Russ' Vintage Iron

Ford Gold Demonstrator Tractors: A Coveted Rarity

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Ford Tractor dealers were supposed to have at least one Select-O-Speed demonstrator tractor painted gold on hand as a sales tool. (Photo by dave_7, CC BY 2.0)

A few weeks ago, I read an article about interesting paint schemes of vintage tractors. Included in the article was the white Farmalls (Cub, Super A and C tractors) of 1950 and the International gold demonstrator tractors (544, 656, 826, 1026 and 1456) of 1970.

The article also discussed another interesting marketing ploy - the Ford gold demonstrator tractor.

I touched on this subject back in 2017 when I wrote about vintage iron oddities (see…). I've also written about IH gold demonstrator tractors, that same year, at….

To recap, Ford introduced the new Select-O-Speed transmission in 1959 on the "01 series" (501, 601, 701, 801 and 901). The transmission gave the tractor operator a wide range of ratios with 10 speeds forward and 2 reverse, all done with the use of hydraulic clutch packs, bands and planetary gears with no shifting, according to Ford Collectors Association, Inc. (…).

Ford Tractor Company launched one of the largest ad campaigns in the history of the company to pump up the sales of the new Select-O-Speed transmissions. According to the website, every Ford Tractor dealer had to have at least one Select-O-Speed demonstrator tractor painted gold on hand as a sales tool.

Unfortunately, the release of the new transmission occurred before all the bugs were worked out of it and soon it developed a bad reputation as being troublesome and unreliable. The company backed the transmission, the repairs were 100% under warranty and within a year or so the issues had been worked out.

This situation, however, haunted Ford Tractor for many years and the Select-O-Speed has kept this stigma to this day as many consider it difficult to work on and very few people know how to work on the transmission. The surviving gold demonstrator tractors are very collectable today, according to the website.

A blog I visited seemed to question several aspects of the Ford gold demonstrator story (…).

The blog's writer said each Ford dealer was supposed to have at least one, but it claimed some dealers just flat out refused to participate in the program. In 1959, there were more than 2,000 Ford dealers in the country, so there could be quite a few tractors which were painted gold. No one knows for sure how many of these tractors there actually were, according to the blog.

This same blog discussed the vast majority of gold demonstrators having low serial numbers. You would think all of these tractors would have the Select-O-Speed transmission because, well, this was the whole point of the gold tractors, but the blog stated that research showed some dealers also ordered different configurations, including standard gear shift tractor.

So, this might suggest that there are some gold demonstrators without the Select-O-Speed transmissions. Ford gold demonstrators are highly sought after by collectors, but can you imagine how coveted a regular transmission Ford gold demonstrator tractor would be?

I really don't have much experience with Ford tractors. One of my married-into-our-family uncle's dads had an old all grey Ferguson tractor I can remember from my childhood. I'm not sure what model it was, but I do remember my uncle having it in the shed in town.

About the only other time I have been around Ford tractors is we have a family friend who has a collection of Ford tractors. I believe his tractors are from the number series, which I can never keep straight in my brain.

From writing this column, I have learned there was the hundred series, the 01 series and the thousand series. I am fairly confident that most of his tractors are from these three series.

The other thing about his handful of Ford tractors is just about everyone has a different color paint job. I know one is completely red, I think another one is all blue and one has a blue/white or blue/grey combination.

Do you collect Ford tractors? Do you have a gold demonstrator? I would be interested to hear the story of this particular tractor if you do. Please send me your story.

Russ Quinn can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

Russ Quinn can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN