A New Old Dealership


| August 2001



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A worker puts the finishing touches

In 1959, the John Deere Company introduced its line of 'New Generation' tractors. The tractors provided the farmers who used them with a considerably more powerful six-cylinder engine, but marked the end of an era for John Deere. The two-cylinder type engines would fade from showroom floors over the next few years, finally disappearing from Deere dealerships in the early 1960s. Many fans of the old 'Johnny Poppers,' who had spent much of their youths in the seats of John Deere Ds and Bs, were sad to see them go. But, as we all know, you can't relive the past.

Or can you?

On August 10-11, the John Deere Foundation will celebrate the grand opening of the Moline Tractor & Plow Co., a multi-million dollar replica of a 1950s-era John Deere dealership. The showroom will feature the classic tractors and implements that helped make John Deere a household name in farm towns across America.

The idea for the facility, says LuAnn Haydon, manager of the John Deere Pavilion and John Deere Foundation facilities, came from collectors and visitors to the John Deere Pavilion, where there are displays of both new and old John Deere products. 'Since the Pavilion was built in 1997, we have been hosting about a quarter of a million people a year,' she says. 'The comments we kept hearing from visitors were, 'Where can we find more of these two-cylinder tractors?' These were the tractors they had grown up with and they wanted to see them again.'

The facility will feature a full showroom stocked with 'new' 1950s-era tractors; a working repair/restoration shop; a display area showcasing tractors and implements (some John Deere Collectors Center members' being sold on consignment); a specialty retail shop; and - perhaps the best news for collectors - an over-the-counter parts department.

The feel of the 1950s will extend beyond equipment (equipment, in fact, could date to the beginning of the John Deere company). Jeff McManus, manager of the Moline Tractor & Plow Co., says that a visit there will be like actually visiting the past. 'There'll be a pop machine, '50s music, ball games and news on the radio. Every person you see working there will be wearing a '50s-vintage uniform. Computers will be hidden. The phones, the furniture, the floors and ceilings, everything will be '50s.'