Tom Collins meets a man who was determined to realise his ambition.
We often have indelible, vivid memories of people or vehicles from impressionable days of our childhood or teenage years. For Dale Schoenick of rural Calumet County, Wisconsin, that unforgettable impression was of a MinneapolisMoline G1000 Vista tractor.
Schoenick grew up on a farm near a community called Pickett, in rich farmland west of Oshkosh and near Wisconsin’s large inland Lake Winnebago. The family owned Minneapolis-Moline tractors over the years. “I grew up with them on the farm; my dad had a ‘U’,” Schoenick said referring to one iconic model in the company’s many decades of tractor making. “I was a teenager in the ’60s. I told him we need to buy one of those Vistas.”
But the Schoenick family farm was small and his dad didn’t think they needed a larger, more powerful tractor. Dale never forgot the G1000 Vistas and promised himself he’d buy one someday.
“40 years later I finally got my own!” Schoenick said. The version he eventually found as an adult was not the usual diesel or gasoline-fueled types offered in North America. It is the propane version, often called LPG for ‘liquid propane gas’.
The 1967 G1000 Vista is the newest of three Minneapolis-Moline tractors he owns. The oldest, a 1941 UTS, was obtained from northern Minnesota near the Canadian border. The 1964 U302 Super came closer to his current home. It was located on a farm near Berlin, Wisconsin, in Green Lake County.
The oldest is painted in the deep yellow-orange popularly known as Prairie Gold. It is the namesake of the company’s faithful tractor collector’s organisation today.
Schoenick’s G1000 Vista is unrestored and shows some of the scars of its former life in southern Michigan. His G1000 Vista is painted in the lighter shade of yellow that came during the ownership of MinneapolisMoline by the White Motor Corporation beginning in 1963.
Just 7,937 of the G1000 Vista versions were built by the company from 1965-69. The Vista name referred to the tractor’s higher operator platform, which offered users a better surrounding view for farm and ranch work.
The G1000 Vista was a sturdy tractor meant to compete with popular large tractors from more prolific makers like John Deere and International Harvester.
And the advertisers from Minneapolis-Moline emphasised the big size for everything promoting the tractor.
The G1000 Vista was designed for those who “Farm BIG”, with emphasis on the latter word in capital letters. The tractor “… gives you the power you need for bigger operations…” promised one promotional ad.
The G1000 Vista was built on a 103-inch wheelbase, despite being offered in both two- and four-wheel drive configurations, as well as rugged Wheatland and even taller high-crop versions. Some surviving versions today are found with the front axle set back under the engine. That gives the tractor an even more rugged look. The Schoenick version has a row-crop front.
Features that came under the ‘Farm BIG’ designation included the 10-speed Ampli-Torc powershift semi-automatic transmission and hydrostatic power steering. Also included was the standard dual-range PTO with both 540rpm and 1,000rpm capabilities.
The Ampli-Torc transmission was referred to with the prefixes “Power Pace” in period Minneapolis-Moline brochures. An unusual graph using some of the 10 gear choices was offered on a bar graph that caught the eyes of potential purchasers. The gears selected offered a steady increase in miles per hour from first low to 10th speed high. The ‘big’ theme was even carried over to the transmission’s capabilities.
“If you want to go with big loads, the Vista has the power. For example,” offered the brochure, “you cruise with six, seven or eight-bottom mold board plows or 22 feet of chisel or 32 feet of field cultivator. You can till or plant six rows in one pass…”
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