2020 - Volume #44, Issue #4, Page #19[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Rare Oliver Outboard Motors
Gorz learned of the Oliver brand when he worked at a Saugatuck, Mich. marina and the business took on the Oliver outboard franchise. “Oliver had just started building outboards in 1954 after they acquired the motor business from Chris-Craft, a well-known boat brand at the time,” Gorz says. “They sold a 5 1/2 hp. model called the Challenger and a 15 hp. model called the Commander. The following year those names were dropped, the colors were changed, and new models were introduced.”
Gorz became a knowledgeable Oliver repairman because he graduated from a 2-day class the company held at its Battle Creek, Mich. plant. “I’m the only graduate of this class still around because I was the only one attending, but I learned a lot and it stayed with me,” Gorz says. He worked at the marina a couple years while attending college, then more or less forgot about the Oliver brand for 20 plus years.
“I started collecting Olivers in the 80’s, along with Perkins models and some other brands,” Gorz says. “Over the years I collected thousands of parts from various sources and began selling them to Oliver and Perkins collectors. It was a fun business because I met a lot of interesting people.”
Gorz says Oliver outboards were dependable motors, but competing with the higher horsepower models from Mercury, Johnson, and Evinrude models was extremely tough. He says Oliver tried to compete by introducing higher horsepower models of its own and eventually made a deal with Perkins LTD of England to build its motors. That lasted a few years, but the Oliver brand was discontinued in 1960. Perkins built and sold its own motors but by the mid 60’s those brands also disappeared.
Gorz says Oliver was really good at promoting its motors and even had them displayed and sold by farm equipment dealers near the Great Lakes. “They had clever accessories like the Mix-Matic and Tenda-Matic gas tanks along with F-N-R throttle control boxes. A toy Oliver boat motor was sold for one year in 1958. Collectors value those from $1,000 to more than $1,500, which is more than twice as much as the original motors.”
He sold most of his remaining parts to Dan Soderstrom, also of Michigan, who continues selling Oliver parts plus a number of used motors he had accumulated.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Richard Gorz, Oliver Outboard Motors (email@example.com).
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