What? Another rerun? Well, yes. You totally get what you pay for at Down the Road. This is a favorite post from 2010.

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.

Oliver 1850

You see, my dad worked in quality control for Oliver Corporation from about the mid 1960s, through the time the company became White Farm Equipment in the mid 1970s, to the day the plant gates were locked for the last time in the mid 1980s.

Oliver 1850 and Oliver 1800

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 hit pay dirt this year.

Oliver 1555

I don’t care at all about the White tractors. During the White years, Dad grew weary through repeated layoffs and the South Bend plant’s closing, after which he spent months unemployed. I associate White with bad times in our family. But Dad always seemed proud to make Oliver tractors. I remember no time when he was happier. The Oliver years were good to our family.

Oliver 1800

After Oliver gave way to White, my dad came home with stacks of castoff Oliver logo stickers like the one below. I’ll bet he still has some.

Oliver tractor

Also spotted at the Indiana State Fair: a 1939 International farm truck. See it here.


18 responses to “The Oliver years”

  1. Tori Nelson Avatar

    Thomas walked by while I was reading. He was PUMPED to see all the tractor photos. You’ve just made a 3-year-old’s day, Mr. :)

    1. Jim Avatar

      What is it about boys and heavy equipment?

  2. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    So you mean everything Oliver in these shots predates the 1980s? Wow, someone’s been taking really good care of them. I can see putting a ’57 Chevy up in your garage, but given these machines had to work all the time, for years, it’s astonishing they look so good.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yup. Farmers can be as proud of old farm equipment as others can be about old cars!

  3. davidvanilla Avatar

    Nice display! My first tractor driving experiences were on an Oliver, but it predated your father’s machines by more than a decade.

    1. Jim Avatar

      The only tractor I’ve ever driven is the one I got from Sears that cuts my grass!

  4. ryoko861 Avatar

    You and my son should get together some time. He loves a tractor! Almost bought a CASE IH a couple months ago. I said “Where on earth are going to keep it!!!?” I mean we have 9 cars already! And I don’t have vast acreage for him to plow! He’s hell bent on having one! Wait til I show him this!

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’m only truly interested in the ones Dad built! A buddy of mine did buy an old Ford tractor though.

  5. Bernie Kasper Avatar

    My father in law would love these, he tinkers with farm equipment all the time, nice post !!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thanks Bernie!

  6. pesoto74 Avatar

    I think Oliver made some of the best looking tractors. Although they were fairly rare around here when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. It seems like most of the tractors then were International or John Deere.

    1. Jim Avatar

      That might say something about why Oliver ultimately failed!

  7. Hope @ Fairhope Supply Co. Avatar

    You are such a boy!

    1. Jim Avatar


  8. Brian Avatar

    I like the story, I have a few Oliver tractors of my own. My latest is am Oliver 1800 A Series Gas. But I am missing the front emblem for the grill. Should be a good project to rebuild it. Great article!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Good luck finishing your restoration!

  9. David Avatar

    I enjoyed the article. I too am from Indiana, southern Indiana and grew up on a grain farm. I learned to drive on a Oliver 1850 not unlike the one you have pictured, except ours had the fuel tank fenders. Some of the best times in my life were sitting with my dad on that tractor in the field pulling a disk. Times seemed simpler then, oh how I miss those days. I have and always will have a soft spot for the Oliver in my heart. And that was the real green tractor, you could smoke a Deer all day long with it!!! Ha ha!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      David, thank you for sharing your story. I love to run into people who loved their Olivers!

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