Purple Oliver is a show stopper
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 09/20/2012 9:41 AM
BOONE, Iowa —Gerald Morgan's purple Oliver is, well, a show stopper.
"The women all love it, and the guys aren't sure if they like it or not," Morgan said.
His unique Oliver was on display at last week's Farm Progress Show in Boone. Morgan's Oliver 1850 was manufactured in Charles City in 1966.
"In the old literature, I read that in 1966 they pulled an Oliver off the assembly line and painted it purple," Morgan said. "Gene Kuehn, who was a manager at the time, took it around to shows. It was a sales gimmick. They wanted one tractor that would catch people's eyes and stand out."
Morgan said Kuehn's pitch was no matter what color your tractor , this is the plow for your tractors. The program was called the Color-Blind Plow.
"They were trying to get the John Deere and International people to buy Oliver plows and pull behind their tractors, and it worked really well," Morgan said. "They sold a lot of plows."
There was only one purple Oliver when they did the promotion.
"But I think, and I cannot find any documentation, that there were a few more made a couple of years later and sent to different parts of the United States to sell plows again," Morgan said.
Kuehn now lives near Minneapolis. He went with Morgan to the Mount Pleasant Midwest Threshing Show and told the story of the purple tractor.
"He really helped me with this project," Morgan said.
Morgan has a green Oliver plow to go with the purple tractor.
"It was a one-year gimmick that worked," Morgan said. "At the end of the year, the tractor was sent back to Charles City, sand blasted, painted green and sold. Back in 1966, I don't think they could have given this purple tractor to an Iowa farmer. It was kind of a gutsy thing for me to paint this one purple four years ago. I'm an Oliver guy, and all my other Olivers are green, but I wanted to do this to show a piece of Oliver history."
Morgan asked Kuehn if there was any way to track what became of the original purple tractor.
"He told me they didn't care about keeping track of it because it didn't make any difference," Morgan said. "No one knows which tractor it was."
Morgan found a color advertisement for the tractor at the Floyd County Museum in Charles City.
"This tractor is an eye catcher and a piece of history," Morgan said.
Morgan's purple Oliver is featured in the Classic Farm Tractors Calendar for 2013.
Morgan is president of the Iowa Oliver Club and travels to shows with Olivers. His purple tractor was displayed at the Farm Progress Show two years ago. It's been at the Mount Pleasant Midwest Threshing Show and at the Belmond threshing show.
Morgan isn't sure how many antique tractors he owns, but thinks he has 14 Olivers and at least 14 tractors "of everything else."
Morgan uses John Deere tractors for his farming operation.