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Fancy Farmer: 1952 Oliver 77 Row-Crop

As a post-WWII gentleman farmer you may have had a tractor like this 1952 Oliver 77 Row-Crop. Or, you may have wanted one. This sleek, “styled” tractor is posted on Craigslist in Ansley, Nebraska with a $2,800 asking price. The description and photos can be found here when the listing disappears. Oliver’s beautiful Fleetline series of tractors weren’t made for too many years but they sure made an impact on generations of farmers, and on kids like me.

The favorite part of our state fair used to be “machinery hill” where tractors and related equipment were spread out for acres. It’s now known as “lawn mower hill” because tractors slowly became the tools of huge corporate farming operations instead of small family farmers. There are still family farms, of course, but they’re few and far-between compared to the post-war era. Tractors like the Oliver Fleetline series were really stylish, as far as tractors went. The stylized models enclosed the mechanicals which not only looked sleek but helped with orchards and similar crops to keep branches and other debris out of the mechanical bits.

Although they all had a purpose, there can be a healthy debate among farmers and tractor collectors as to which front wheel configuration is more important to the overall history of farming, which was safer, easier to drive, more collectible, etc., between tricycle configuration tractors like this 77 Row-Crop or tractors having a wider stance. The Oliver 77 was made between 1948 and 1954 and they were beautifully designed, but the company wasn’t even in the same league, sales-wise, as the “other green tractor” company was, and still is. The 77 was available with a wide front axle, known as the “Standard“, the “Row-Crop” as seen here, and also as the “Orchard” with covered fenders and a lower profile. The company followed up with the Super 77 made until 1958. After that, the era of the old-style tractor was disappearing. Their 770 models which followed the Super 77 Series were much more modern in appearance.

Here’s the business end of this 77. This one is set up with a “5′ belly mower”, according to the seller, who says that it’s in “Excellent condition, near new rear tires.” It looks like it may have been restored at some point but a lot of them have been by now. They were used hard and often left outside for extended periods, or were left under a lean-to, so they were subjected to the elements. The serial number on this 77 Row-Crop pegs it as being a 1950 model but the seller has it listed as a 1952 model, maybe it wasn’t sold until 1952?

A lot of times, tractors were painted to keep rust at bay so it was often more of a pragmatic exercise than a beautification or restoration exercise. There is no word on which engine is housed under that beautiful shrouding but there were six-cylinder gas, LP, and diesel versions, made by Waukesha-Oliver. This beautiful workhorse would have cost around $3,000 in the early-1950s, an equivalent of $28,200 in 2018 dollars, around the price of a new skid-steer loader. Are any of you collectors or fans of old tractors? If so, what are your thoughts on the sleek Oliver Fleetline series?

Comments

  1. Dirk

    What? A farm tractor? In Nebraska? Really? Well that’s a surprise.

    Like 1
  2. JW

    Went to a car show in Smithville, Missouri and a lady farmer had a collection of her antique tractors on display, she had a John Deere, Massey Ferguson, Ford, Oliver. They were all in near mint condition and she had quite a crowd of people looking at them.

    Like 1
  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    Old tractors are gaining a whole new popularity. There’s 3 clubs near home where kids in their teens are joining up. A friend of mine told one lad: “Pay close attention to what I’m doing; there’s going to come a time when everything I know will be buried with me. There’s three lads who’ve restored the Super 99 version from Oliver. Those have the Detroit 3-71, and they did an excellent job.

    Like 2
  4. Mattyou63

    If you grew up in a rural area in to 60’s. Old tractors and old hot rods were in every farm yard.great time to be young.

    Like 2
  5. KSwheatfarmer

    Same story with old tractors as old cars,cheeper to buy one already done than pay for a restoration. But then you don’t have grandpa’s tractor. All boils down to what sentimental value is worth.I’ve seen nice tractors sold after a do-it-yourself job not even recoup the price of the new tires and paint materials. Guess that’s what has been keeping me from starting on my grandpa’s I H C Super-M.

    Like 0
    • Metoo

      A labor of love has some merit. Depending on your level of disposable income, it ain’t always about the money.

      Like 1
  6. Matt Member

    Here in SD, some of these are still used on farms. Old tractors are the very useful, my favorite is a 61 Farmall 504, with f11 loader.

    Like 2
  7. Rube Goldberg Member

    Olivers, at least in Wisconsin, always played 2nd fiddle to another well known green and yellow tractor. JD is a great tractor, but Oliver was just as good. They all are really ( except that awful Leyland, but that’s another story) Oliver was more known for it’s tracked vehicles and it’s implements around us. I think the tractors were made in Iowa, but the plows were made in South Bend, and all that remains of the factory is the tell tale smokestack with the word “Oliver” on it.
    As the author states, with the loss of small farms, vintage tractors live cushy lives today, mostly as grass cutters or end loaders, they pale in comparison to modern tractors, but make no mistake, at one time, these were the workhorse of the farm, and did everything BUT cut the grass. I don’t have much experience with an Oliver, but they all operate pretty much the same, except for the shifting, which every tractor seems to have their own setup. Confused by that shift pattern too? Takes some getting used to, and most the ranges aren’t needed today for cutting grass. My favorite mid-size tractor on the farm I lived on, was without question, the A-C D17.
    Now, about that POS Leyland,,,,

    Like 0
  8. Matthew Paulsen

    The seat on this one is wrong. It should have a dish style seat. This one looks like it came off of a John Deere.

    Like 0
    • Dean

      I was going to say the same thing. Even the “Be Careful” decal reminds me of the one on our John Deere “R”.

      Like 0
      • Ken

        All tractor makes had the same “Be Careful” decal on them. My dad’s 1950 Oliver 66 had one, and I’ve seen them on Farmalls, too. Probably government mandated.

        My dad’s Oliver was a single-wheel front and was equipped with a loader. Single-wheel setups are preferable if you work primarily in muddy conditions.

        Like 1
  9. Metoo

    First time I ever heard of the brand. Could you still get any needed parts?

    Like 0
  10. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I’d take this Ollie all day over that Posche tractor last week. These get a ton of on lookers at tractor shows around here. JD’s outnumber them 20 to 1. Probably more. To me, kind of like walking past the 57 Chevy to look at the Rambler ragtop. I like it! Lots of parts around Metoo.

    Like 0
  11. 86 Vette Convertible

    Growing up on the farm we hired out in the summer months for things like putting up hay. We had one guy that owned Olivers, which I drove on a few occasions. Not that common around Iowa but definitely good machines but not a lot of them around.

    Not a bad price for a good tractor. IIRC they had a pretty good highway gear in them too, more like an IH rather than a John Deere.

    Like 1
  12. chad

    “Are any of you collectors or fans of old tractors?”
    guy here has what he calls his ‘heavy metal museum’ – collection of “the other green tractors” – full range: lill – huge (1 so big needs a lill 4 cylinder phony motor 2 start big’un), early – last yrs. Mostly 2 cyl diesels. No farm but an ‘earth company’ (moves dirt 4 whatever – cellar holes, landscapin, forest clearance/grading, etc). His dozer, dumps, backhoe & rd tractor get the only use. 20? tractors just for fun (R, M, B, 750, can’t remember all the models).

    Like 0
  13. TouringFordor

    We had an Oliver Super 88 diesel. Great tractor, but hard to start in winter with the 6 volt electrical system.

    Like 0
  14. Snotty

    In the early 70’s, when I was a skinny barely teen,tee-shirtless kid,field dust from head to toe. When I wasn’t going round n round on a 4010 John Deere, I would operate a 1954 International W-6,with armstrong steering,not bad in the field, but the Road gear on the thing was scary fast,with just enough slack in the front end,to make things interesting on the western Kansas chalk roads add a 3 bottom plow to the equation,looking back,musta been the grace of God,that steered me clear of trouble…Would sure like to lay eyes on that tractor once again.

    Like 2

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