Though I’m a city boy through and through, I have a soft spot in my heart for vintage farm equipment, especially vintage Oliver farm equipment. You see, my dad worked in quality control for Oliver Corporation from about the mid-1960s, through the time the company was rebranded as White Farm Equipment in the mid-1970s, to the day the plant gates were locked for the last time in the mid-1980s.
Every time I go to the Indiana State Fair, I wander through the rows of vintage tractors, hoping to find some Olivers from the years my dad worked there. I seldom come away disappointed. This tractor was introduced in 1967 and features, of all things, a turbocharged engine (hence the T in 1950-T) that supposedly offered improved power and performance and better fuel economy than the model it replaced.
I was excited to find this 1950-T because I have this photo of my father sitting in one, a factory-fresh enclosed model. I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it here. What’s remarkable about this shot is that Dad is wearing a ball cap. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wear a hat in person. Dad always seemed proud to make Oliver tractors. I remember no time when he was happier. The Oliver years were good to our family. (The White years, not so much.)
After Oliver gave way to White, my dad came home with stacks of castoff Oliver logo stickers like this one. I’ll bet he still has some.
NIce story, Jim. I know nothing about tractors but I do like the style of the Olivers very much.
Even as the son of a John Deere salesman Olivers were second in my heart and I honestly think it was simply styling. I always found the green and white along with the muscular squareness of the lines to be pleasing to my eye.
Always liked the 55. My grandfather in Saskatchewan always ran Olivers.
Farm tractors from the pre- roll cage and factory cab -era, killed quite some farmers here back in the old days. Lots of water and slopes alongside the narrow country roads and farm land. When rolled over you either were killed instantly because the tractor landed on top of you or you drowned because you were trapped.
Anyway, never seen an Oliver here, but they sure seem to be modern and high quality tractors for their days. Did they make their own engines or did they use Cummins engines ? (or another brand of course)
I like the honest, simple, and durable technology of the old equipment. Recently I climbed into the cab of a top model Fendt (Germany, Agco-Group) to have a look. I thought I’d entered Battlestar Galactica.
For a long time, Olivers used engines (gas and diesel versions) by Waukesha. But these later ones?…probably their own. Cummins were rather unusual in US tractors. Most of the major manufacturers made their own engines.
A bit more Oliver history: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-american/backyard-classic-1955-oliver-super-88-diesel-tractor-ive-got-the-biggest-garden-tractor-in-town/
I know that Cummins engines were in Case New Holland tractors and JCB from the UK, but that was more recently. CNH now has FPT (Fiat) engines and JCB switched to Sisu. (Agco)
This is what I mean with Battlestar Galactica. Just look at the armrest at the right.
I’d think most people would underestimate how hi-tech farming is (or can be) these days. Like a few on here I have relatives on the land, they have GPS-driven auto-steer systems on their tractors, also systems that monitor harvest yield and control seed sowing or fertiliser application on something like a square-metre basis.
Incidentally auto-steer only keeps the tractor moving in the right direction until you get to the end of the paddock, there have been a few cases of night shift drivers falling asleep and taking out a fence…
They also have some old gear still running around the place in occasional use, eg a 1960’s Nuffield tractor, little Fiat from probably 1980, I’d bet they still have the Mack B-series truck too although it was replaced 15 years ago.
Today’s agriculture, horticulture, fruit cultivation etc. is high-tech, from A to Z. I always smile when I see those ridiculous ads and TV-commercials with idyllic rural scenery, farming 50 years ago in the year 2013.
20 cows, 2 sheep and 5 hens running around the farm as happy campers, that kind of stuff.
I have written before about my father’s Oliver 550, a much smaller tractor than this one. This was (to me, another city boy) one of the big ones.
I would imagine that your father could do a little online commerce with his stash of NOS Oliver decals.
Probably could. Probably won’t.
Your mother assures that we do still have a stack of the Oliver Decals. The suggestion up thread that they might have considerable value had not crossed my mind.
I’d buy one. With the “fellow contributor” discount applied of course… 🙂
Oh, I’m sure there’s a gang of old-time Oliver lovers who’d snap them up, Dad, but finding those guys would be the trick.
Ebay is your friend.
There’s a market for almost ANYTHING…as long as you can make the case it’s rare or discontinued.
Not a common brand here though some do exist. Importing goods and vehicles from the US was not cost effective in NZ our govt taxed anything not from a Commonwealth country very highly after WW2 somehow American vehicles became luxury items based only on price not quality. Plenty of old ones about though A friend collects tractors in a small way mostly Fordsons and Fergusons but major collectors are about with all the makes under the sun and get seen and photographed at shows, Found this piece of garden art recently in JD colours, theres a closeup on the cohort.
My father’s first bulldozer was a Cletrac AG – A for the small model, G for gasoline engine. It wasn’t until I was 12 or so and the little green OIiver crawler tractors came out that I found out Pop’s old dozer was actually an Oliver Cletrac. The Cletrac name was shortened from Cleveland Tractor iirc.
In the late ’50s and early ’60s, the farming community that my mother’s family farm was in saw Ford two-bottom plow, Minneapolis-Moline 3 three-bottom plow, and numerous International Harvester models. In spite of living only 30 miles or so from Moline, IL, we didn’t see a whole lot of Deeres. I’m sure they were there, I just didn’t see them. I also saw Olivers and Cases. I later worked as a consultant for Deere designing recreational products, but occasionally did a bit of work on the green things. Although I love Deere, I miss the competition.
This is from the same timeframe and is about the same size and power class as my Allis Chalmers 190 (well, actually, it would be more a match for the 190 XT turbodiesel). Even though mine is just the normally aspirated gas version, it sure has lots of grunt (love to hear the straight six workin’ hard!).
Awesome! As the son of a son of a farmer (and the son of a farmer…and the son of a son of a son of a farmer…come to think of it, I’m gonna end up being the first non-farmer in my line) I’m always happy to see more ag-related postings.
I’ve never known too much about Olivers (green is my color, but usually paired with yellow), but I’ve always liked the late-60’s models (like this 1950-T, but especially, say, a 2150 with mechanical front-assist…ooh, I’ve got goosebumps…).
Come to think of it, all the tractors (esp. turbocharged) that came out of the “horsepower wars” of the late-60’s/early 70’s were really something neat. The “bee’s knees,” if you will. It was an exciting time for tractor manufacturers, it really was.
Thanks for adding a little historical perspective! I wasn’t aware that there were horsepower wars among tractor manufacturers at that time. I thought it was mighty odd to add a turbocharger to a tractor, but now I kind of get it.
I love old tractors that run. Mine does barely. It would probably benefit from a more mechanically proficient owner.
Why did Oliver sell out to White?
I don’t know. I am under the impression, perhaps mistaken, that when the purchase happened in 1962 it was a time of some consolidation in the industry.
There was a lot of shakeup in the industry in those years…the above purchase, the breakup of Allis-Chalmers; all the way to the purchase and merger of Case and IH’s tractor division into an offshore conglomerate, AGCO.
There were a lot of forces at work here. The profit margins in farming were getting thinner and thinner; many family farms just couldn’t afford new equipment. So a shrinking and changing market…the growth was in new larger tractors used by corporate farms (who could find a way to pay for them). Then, the general malaise in business…White was circling the bowl during that time, losing market share and finally being dismembered in Bankruptcy Court. Ford was in trouble, too, and its small-tractor line, once so important, was marginalized and finally moved offshore. And the International Harvester story is well known.
It’s kinda sad to regard, what’s happened and keeps happening to industrial employees. A good company, goes into play…is purchased by “operators,” often from a struggling company…the workplace becomes ugly, and finally the whole thing shuts down.
Been there, done that.
Postscript: The final remnants of White…is the White brand of LAWN TRACTOR made by MTD and sold through Home Depot and big-box stores. Amazingly tragic comedown….
Okay. I stand corrected on all this.
Obviously, I drew from offhand knowledge and assumptions, without doing any research. Just shooting from the hip, keeping the conversation going.
I was of the impression that AGCO had based itself in Europe. Haven’t looked yet. I also wasn’t aware that Ford had sold off their tractor brand…I remember reading in the news decades ago that they’d closed their American tractor lines, and were importing all their tractors. That was the last I’d taken notice.
CaseIH is just a brand, these days. You can see some of the same tractors, rigged with industrial paint and equipment, over at the Case construction-equipment division sales outlet. Case isn’t Case; any more than there is an IH. It’s one big happy family…same design, many brands.
Not unlike MTD’s White lawn tractors…same ones sold as MTD or Cub Cadette.
As far as I know AGCO is an American based company.
Tractor brands: Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson, Valtra
Case New Holland is a member of the Fiat Group.
Tractor brands: Case IH, New Holland, Steyr
Hence the FPT (Fiat) diesel engines
Just like the car and truck industry it’s all about globalisation and economies of scale.
Just to clear things up, both Case and IH, or CaseIH as it’s been called since their 1985 merger, are a part of CNH Global, which also includes Ford’s former tractor line now marketed as New Holland. CNH Global is controlled by Fiat and is headquartered in The Netherlands.
AGCO was born in 1989 when former executives of Allis Chalmers became fed up with KHD’s mismanagement of Deutz-Allis (Allis sold its farm equip. division to KHD of Germany in 1985, who merged Allis with their Deutz line of equipment) and purchased D-A’s assets from KHD and formed the Allis-Gleaner Company, or AGCO, and built new headquarters in Duluth, GA. AGCO itself has grown tremendously since then and has acquired both Massey Ferguson and Caterpillar’s agricultural tractor division plus both Fendt and Valtra of Europe. AGCO now rivals both Deere and CNH and Massey Ferguson is, from what I’ve read recently, the most popular brand of tractors sold around the world.
Steyr, Fendt and John Deere are the “premium brands” here.
(Yes, farmers are just like car and truck enthusiasts…)
White Motor Corp. actually purchased most of Oliver in 1960, with some of Oliver’s assets going to Amerada Hess (Oliver was in financial difficulty as early as 1958.) White then acquired Cockshutt Farm Equipment of Canada in 1961 and folded it into Oliver (The Cockshutt brand was kept alive using Oliver models painted Cockshutt colors.). In 1962, White then purchased Minneapolis-Moline, but operated it as a seperate division due to U.S. anti-trust laws. White then formed White Farm Equipment in 1969, and all three brands were essentially merged. For the 1970 model year, both Cockshutt and MM tractors were Olivers painted in each brand’s respective colors. This arrangement was kept until 1974 when White pulled the plug on all three brands and introduced newly styled grey and silver colored machines marketed as White. White itself would undergo several acquisitions and mergers throughout the 1980’s until it was acquied by AGCO (Allis-Gleaner Co.) in 1991. AGCO kept the White brand alive until 2001 when it was phased out in favor of AGCO’s new Challenger brand.
I work for and with farmers and it’s great to see all that new and old equipment at the farms. Some only want the latest high-tech equipment and others ONLY want older tractors, the DIY guys when it comes to repairs and maintenance.
Restored “trailer queen” tractors often is their (or their father’s) passion. The tractors from their younger years, just like classic car enthusiasts. The nicest and biggest oldtimer I saw at a farm was a fully restored
1954 John Deere 70-series diesel.
My dad’s cousins have a dairy farm. They still work with Ford tractors from the eighties on a daily basis. A big 8000 series and a smaller 4000 series. Great sound when the big one is pulling a plough through the heavy clay soil !
My grandfather had mostly Olivers, and I grew up driving Oliver 77, 770, and 1650s pulling a haybaler during summers in SE Minnesota. The 1650 had power steering so that was my favorite to drive as a 10 year old, although the 77 had the best styling. Solid tractors that were much smoother than the 2 cylinder JD and 4 cylinder Farmalls, although I am still very partial to the JD put-put sound.
Nice. I had a great-uncle in the ’40s who wouldn’t even consider anything but an Oliver tractor.