Most of us have grown up hearing stories from our elders about how they had to walk to school, uphill both ways and in blizzard conditions to boot. Well, this episode of American Tractor pretty much has that same storyline, except it involves the official truck of American Tractor, the GMC Sierra, driving straight up the side of a mountain, right through the clouds and out the other side. A divine experience? Perhaps. Heavenly? Somewhat. Were there Ford tractors involved? You’re damned right there was!
The American Tractor cast headed back into the Canadian wilds, in lake country just south of Collingwood, Ontario. “Rob Roy” to be exact. No, there weren’t any drunken, kilt-wearing red heads (that we know of), but local protocol seemed to be “a chicken in every pot and a Cordoba in every driveway!”. Yes, it appeared to be the land of the lost, a turnback of the pages of time and more buzzards than you could shake an 8N axle at!
The mountain road that we were given directions to take turned out to be more of a washout. Being that the area is basically the worlds largest limestone quarry, the mud was sparse but the lime trailings and wet dust turned the GMC Sierra into something that looked like it was being fitted for “cement shoes” on the Sopranos. (to date, that crud is STILL stuck to the sill plates and inner fenders!)
As we drove through the clouds and out the other side, we reached the summit of one of the highest points in the province of Ontario and we were greeted by what looked like something driven by Art Drucker. And beside it, a buzzard. In the middle of nowhere and with no people, no traffic and barely a road. Were we lost? Not according to our “instructions”.
Its surprising that people actually live at such a high elevation. Perhaps the euphoria of thin air attracts people with a hankerin’ for old Ford tractors, or most likely, no one without a strong survival instinct would even have tried this route!
We finally reached a plateau on this mountain of rock and limestone and pretty much tripped over the tractor we were looking for which was parked about 20 feet from the road. It looked all there, although a bit haggard. The nose cone, grill and hood was missing. The original rad looked tough, just like the remainder of the tractor. Old Pete did a few fast laps around the tractor on foot, doing a mental assessment of the value of this vintage piece of iron. “You said it runs?”, he asked the seller who promptly fired it up with great enjoyment. Being that there was little left of the muffler, the tractor both sounded and ran great, just like a “Red Tiger” should! Old Pete mounted the tractor and sat in the cobbled up seat which was obviously from something that did not share Henry Ford’s DNA. Old Pete put the thing in gear, which was interesting enough in itself being that the 650 has a rare 5 speed, and he drove it forward and back a few feet staring in amazement that the thing actually moved.
Being that it started and moved and didn’t once burst into flames, Old Pete made the seller an offer and they shook hands and then actually started reminiscing about old tractors. This particular Ford hadn’t been in the sellers possession long as he took it as a trade for some work. Who actually owned it will likely remain a mystery, but one thing is for sure, who ever did own this 1956 Ford 650, took very good care of it. Although its shell is rusty (on one side only?), everything is original and nothing has been abused other than normal wear and tear and the passage of time. This tractor does not appear to have ever had a loader either so the front end hasn’t been abused beyond hope. After 50 years of farming, who wouldn’t look a little rough around the edges?
The tractor was picked up a couple of days later by Old Pete, who found a road that was a bit flatter to get to the mountain’s summit, although it was still a chore. Again, the tractor started right up, was loaded on the trailer and began the trip back to American Tractor headquarters. One last bonus before departure was that the hood magically appeared in the sellers hand and was presented with as much glee as Bob Barker had gesturing for “door number 2” to reveal a magnificent prize to a game show contestant from Pasadena.
Old Pete was then off with his treasure. As he listened to the syncopated Bluegrass music of Jimmy Martin on XM channel 14, the Ford 650 was staring at him incessantly in his rearview mirror. The empty hole where the grill should be made the tractor look like an old man with no teeth. The headlights were both a bit “off” and pointing in different directions making the tractor look like it had a lazy, wandering eye. But there was something very special about this particular tractor as it was being towed down the mountainside. It almost gives the impression that it is thankful to be going to a place where it will be looked after, and appreciated for the special piece of American history that it is. The years of care this tractor was given did not go unnoticed by the entire American Tractor crew and being in this tractors presence gives a feeling of history and pride.
One of the most amazing points about this tractor is that the original toolbox is in excellent condition, and even has an original Ford tractor wrench tucked away in it.
Even Dennis Carpenter would be green with envy in that this tractor still has the original “Tract-O-Lite” headlights and a delicate and dainty little Duolamp tail lamp.
Underneath the “bonus” hood still sits the original decals
Has original cartridge oil filter
The fact that the left side of the tractor still has the original paint in “recognizable” condition, yet the right side is completely rusty, can really only be explained that this tractor likely has sat for several years in a shed with exposure to one side, or perhaps was tarped and condensation eroded away the paint on the right side.