Get to Know: Greg BontragerLayne Cameron
Get to Know:
Start Date: 1997
Greg Bontrager grew up driving tractors on a farm outside of Kokomo.
Specifically, he’s driven Oliver Tractors all his life.
Down the road from his farm is a dealership that carried Oliver tractors until 1976, when the longtime manufacturer went out of business. The Oliver Farm Equipment Company had strong Hoosier roots, as it was launched in 1929 through a merger of two Indiana companies and two others from the Midwest.
His dad paid many visits to the dealership, and Greg has followed suit.
“I grew up driving Olivers, so they’re familiar,” Greg says. “I’ve always been interested in older stuff. I hate working on cars, but tractors are so easy to repair.”
Like most tractors, Olivers are distinct. They have forest green bodies, red or white rims, and yellow or white grills. Being Indiana-built enhanced their collectability, at least they did for Greg.
He began collecting them in 2016. He scours Craigslist, auctions, and regularly watches Classic Tractor Fever on RFD (Rural Free Delivery) TV. Some he fixes and sells; others he keeps and uses to work his family farm. His favorite is a 770, which has narrow front tires and power steering.
Occasionally he’ll fix up other brands of tractors, but the Olivers are the stars of his collection. They’ll also be one of the focal points of his retirement. “Once I retire, I’ll have plenty of them stacked up and ready to be worked on.”
Not that he’s fixing to retire; he’s just planning to do some fixing when he retires.