These gold demonstrator tractors were produced to promote Ford’s new Select-O-Speed transmission. Each Ford dealer was intended to have at least one gold demonstrator tractor, however, there is some argument as to whether every single dealer actually got one. Some sources say that they were forced to order at least one, other sources say that some dealers flat-out refused to participate. At this time in history there were well over 2,000 dealers so quite a few Ford tractors were painted gold for demonstration purposes.
Research also shows that the vast majority of gold demonstrators have select-o-speed transmissions and low serial numbers. However, some of the dealers who were late to comply with the gold demonstrator program received later serial numbers. Research also suggests that some dealers also ordered different configurations, including standard gear shift tractors. I’ve never seen one of these, though – all the gold demonstrators I’ve seen have select-o-speed transmissions and early serial numbers from 1959.
Salesmen were encouraged to take these tractors around to visit local farmers. With the farmer’s permission, the salesman would work alongside the farmer – hopefully proving that the Ford tractor was superior to the farmer’s John Deere, Farmall, etc. When a farmer purchased a gold tractor they could elect to have it re-painted to red/gray or they could keep it gold. Because we don’t (at least to my knowledge) have reliable records of the serial numbers of tractors that were used as demonstrators, we rely on uncovering the original paint to determine if the tractor was a demonstrator. How fun to discover a true gold demonstrator tractor!
These tractors were expertly restored and consigned by Jeff Cormany from Columbia City, Indiana. He was kind enough to let me drive the 871 through the auction. The Ford 881 sold first for $11,000 plus 4% buyer’s premium. It had new tires, a rebuilt engine and power steering. The restoration was quality all around. The Ford 871 bidding ended at $7,500 which was shy of the reserve. This tractor, too, had new tires, a rebuilt engine and power steering.
How about you – have you ever seen one of these gold demonstrator tractors? Let me know in the comments below.