aerodynamic tractor

Oliver 88 Orchard. An aerodynamic and futuristic tractor

At this point, it goes without saying how wrong Enzo Ferrari was when he said that "Aerodynamics is for those who do not know how to design engines". Far from being something only useful for competition, the treatment of a vehicle with the air is decisive even in the most prosaic of utility vehicles. In fact, fashions like SUVs put the issue back on the table. Evidencing how much fuel consumption can increase when little attention is paid to drag, something that at this time happens for the fun of enlarging cars to tank proportions.

Leaving Freudian debates aside, but convinced that in certain fashions there is more of a social appearance and phallic insecurity than of technological efficiency, we will say that in some vehicles the aerodynamics is not entirely decisive. One of them is the tractor. Always used at low speeds, its body panels do not have the need to penetrate the air gracefully. In fact, the outlet turbulence does not matter, nor how the cooling flows are distributed inside. For all this, it is quite strange to see aerodynamic tractors, equipped with designs as attractive as a car can have.

However, and showing that every rule always has exceptions, there are some examples of aerodynamic tractors. The most efficient is precisely the most recent. We talk about a JCB improved by Williams' aerodynamics department, capable of reaching 246 km / h last 2019. A great success that was achieved by improving the Cx by up to 25% with various panels studied using computer simulations. Screech back that finds in the forms of the Oliver 88 Orchard an antecedent marked by the futuristic design Inspired by the Cold War space race.

aerodynamic tractor


On April 1, 1929, four American agricultural machinery companies joined forces to create the Oliver Farm Equipement Company. Hailing from Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, these companies needed a leap forward in technology to avoid the reputation of being backward and due to rapid planned obsolescence. So they came together to create one of the main consortiums dedicated to industrial vehicles, against the backdrop of an economy riding the crest of the credit wave. However, the operation of these waves of bonanza is the same as those formed in the sea, always finding an obstacle against which to break.

In this way, in October of that same year, the Wall Street Crack arrived. Suddenly the banks went bankrupt in a domino effect, dragging companies and families with them. Many of them agricultural, which had to abandon their properties to hit the road to the wages of promising California. An exodus canonically narrated by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men. Unfavorable scenario for an agricultural machinery company, especially when it has as clients those same families who have been stripped of their ownership status to be relegated to that of day laborers.

However, the Oliver Farm Equipement Company it managed to get ahead, continuing until in 1960 it was absorbed by the White Motor Corporation. A career in which two key elements prevailed: innovation and diesel. Especially when, after World War II, Oliver Farm stood out with the best range of tractors of the moment. Most of them equipped with innovative and efficient and durable diesel engines. An achievement with which, in the end, the bad reputation associated with some of the companies reunited in the 1929 merger was averted.


Defeated the Nazis, fascists and Japanese imperialists after World War II, the world was divided into two zones of influence led by the United States and the Soviet Union respectively. Here began the Cold War, characterized by a suicidal technological development that had one of its greatest fronts in space. And it is that, with a mixture of propaganda and strategic dominance, leaving the atmosphere was a condition to show chest before the rival power. In that context, American society was imbued with a galactic fascination with clear reflection in the industrial design. From toasters to cars, everything was reminiscent of a chrome rocket.

aerodynamic tractor

An image that even infected pedestrian agricultural machinery, which was covered with designs such as the Oliver 88 Orchard. Produced between 1948 and 1954, the Oliver 88 It was one of the three tractors with which the company stood out during the postwar period along with the 66 and 77. A successful saga that was replaced in 1954 with the appearance of the Super 55, the brand's first compact tractor. Equipped with six-cylinder engines in both gasoline and diesel, the Oliver 88 featured an Art Deco-evocative front end. A careful design little seen for agricultural machinery.

In fact, this concern for appearance went so far that the Oliver 88 came to have a very special version: the Orchard. In her the rear wheels were faired with huge fenders able to blend smoothly with the rest of the tractor lines. And that is not to mention the mime since almost all the elements were within this aerodynamic shape, hardly highlighting any outside a well-defined contour. Uniformity that was also seen in the chromatic use. Leaving the factory always in a green combined with the grill in yellow and certain details in red. For all these reasons the Oliver 88 Orchard is one of the tractors visually more balanced. Even more than the Porsche Junior 108S.

Photographs: Mecum Auctions

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Miguel Sánchez

Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.


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