John Deere Custom Color Lawn and Garden Tractors

During the 1969 model year, John Deere introduced the Custom Color series of lawn and garden tractors and attachments. Collectors often referred to this equipment as "Patio Models". In 1969, the models offered in Custom Colors were the 110, 112, and 140. The Model 120 was added to this list the following year in 1970. The marketing group at John Deere Horicon Works felt that not all of their customers wanted a green garden tractor, and so by offering a variety of colors, sales of lawn tractors would increase. These Custom Color lawn and garden tractors were painted entirely in Dogwood White except for the hood and seat. The hood and seat were offered in one of four colors: Patio Red, Sunset Orange, April Yellow, and Spruce Blue. These colors matched those of John Deereís popular competitors. Tractors were shipped minus the hood and seat; the dealer would then install the colored hood and seat of choice.

All the attachments were painted Dogwood White to match the garden tractors. Some of these attachments included the #80 Cart, #37A and #49 Snow throwers, #31 and #33 Tillers, #43 and #54 Front Blades, #5A Sprayers, and of course all models of the mower decks including the #39, #47, #41, and #48.

Originally when they were released in 1969 the entire tractor was painted in Dogwood White except for the hood and seat, of course. This included such things as the engine, fuel tank, mower deck attachment linkage, and the mule drive on certain models. John Deere found that the white paint on the engine had a tendency to stain. Also this meant that more parts had to be painted separately. So, for 1970, black paint was used on the engine, fuel tank, mower attachment linkages and some other items. This way these parts could be used on both the custom color and the green lawn and garden tractors without separate painting being done. Even though the engine on the Custom Color 140 was changed to black in 1970, the air cleaner cover remained in white. The seat base is unique to Custom Colored tractors in that it is textured and not smooth like the green tractors.

Also when these models were released in 1969 the type number for the green and Custom Color versions was the same on the serial number plate. Later this was changed so that a unique type number was used for the Custom Color tractors.

It didnít take long for John Deereís Marketing Group to find out that customers buying John Deere garden tractors wanted a green tractor and not one of a different color. Sales of the Custom Color tractors were disappointing and in the 1971 model year, production of the custom color tractors ceased. Dealers repainted many of the tractors and hoods green to get them sold. Many of the seats were used to make parts counter stools, were given away, or they ended up laying around on dealer parts shelves for years waiting to be picked up by collectors. The yellow seats, of course, were used on the green tractors and the first to be used. Because of this, yellow is probably the hardest color of seat to find.

The Ertl Toy Co. of Dyersville, Iowa made a matching set of 1/16th scale Custom Colored garden tractors to match the real ones. These 1:16 scale toys were offered in the four colors and a matching Dogwood White lawn trailer was also available. These toys were offered in a "Dealer Display" box and are highly sought after by toy and garden tractor collectors alike.

Today the Custom Color or patio garden tractors that John Deere made have become highly collectible. Due to the fact that they sold poorly when new, they are somewhat more difficult to find than their green counterparts. Many have been found wearing the familiar green and yellow paint, so be sure to examine the type codes. Many collectors consider the Custom Color 120 the most difficult to find, and there is much debate surrounding which of the colors is the most rare. Many of the attachments other than the mower decks are among the hardest to find of John Deere factory attachments.

Below is the list of the Dupont Centari paint codes and a listing of custom color type numbers.

Starmist White 59373
Lemans Blue Metallic 5030
Sunset Orange 60659
Fleet Red 2622
Fleet Yellow 23820

 Custom Tractor Type codes for 1970 and 1971 models only, as the 1969 models are the same as the green ones.

110 T0642M, T0648M
112 T0654M, T0655M, T0656M, T0658M
120 T0572M
140 T0582M, T0584M

Summary by Dave Borkowski, 08/07/2002