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Oliver’s Super Dupers
By the mid-1950s, the writing was on the wall for agriculture. Farmers, particularly those living in the West and Midwest, wanted more horsepower from their tractors.
Looking to expand its market share, Oliver responded to that call with a new generation of machines that set horsepower standards that the tractor industry would follow for the next decade. Leading Oliver’s charge was the Super 99, introduced in 1954.
Beefy in appearance and big by any measure of the day, the Oliver Super 99 was sold with a choice of either gas or diesel engines. It was the diesel power plant and, in particular, a special model hosting a General Motors two-cycle engine that caught everyone’s eye at the time.
The 70-hp. barrier
The Super 99 GM turned out a whopping rated 71½ hp. at its belt. Under a drawbar load, the tractor generated 58½ hp., which justified its rating as a five- to six-bottom plow tractor.
The heart of this beast was a three-cylinder diesel with a relatively small displacement considering its horsepower output. The engine’s three cylinders (with a 4¼×5-inch bore-and-stroke per cylinder) combined for a displacement of 213 inches. This compares with 302 cubic inches in the six-cylinder diesel powering the regular Super 99.
This was a two-cycle engine that ran at a rated 1,675 rpm. Although it had just three cylinders, the engine developed as many power strokes as the regular diesel. Due to a supercharger that forced air into the cylinders during the beginning of the intake and compression strokes, the GM diesel developed more horsepower than a comparable-size six-cylinder diesel.
Power for the regular Oliver 99 came from an Oliver-Waukesha-built six-cylinder diesel with 65-belt hp. Both Super 99s were equipped with a six-speed transmission, independent PTO, belt pulley, and hydraulic system. Although both tractors were dressed in the same styling, the Super 99 GM hosted twin air stacks and a singular supercharger protruding from its engine that lent it a distinctive look in the field.
undisputed king of horsepower
By today’s standards, the Oliver 99s seem piddling, power wise. In the 1950s, however, rarely did wheeled tractors produce more than 60 hp. The only competition for the regular Super 99 diesel (on a rated belt horsepower basis) was International Harvester’s 57-hp. McCormick Super WD-9, John Deere’s 57½-hp. 80 diesel, and Minneapolis-Moline’s 56-hp. GB diesel.
The Super 99 GM stood alone as the undisputed king of farm horsepower, overshadowed only by the massive construction crawlers of that time.