Case is one of the best-known tractor makers yet is among the least-known automobile builders. It doesn’t help that there are few survivors to spread the story of Case automobiles, but we found an interesting straggler in an upcoming online auction.
J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. built cars in Racine, Wisconsin, from 1911 to 1927. And why not? Case already had a great reputation for building quality tractors and other farm implements, so why not use the same resources and reputation to make personal transportation for farmers and others alike? Before building cars, the company already had years of motorized transportation experience under its belt. Its first steam buggy was built in 1871 and by 1886, it was the world’s largest manufacturer of steam engines. However, its automobiles received conventional gas engines.
Case took over the Pierce Motor Co., producers in the Pierce-Racine automobile, in 1910 and started building cars the following year. Perhaps to gain a stronger and more independent foothold in the automobile world, it later established the Case Motor Car Division as the company branch dedicated to automobiles.
The Case offered in an online auction by Nixon Auctioneers appears to be a circa-1920 Model V coupe, surely a rare car when new and even more so today. The Model V of 1920 had a 126-inch wheelbase and 50-hp from its six-cylinder engine by Continental, Case’s preferred source for automobile engines at this time. When new, the 1920 four-passenger Case coupe had a factory price of $3100 — a full $300 more than the most expensive Buick that year, and $300 less than the least expensive new Cadillac.
This Case appears to be a solid and intact survivor with weathered paint, an intact but aged interior and an engine compartment that could use some detailing and possibly more. Signs that this car’s history of owners includes Case’s captive audience can be found in the trunk where there’s an old Farmer’s Union Coop cap in the trunk. Other than this trinket — and the fact that the car is being auctioned in Mulvane, Kansas, among many tractors and tractor-related items — there is little information provided on the car and much to discover.
Online bidding begins on November 16; learn more at www.nixonauctioneers.com.