-performance VARIO cutterbar. A particular benefit is that the machine can utilise the same cutterbars as the TUCANO and LEXION.

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The CLAAS success story – from the very beginnings to the present day.

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