The Barnyard Brute: The Oliver 990

Oliver 990
This big ol’ Oliver 990 sells at a Nebraska farm equipment auction on August 23, 2020. Click the photo to see the details!

If you’ve read this email for more than a month, then you probably know I have a thing for machines that make cool noises. The Oliver 990 definitely fits in this category as far as I’m concerned. Two-stroke GM Diesel motors make a very unique sound, and I love that.

The late ’50s were sort of a golden age in farming. Farmers were expanding operations and with that came the call for bigger equipment and bigger power. Oliver answered that call with the 990, a straight-up barnyard brute. Rated from the factory at 93 horse, this was nearly the biggest machine in Oliver’s lineup! It was efficient horsepower, too, at least for one farmer from Colorado. He told the folks at GM that he was able to plow 76% more ground per hour with his 990, and it nearly cut his cost/acre in half! Hard to argue with those numbers!

No, I can’t believe that I wrote that a GM 2-stroke diesel was “efficient horsepower” either… #irony

It’s been said that the proper way to operate a GM Diesel 2-stroke is to get good and mad at it; like, slam your hand in the shop door and then get behind the wheel…that kind of mad. To hear what one of these bad boys sounds like under load, check out this little clip from the 2015 Half Century of Progress Show. With a 4-bottom plow behind it, this one wasn’t even breathing heavy.¬†They were big tough tractors then, and they’re still beefy by today’s standards!

They’re also pretty collectible. Oliver only made about 1800 of these tractors during the production run. This one has had an older restoration, and has been living in an Oliver collection in Nebraska. It sells on August 23, and it’s sure to draw quite a bit of attention as the auction gets closer!

If you need more Oliver in your life…you’ll find your next one here.