J.I. Case Co. Keeps Fast Company

Unknown to many people, the J.I. Case Co. competed in automobile racing in the early decades of the 20th century.

| February 2018

The J.I. Case Co. is well known among Farm Collector readers for its high quality steam traction engines and threshers, sturdy cross-motor gas tractors and its reliable line of flambeau red tractors and machinery.

Most folks also are aware that Case built automobiles in the early 20th century, but surely the staid old J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. never took a flyer at racing cars, the sport of the rich? Actually, most early auto manufacturers did field racing teams, as it was considered to be great advertising for their machines – provided that their cars won races, of course.

Case had a very early experience with a self-propelled road vehicle, predating its first steam traction engine by several years. In either 1871 or 1873, a steam-powered buggy was built in Racine, Wisconsin.

One account has it that a Methodist minister, the Rev. John W. Carhart, and his brother, physics professor H.S. Carhart, built the vehicle with the help of J.I. Case Co. The Racine newspaper reported that the machine was built during the winter of 1872-73 by Carhart and financed by wealthy Racine lumberman George W. Slauson.

The auto buggy, possibly the first such vehicle built in the U.S., and certainly the first in Wisconsin, was said to be powered by two identical 1 hp Case-built steam engines, one for each drive wheel, while the vertical boiler was built by Button Steam Fire Engine Co., Watertown, New York.

The machine, named the “Spark,” weighed 600 pounds and ran at 5 mph, or at least did until it was banned by Racine city officials after spooking one too many horses. At the 1908 International Automobile Exposition in Paris, Carhart was named the “Father of Automobiles” and given a cash award as well as a certificate of honor.


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.

Facebook Pinterest YouTube


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265