Virginia is for Olivers

A Virginia man collects and works Oliver tractors like those he grew up with, including a Row Crop 77 that took over 20 years to acquire.

| January 2019

  • Robert Gregory’s Oliver 1755.
    Photo by Rocky Womack
  • This 1957 Super 44 earns its keep as a 1-row cultivating tractor on Robert’s farm.
    Photo by Rocky Womack
  • This “Virginia is for Olivers” sticker is proudly displayed on Robert’s pickup.
    Photo by Rocky Womack
  • This 1955 Oliver Super 55 was restored by Wesley and Harold Culler, who operate a tractor restoration business near Seagrove, N.C.
    Photo by Rocky Womack
  • Robert’s 1972 Oliver 1655 remains in active use on the farm.
    Photo by Rocky Womack
  • This tricycle-type 1953 Oliver Row Crop 77 is in the regular rotation on Robert’s farm.
    Photo by Rocky Womack
  • This White 7300 combine is one of three that Robert still puts to work in the field.
    Photo by Rocky Womack
  • Robert Gregory with his 1955 Oliver Super 55.
    Photo by Rocky Womack

Robert Gregory’s youth in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, was spent on Oliver tractors. He remembers adapting a 1965 Oliver 1550 by front-mounting a John Deere 2-row cultivator onto the frame.

“It was a tricycle tractor,” he says, “and you’re sitting way up. It was perfect for plowing tobacco. Two rows were the thing back then, not four.”

Later, farming in Java, Virginia, Robert used the modified Oliver to cultivate flue-cured tobacco at night, when the leaves were more upright, allowing him to push soil closer to the plant.

One morning at about 3 a.m., he was cultivating when he became drowsy. “I was just going to put it in neutral when I got to the end of the field, and I’d lay my head on the steering wheel and leave the tractor running for like two minutes,” he says. “The next thing I know, the sun is up. I’m still sitting there, and that tractor’s running. I was asleep with my arms and head on the steering wheel. I will never forget that. I put most of my teenage life in on that thing. I mean, long days!”

Building a Collection

Robert’s interest in Olivers continues, but he doesn’t consider himself a “true collector,” reserving that title for those with big collections. That said, he has eight Olivers in his collection: a 1952 Row Crop 66, a 1953 Row Crop 77, a 1955 Super 55, a 1957 Super 44, a 1964 Row Crop 770, a 1972 1655, a 1972 1755 and a 1974 1755.

Of those eight Olivers, he still uses seven on the farm. One – a 1955 Super 55 – is a show tractor given to him by his wife, Sue, as a surprise Christmas present in 2011.


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