Multidrive Ltd (Multidrive Tractors Ltd)
Founded 1983
Founder(s) David J.B. Brown
Headquarters Gloucester, England
Products agriculture machinery
Parent Kelland Group (former) Brown Group
Divisions (former) Multidrive Trucks
Tractor Division

Multidrive was founded by David J.B. Brown to develop a concept of all wheel drive for Semi-highway trucks after his ADT building company DJB (later called Artix) which was sold to Caterpillar. He later bought the former Bedford trucks business and renamed it as AWD Engineering Limited. The company was a division of the Brown Group. The company was based in Thirsk,[1] but the Tractor Division is now in Andoversford, Gloucestershire, while Multidrive Trucks are based in Redditch in the West Midlands. Note:David J.B. Brown has no connection with the David Brown of David Brown Tractors and Aston Martin


Multidrive 6185 spreader at Lamma - IMG 4597

A Multidrive 6185 fitted with a specialist spreader body on display at the LAMMA show 2009

Multidrive Ltd was original formed in 1983 by its Managing Director, David J.B. Brown, as a division of the Brown Group of Companies - which also included BDE Ltd, Artix Ltd and DJB Ltd. When the DJB and Artix operations were sold to Caterpillar in 1996, the Multidrive operation was retained.

The Multidrive concept was first tried with a heavy duty version of Articulated lorry tractor units and a permanently fixed trailer fitted with driven boggie to give a 10x8 drive truck. The Idea was developed for an Army logistics contract in the late 1990's but was not taken up initially.

MOD Supply ContractEdit

The MOD latter tendered an Urgent Supply requirement contract for support vehicles and Fuel tankers to operate in Kosova. Which was won by Multidrive due to the short lead time and performance requirements. The Experience gained when running AWD (Formerly Bedford Commercial Vehicles) had paid dividends as they were experienced in supplying the Government with vehicles.

The firm built a fleet of trucks for the army at their facility in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, which was expanded to cope with the contract.[2]

New DevelopmentsEdit

After a four-year research, development and testing programme the robust M8-35 tractor/trailer unit and the 35 tonne capacity Multi Load Ejector (MLE) body, capable of a 15 second safe, controllable ejection, was launched. Examples were used on a Road building contract in Scotland were the longer haul routes and the creation of the sub-base formed a suitable high speed route from the source of crushed material to the sites requiring fill and crushed road stone to form the pavement base layers.[3]

The Death of the founder David J Brown in 2004 in a road accident near his home in Thirsk, North Yorkshire at the age of 74 had a devastating effect on the company.[4] With this loss of the driving force behind the idea the company faltered. A move to Gloucester failed to halt the decline, and in February 2006 the business was put up for sale by Grant Thornton.[5]

Multidrive TrucksEdit

Multidrive Trucks was purchased in 2007 by Dr. Li Qu, appreciative of David Brown's engineering expertise, Dr Li was also involved with AWD and Bedford Trucks in it's later stages. Multidrive Trucks continue to support existing customers and users in South Africa and Sudan. Multidrive are determined to expand the 'Multidrive Truck' manufacturing model to suit todays global markets, and are working with several international truck manufacturers to bring 'economies of scale' to the product range. Particular emphasis is placed on the M8-40 spined tractor-trailer combination especially when used in conjunction with customised bodies to suit logging, mining, and landfill applications

Model rangeEdit

The Multidrive mission statement included the simple objective to design and manufacture specialist vehicles for the construction, agricultural and military markets. Multidrive products are currently supplied into the following market segments, mining, quarrying, construction,military, agriculture and forestry. The products supplied include all-wheel-drive off-road haulers, fuel & water tankers, ejector bodies for on/off road vehicles.

Truck modelsEdit

Commercial models
  • The Automate - Fork Truck Companion
  • Multidrive M8-35 - Off highway 8x8 & 8x6 35 ton capacity Multi load Ejector system (Non tip dumping). 55mph top speed
  • Multidrive M8-40 - Off highway 8x8 & 8x6 Non tip articulated bulk (With MLE) body, powered by a 450 hp Caterpillar C15 engine, utilising an Allison Transmission
Military vehicles

Various prototype logistic support vehicles based on 8x8 chassis;

  • MoD Fuel & Water Tankers 8x6
  • Future Fuel vehicle 8x8
  • Flex-Frame 8x8
  • Cargo variant 8x8
  • Future Cargo Vehicles
  • Mine clearance tractor unit for the Halo trust

Rebirth of Multidrive Tractors LtdEdit

The Kelland Group rescued Multidrive Tractors Ltd, as it fitted in with their existing Sprayers business and had decent user base for its spare parts operation which fitted with their other business interests. They paid about £150-180,000 for the parts operation and stock and design rights. They then found the firm had developed a hybrid cross between a truck and a tractor similar to a Unimog for on-off highway applications like spreaders and sprayers, and had orders for 3 machine for Carrot haulage in Australia.[6]

Kelland had previously purchased the Frazier Sprayers business in 2004, and the two operations complement each over in some areas, with the Frazier sprayer units fitting onto the modern Mulitidrive Chassis, in place of using adapted tractor skid units.

Mulitidrive sold about 20 units in the previous year (2005/6) and Kellands hope to double that over time according to reports in the farming press.[7]

Tractor modelsEdit

  • Multidrive 4140 - On-off highway 4x4 chassis units, 140 hp John Deere Engines, ZF transmission.[8]
  • Multidrive 6185 - On-off highway 4X4 chassis cab units, 185 hp John Deere engine, ZF transmision.[9]
  • 6x6 transport tractors with demountable bodies for Australian Carrot producer.
  • 6x6 Mine clearance tractor(s) for the Halo trust. (a charity that works in former war zones to clear mine fields up, so agriculture can restart and stop people being blown up).[10]


Add your Multidrive photos here

See alsoEdit

References / sourcesEdit

  • Other related articles
  • Photo above
  1. Construction Equipment Association report from 2001
  2. Sovereign Publications Advertorial feature (publication date ?)
  3. Earthmovers Magazine Vol.1 No.2
  4. Classic Machinery Network post copy of CN news article (Link un available to original)
  5. Farmers Weekly Receivers called in at Multidrive
  6. Farmers Weekly News report Kelland Rescue Mulitdrive
  7. Farmers Weekly nes report from 2006
  8. Multidrive 4140 spec
  9. Multidrive 6185 spec

External linksEdit

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