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Mist-Green Oliver Was Product of Marketing StrategyMist-Green Oliver Was Product of Marketing Strategy

Failed marketing strategy makes this antique Oliver 880 tractor unique.

Tom Bechman 1

August 22, 2014

2 Min Read

Richard Cart parked his mist-green Oliver 880 on the front row of antique tractors at the Indiana State Fair this summer. Indeed, Cart, of Jefferson County, displayed a unique tractor.

The original color for Oliver was meadow green. Why did a few 880 models leave the factory painted mist green? Cart included a description of the story on the tractor grill so passersby could get a glimpse into history.

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The information was verified in "Classic Oliver Tractors'" by Sherry Schaefer and Jeff Hackett. It seems that when Oliver introduced the 660, 770 and 880, the 770 and 880 were about the same physical size. Meanwhile, International Harvester brought out the Farmall 560, which looked bigger than the Oliver 880. It also featured a six-cylinder engine. Of course this was long before farmers discovered problems with the rear end of Farmall 560's holding up to the workload the tractor was supposed to handle.

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Someone in marketing decided they could solve the problem by using a color which made the 880 stand out and appear larger than the 770. They selected a pastel color, mist green, and sold it to management. Production began in January 1959. At the same time, Oliver switched to a different kind of transmission in the 880.

About 250 mist green Oliver 880's were produced the first week, then workers went on strike. By the time production resumed, management had figured out that painting one tractor a different color with no implements or accessories to match wasn't the brightest move in the world. They canceled the program before production started again.

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Chatter on Internet sites claims the mist-green Oliver 880 was so poorly accepted by farmers that at least some were repainted meadow green just to get them sold. One tractor owner claims he has one that was meadow green, but the mist green color was underneath. Serial numbers of the mist-green production are recorded. They were only made during that one week in January of 1959 at the Charles City, Iowa, plant.

Thanks, Richard, for displaying a tractor with history!

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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