Russ' Vintage Iron

New Vintage Iron Information

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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The other day I was interviewing a person and after the interview he asked me about old tractors. The media person who arranged and sat in on the interview knows of my love of vintage iron and so she must have told the person this intel.

Anyway he was telling me about his dad, a retired Corn Belt farmer, who has a collection of John Deere tractors and he listed some of the models he had. His listing stopped when he said he had an 820.

Automatically my mind jumps to the 820 two-cylinder version. He then says it is a three-cylinder, diesel tractor which was manufactured in Germany.

My first thought was "What are you talking about?" but those words didn't come out of my mouth.

Instead I was able to Google "John Deere 820 tractor+Germany" as we were talking and I quickly learned something I did not know before -- there were two series of John Deere 820s. He probably wondered why a vintage iron nut did not know this tidbit of knowledge, this goes to show you can learn something new every day even on a subject you thought you knew quite well.

After I got off the phone I quickly learned one 820 series was the two-cylinder tractor manufactured from 1956 to 1958 - the one was familiar with. The other series was a utility tractor 820 made from 1968 to 1973 -- the one I didn't know existed until last Friday.

According to, the two-cylinder 820 was manufactured at the Waterloo, Iowa, factory with 7,080 tractors produced in the four-year run. This 820 featured a 7.7-liter, 2-cylinder diesel engine.

The tractor also claimed 67 to 75 horsepower with the range being due to early and later versions and was a five- or six-plow tractor. A couple different people who live in our general area have 820s as I have seen them up close.

The utility version of the 820 was built at the Mannheim, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany factory and featured a 2.5-liter, 3-cylinder diesel engine. This tractor produced 32 horsepower and it would be pull a two-bottom, integral plow, according to the website.

One piece of information I was interesting in knowing that I couldn't locate was how many 820 utility tractors were manufactured in its six-year run. The number has to be fairly small as I have never seen an 820 on farm equipment auction before.

I tried to find this number but never did find an answer. Perhaps someone reading this column knows and could contact me with the answer.

After reading through some of the internet pages I felt a little better about not knowing there were two series of 820 tractors. The tractor-related message boards have several posting asking about the two-cylinder version when others were obviously discussing the three-cylinder tractor.

And I also learned the next series of utility tractor released by John Deere in the mid-1970s were the 830, another two-cylinder tractor. Again the message boards had some confusion on which version was being talked about.

I would hate to be the John Deere parts person in a region where people own both versions of the 820/830 tractors. You can only imagine how many times parts were ordered only to have them returned to the dealer because it was actually for the "other" tractor.

John Deere parts folks were probably asking themselves a lot what John Deere was thinking naming two different tractors series the same thing just 10 years apart.

Do you have any knowledge of either John Deere 820 tractors?

If you do please contact me so we can include your stories in upcoming columns. It would be interesting to know if I was only the one to not know there were two different 820s.

Russ Quinn can be reached at