Russ' Vintage Iron

More on Vintage Iron Oddities

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Last month, I wrote a column about learning there were actually two different model 820 (and 830 as well) vintage tractors manufactured by John Deere. I learned that talking to a person I was interviewing for another article I was working on. To review, the first 820/830 series were two-cylinder tractors built in the late 1950s. The second series was a three-cylinder tractor built in the 1970s in Germany by Deere.

I also wrote that if anyone reading this column had more information about this series of tractor to please contact me and let me know your thoughts.

Here is one of the responses I received to last month's column from Paul Miller of south-central Minnesota:

"In your last column you were interested in JD 820 and 830 utility tractors. In March 1976 I traded a Ferguson 30 tractor and loader for a new JD 830 utility tractor with loader.

"It was a three-cylinder made in Germany. The list price was $8,589. I never had any problems with it, but I also was never satisfied with the open center hydraulic system while I owned it.

"I later traded it for a JD 2240."

Thanks to Paul for the story about his John Deere 830.

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There appear to be many interesting vintage iron oddities like the multiple 820s/830s. I'm familiar with a few of these -- maybe you know of more.

One that jumps to my mind, as a John Deere person, is the model GM. This model is the basic model G, which was manufactured from 1937 to 1953, which Deere termed "G Modernized."

The GM designation was created to receive government approval for a World War II-time price increase, according to information from tractordata.com. The GM was made from 1942 to 1947. After 1947, the model reverted back to model G.

As far as differences between a G and GM, I'm not sure there were any physical differences. The GM is listed as a variant on the model G page of tractordata.com. Deere wanted to raise the price of the G after it was styled, and the only way they could do that was to change the model name.

Another interesting oddity in the wonderful world of farm equipment is the International Gold Demonstrator tractor program.

This program was started in 1970 when International announced the program to its dealers, according to info I found on various websites. Certain tractors (the 544, 656, 826, 1026 and the 1456) were painted a golden color -- or at least the hood and fenders of the tractors were painted gold, while the rest of the tractor was painted red.

These tractors also had a decal on the side of the hood that read "Demonstrator." The program was meant to draw attention to the new hydrostatic transmission, but gold demonstrators were also available in gear drive.

IH wasn't the only -- or even the first -- tractor company to produce a gold demonstrator. Ford also had gold tractors. These tractors were produced to promote Ford's new Select-O-Speed transmission, starting in 1959, according to various websites I visited.

Each Ford equipment dealer got a gold demonstrator. Therefore, if every dealer got one, there would have been about 2,000 gold units manufactured since there were about that many Ford dealers at that time. Most of these tractors were the model 881 standards early in the production. Later, it included the 901 row crop and 1801 industrials.

One interesting note with both gold demonstrator programs for International and Ford: The owners of the tractors had the option of leaving the gold paint on the machines, or they could have these tractors repainted to the regular colors. Considering I haven't seen too many gold tractors from either manufacturer, I would guess these machines would be highly sought after by vintage iron collectors.

While I don't know anyone personally who owned Ford's gold demonstrator tractor, I do know of a family friend who owns at least one International gold demonstrator. He may actually own more than that in their extensive IH tractor collection.

Are there other interesting vintage iron oddities that I didn't mention in this column? Send me a note and let me know, especially if they involve other tractor companies.

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

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