Montana Monsters: The Case 4894

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Beneath this pretty red paint are a pair of Case 4894s with great big Swedish hearts…the last hurrah for JIC’s 4WD lineup. They sell next Tuesday, April 27!

See the details on these tractors.

That’s right, kids…not one Case 4894, but a pair of ’em this week!

In the late 70s and into the 80s, big 4WD power was where it was at. The idea itself wasn’t new; the Steiger brothers had been building 4WDs for nearly 20 years at this point. But, with farm expansion in the 70s, farmers needed more power to pull bigger implements, and the industry was really starting to take off.

The typical 4WD of the 70s followed a pretty basic formula. Build a big tractor that bent in the middle (or have Steiger build you one…), let the marketing & advertising people do their thing, and voila! Well, the people at J.I. Case thought that was pretty much the most ridiculous thing ever. How do you keep a tractor that BENDS IN THE MIDDLE going straight?

Seems like a pretty legit question, right?

J.I. Case’s approach

Ever since the factory in Racine turned out their first 4WD (the 1200) back in the early sixties, they felt a straight frame with axles that could pivot did a better job. That was their story, and they were stickin’ to it. Honestly, they’d had pretty good success with their 4-wheel-steer setups, too. They were complex systems, and they took a little more TLC than a center pin. Man alive, though, they sure could turn a tight circle! Less than 19′ even with duals! Good luck doing that with a Steiger! Additionally, the crab steer was a big help on hillsides. It all but eliminated side draft!

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JIC’s first entry into the 4WD market was the 1200. Neat tractors, and they’re become pretty darn rare these days!
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An early 70-series Case…again, with a face that only a mother could love. Plenty capable, though!
Case 2670
The later 70-series tractors showed a more refined design and addition capabilities for Case’s 4WD tractors.

So in August of 1979 when Case launched the 90-series tractors, they touted them as “the most advanced 4WD tractors had ever built”. They were impressive tractors, too. The new “Silent Guardian” cab was a game changer for sure; it was roomy and quiet – even quieter than a SoundGard!

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The predecessor to the 4894 was this one, the 4890. (It’s missing side shields.)

In 1984, they updated the 90-series tractors to the 94-series. Fundamentally, they were the same tractor (save for one all-new tractor at the top of the stack – the 4994), but where the 90 was pretty analog, the new model incorporated more electronics and a digital dashboard. They still retained the same transmission and powerplant…which for the Case 4894, came from Sweden.

Wait…what? Sweden? Why?

Yep. Sweden. Home of meatballs, IKEA, the northern lights, and an unintelligible Muppet.

Scania was (and as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen today, it still is) a major player in the diesel industry, and they’re a driving force in the global trucking market. They build semis and city buses, as well as lots of motors for various applications. They’re a big deal!

JIC partnered with Scania for motors for the top tractors in the 70, 90, and 94 series. The 2870, 4890, and 4894 used Scania’s DS11 motor, a 674-inch inline six that made about 300 horse. The 4994, Case’s biggest-ever tractor, used the DS14, an 866-inch V8 that made 400 horse! They were stout powerplants that performed very well in the field.

Partnering with a Swedish company, no matter how beefy the motors, though…it seems…well, a little strange, honestly. I’ve wondered why Case chose Scania for a long time. Never found a really reliable answer to the question, either. I’ve heard theories as to why Scania got the contract, though.

Theories

Steiger & Versatile were pretty heavily involved with Cummins at the time. There could’ve been a clause in their contracts that Cummins wouldn’t sell to anybody else. It wouldn’t be the first time a company had negotiated a contract like that.

Interestingly enough, the last five or ten 4994s built left Racine with an 855 between the frame rails. I believe one of them actually sold at a Canadian farm sale in October of 2019. I also know of one 4894 living in Minnesota that has what appears to be a completely factory-installed L10 Cummins in it. I’m not sure what the serial number is, though, so I don’t know if it’s early or late. I’m guessing it might be a late one.

I do know that Scania made a push into the US market with a small contract with Mack over the road trucks earlier in the 70s. That might’ve caught JIC’s eye, especially if the big motors were a cost-effective option. Case could’ve been taking a gamble on Scania’s success in the States.

It could’ve also been a case where the top brass at JIC & Tenneco were just huge ABBA fans, too… ?

In the field…

In the field, the 4894s were monsters. They were very popular in the west as well as in the Canadian wheat and canola fields. Hilly country was where these tractors made their mark. They might look a little funny when they crab-steer, but man alive, it sure is effective!

They were powerful and capable, but as with most complex systems, they did need maintenance. The crab-steer system had a lot of moving parts, and if the owner didn’t look ’em over and address issues, consequences could be costly. An ounce of prevention definitely saved a pound of cure, in the case of the big crab-steer tractors!

Even though they sold relatively well, the factory only churned out 872 of these big tractors. Part of that was due to the merger between Case and IH, just a year after the 4894 rolled onto the market. Once the merger happened, the 94 series was scrapped because IH was already in a pretty strong partnership with Steiger. The remaining tractors were all painted red and rebadged as Case Internationals. Once they were gone, they were gone.

The ones on next week’s sale…

With tractors like the 4894, proper usage and preventative upkeep is definitely the key. If you’re looking at one on an auction or a classified ad, etc., check for service records. The key is to get the story.

…and that’s exactly what I did.

I called Clint Mullins, the man who owns these tractors. He lives just southwest of Williston, ND, just across the Montana state line. Until fairly recently, Clint and his son Zach farmed a fair amount of grain out there (wheat, I think?). They’ve decided to downsize their operation by a fair bit, and the team over at Musser Bros. is handling the sale.

At any rate, Clint told me that he bought the pair of 4894s in the late 90s to restore and use. He’s been completely through the tractors from stem to stern. Rebuilt both of the big Scania motors, been through the transmissions, differential, planetaries…the whole works. While he had them apart, he also repainted them IH red and re-decal’d them.

Once they’d been redone, they went to work on the farm. One of ’em pulled a 45′ air drill in the spring and served on grain cart duty during harvest. The other spent its life pulling a sprayer.

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This is the grain cart tractor. It’s tuned up a little bit from the way it left the factory, making about 360 horse. Click the photo to see the details and a bunch more photos!

The hours are accurate. The grain cart tractor has 3300 original hours, and it’s got a bit more grunt. Clint turned the motor up to about 360 horse. It’s got dual 20.8x38s on it and a full rack of front weights go with it. The sprayer tractor has 7600 hours on it, and he left it set at 300 horse. It also sports dual 18.4x38s, a nearly full front weight rack, as well as being outfitted with Trimble EZ-Steer!

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The sprayer tractor is set at 300 horse, and has a little less rubber under it, but no less capable! Click the photo to see the details and a bunch more photos!

What’ll they bring?

Honestly, I expect they’ll bring quite a bit. I checked our Iron Comps database for prices on the Case 4894, and of the few listed (they don’t change hands very often), they’ve been hovering in the $8-10K range. That said…these are a LOT nicer tractors, and they’re selling in area where these were well-regarded. If they don’t bring between $20-25K each, I’d be very surprised.

Will they set all-time records? No. The all time record is somewhere in the $45K range at least 10 or 12 years ago. But, for the “modern” era that we’re living in now, these will set a very high mark!

Well-maintained equipment sells, folks!

See the details on these tractors.

 

 

The Case 1370: Welcome to the Jet Age, folks…

Case 1370 Agri King
In the mid-70s, the 1370 was the top dog in the Case 2WD lineup. This one lives in Nebraska until January 28, 2021 when the hammer falls and it goes home to a new owner. Click the photo to get the details!

SEE THE AUCTION LISTING FOR THIS TRACTOR

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.

High-Performance 

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…)

1370 Big Cubes
Case made no bones about having one of the biggest motors on the block. The only 2WD row crop tractor with a bigger mill under the hood was Deere’s 6030 with a 531!

High Tech

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.

1370 Closed Top TransmissionMaking 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!

1370 Cab Advertising
Case was one of the first manufacturers to take cabs and operator comfort seriously. Deere took it one step further with the Sound Gard body design, but at the time, the 70-series cabs were a big leap forward.

High Style

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.

1370 Cab
The fisheye lens used for this photo makes the cab look about as big as your living room (it really wasn’t). One thing this photo shows really well is the tilt/telescoping wheel in the upright position. Really handy for tall guys with long legs!

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.

Values

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.

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Here are a few of the comparable sales that I used to create the custom average for CHJ’s Case 1370. Those green checkmarks are all figured into the custom average. I can click into each of those boxes to learn more about the tractor and the auction. Click the photo to go the Iron Comps website and start your free trial today!

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!

Sign up for a free trial of Iron Comps here.

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.

Wrapping up…

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!

Big Temptation
This is the meanest Case 1370 on Planet Earth. I picked off this shot at the Lucas Oil PPL event in Hillsboro, WI back in 2019. (Aside from the paint, there’s almost nothing on this tractor that would’ve been factory stock on a 1370! That’s 504 cubic inches of alcohol-burning turbocharged goodness right there…probably close to 4000 horsepower!)

SEE THE AUCTION LISTING FOR THIS TRACTOR