February 2007 will mark the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the world's first factory-integrated tractor loader/backhoe. One of many Case firsts, the Case 320 was the first loader/backhoe purpose-built at the plant for construction applications.
"When Case introduced the first loader/backhoe in 1957, it revolutionized the construction industry," said Jim Hasler, vice president, Case Construction Equipment. "Before that, contractors had made due using farm tractors with loader attachments and sometimes jury-rigged backhoe attachments. With the Case 320, they received the unprecedented versatility of having one machine that could trench, crane and fill."
Jim Hughes, marketing manager, Case Construction Equipment, noted that Case has been an industry leader ever since that early introduction, with numerous important innovations such as return-to-dig and return-to-travel functions, over-center backhoe for improved balance, the Case Extendahoe extendible dipperstick, power loader linkage, ride control and the patented Pro Control System for superior backhoe control and faster cycles, among other industry firsts.
Perhaps the most visible change between the Case 320 and today's Case M Series 2 Loader/Backhoes is in the cab and operator's environment. From the earliest models, which featured a stark steel-framed chair with a back and padded seat-already an improvement over most of its agricultural cousins of the time-the Case Loader/Backhoe has evolved to feature the world's most comfortable cab. "The optional deluxe cab package available on the Case M Series 2 machines provides the quietest cab in the industry," said Hughes.
"The difference in control is remarkable," Hughes continued. "Today's Case Loader/Backhoes with pilot controls are simple and intuitive to learn and operate, and require very low effort. Case pilot controls are infinitely adjustable fore and aft, as well as side to side, to improve operator comfort and productivity."
According to Hasler, one thing that has not changed since Case built its first loader/backhoe is the fact that Case is committed to providing more than just exceptional equipment. "Our Case financial services group celebrates 50 years in business in 2007, too," he said. "That's 50 years of seeing to the unique needs of contractors and other construction equipment users-not only in terms of providing the equipment they need to get the job done, but also of structuring payment schedules and financing terms that can help them grow their business. Tens of thousands of owner-operators got their start in the business with a Case loader/backhoe and financing that met their needs."
More than two years ago, Case passed the half-million mark in the production of loader/backhoes. "No other manufacturer comes close," Hughes said, "and we're well on our way to three-quarters of a million."
Models built in 2007 will feature a 50th Anniversary decal on the loader arms and backhoe. Customers also can purchase a special 50th Anniversary Edition, which features bundled options and a special limited-edition decal that is different from the standard decal. In addition, Case will have on display at 2007 shows a custom black Anniversary model that will feature a frosted-window treatment of the original Case 320 in one window and in the other a futuristic model.
A book describing the history of the loader/backhoe will be available for purchase at shows, including World of Concrete, along with limited-edition prints featuring the past, present and future models.
The Case M Series 2 line includes the 580M, 580M turbo, 580 Super M, 580 Super M+ and the 590 Super M and features the exclusive Pro Control System, optional pilot controls and hydraulic loader and backhoe quick couplers for fast attachment changes from the cab, among other features. The machines, which range from 76 to 98 hp, continue to meet the need for powerful, reliable and highly versatile construction equipment.