Today, we head back to the 70s to take a look at the pride of Racine…the Case 1370 Agri King. Built from 1971-1978, the company rolled 17,413 of these big brutes out the door. And for a few of those years, the 1370 was the best bang for the buck as far as PTO horsepower was concerned!
Welcome to the Jet Age
In the early 70s, J.I. Case was more or less focused on construction equipment. But when they became a branch of Tenneco in 1970 (and a pretty large capital investment, no doubt), that changed. With the announcement of the 70-series tractors, farming came back into focus in a big way.
The 70-series line was a pretty major shift for Case. Until now, the company had always been known for building tough, but practical, farm equipment. Good bones, but no extras. To put it another way…if the old Case was still building tractors today, there wouldn’t be a “luxury cab” option with heated and cooled leather seats and a fridge for your lunch. That wasn’t the way they did things.
However, the 70-series tractors were high-tech and high-style machines with plenty of performance to match – especially the 1370. In 1972, it was the top dog for Case as far as 2WD row-crops went.
The Case 1370 had good bones. A beefy frame, a big honkin’ motor with a turbo, and a 12-speed partial power shift transmission. As far as I’m concerned, it’s hard to go wrong with those. The 504 cubic inch motor was powerful, turning over 142 horse on the PTO dyno in 1972 when it was first tested. In and of itself, that was a great number. But midway through 1973, Case twisted the motor’s tail a little tighter…and on the re-test, they turned 155 horse! (That’s factory tuning, mind you – not a farmer turning up the pump screw a little bit…)
On the technology front, the Jet Age tractors came with more innovations than ever. One of the most impressive ones was the transmission. Case’s engineers re-cast the housing so that everything – forks, valves, the works – was accessible from the bottom or sides, as opposed to the top. That saved a ton of time and effort when it came to service and repair, because you didn’t have to tear the cab off to get it out of the way. Even if you had to split the tractor, the cab and platform could stay bolted in place.
Making the transmission’s innerds accessible from underneath the tractor was a pretty major innovation!
When it came to cabs, Case was forward-thinking there, too. They didn’t go quite as far as Deere did with the Sound Gard bodies, but they did isolate the cab from the top of the transmission with rubber bushings and an air gap. The air gap was pretty helpful in helping the transmission run a little cooler. It also made the cab quieter, and cooler too!
Among the boxes on the Case 1370’s order form, there were a couple that I took a liking to. I’m a big guy, and one of my biggest peeves is banging my knees on the dash or the steering wheel when I get into a vehicle (of any kind). Case included options for a 90˚ tilt and telescoping wheel! That’s awfully handy! The other one I really liked was the optional bucket seat (which I’ve never actually seen). I’m not sure if Case was catering to a market of farmers who drove Porsches on weekends or if it was a nod to their involvement in racing way back in the early part of the century, but I thought it was neat.
The 1370 at auction
This particular Case 1370 currently lives about a half hour east of Sioux City until January 28, 2021. It’s been repainted at some point (either partially or maybe the whole thing), but it’s survived the years reasonably well. As is typical of these older tractors, the hour meter gave up long ago, so the 7532 hours it shows aren’t accurate. I’ve been playing phone tag with the folks at CHJ Auctioneers, but I’ll update info as I get it.
Like a lot of 50-year old tractors these days, you can pretty much name your price on the Case 1370. Our Iron Comps database has recorded auction prices within the past year or two from everywhere between $1,000 and upwards of $10,000. But, based on what I’ve seen on the auction listing, I was able to narrow down the list of comparable sales using hours and location of sale and then eyeball it based on the auctioneer’s photos. Iron Comps created a custom average value of the tractors I’d selected, which makes it pretty easy to figure out what a tractor like this will sell for! When it’s all said and done, based on our Iron Comps data, I think it’ll probably sell for somewhere around $4500-5000.
BTW, our Iron Comps data goes a lot deeper than hours, location, and a few photos. We’re tracking a ton of filterable data that you can use to quickly get to a reliable value. It’s been a big help to dealers and farmers all over the country! Give it a look sometime and sign up for a free trial! I’ll bet you learn a lot about what iron (both old and new) is REALLY worth!
These old Case 1370s are great tractors, provided that they haven’t been beaten like a red-headed step-child! They’re pretty nimble, so they can get in and out of tight spaces. That makes them pretty handy for loader duty, mowing, etc. The 504 is a brute of a motor, too, so it’ll have a ton of low-end grunt.
As these tractors get older, the transmissions will typically be the first thing to go. But at the end of the day, fifty year old stuff DOES tend to wear out. Fortunately, parts are fairly easy to find, and they’re not terribly difficult to work on. If you do end up needing to find the right parts for the job, I know the guys at Elmer’s Repair are pretty well-stocked! They’re good folks who are absolutely passionate about Case tractors, too!
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