To delve into the history of Deutz-Fahr, is to delve into the history of the internal combustion engine itself.

The company can trace it’s roots back to the first engine factory in the world, which was established by Nicolaus Otto and Eugene Langen in Cologne in 1864.

This was a hectic time in the emerging industrial era, as Germany was growing to compete with Great Britain in technology and manufacture, although the country focused more on chemicals and electrification, rather than on steam and iron.

The other piece of technology coming to the fore, was lightweight engines, rather than the inefficient steam power, or the heavy and almost indestructible hot bulb engines.

Light engines for mobility

The British focus on supplying engines that could run on whatever material the empire’s estates had to hand, meant that it lost out to the lightweight engines that did not need stokers and engineers in constant attendance.

There was a huge demand for these machines. This was partly the reason that the factory moved to a larger site in Deutz, a small town on the opposite side of the river to Cologne, and a new company called Gasmotoren-Fabrik Deutz AG, formed to run it.

Otto on German stamp
Nicolaus Otto as portrayed on a German postage stamp

The other reason for this move, was a fall out within the original company between its various management figures, including Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, both of whom went on to create their own legacies.

The first diesel engine was produced in 1897, and the company then grew by acquisition and merger.

Humboldt, Magirus and Klockner-Werke were all assimilated into the business during the interwar period, with emphasis being placed on commercial vehicle production.

It was through this growth, that the name Klockner-Humboldt-Deutz (KHD) came about, and the logo representing the spire of Ulm cathedral, the home of Magirus.

Starting point

Other than selling its engines to tractor manufacturers, the agricultural market did not feature in the company’s portfolio until 1927, which was when the first German tractor was manufactured by Deutz.

This was not the first one produced by the company, as it’s American subsidiary in Philadelphia had put together a petrol powered tractor of 26hp back in 1894.

Deutz MTH 222
The Deutz MTH 222 was the first mass produced Deutz tractor and was built from 1927-1930

The German machine was the MTH 222, which boasted a diesel engine of 14hp. Around 540 were made, marking the start of mass production of standard tractors by the company.

It was during the late thirties and early forties that the factory went into full swing, with at least 28,000 units being produced up until 1942.

However, these were destined for the military rather than the field and were used in logistics, on airfields and as gun tugs.

For the rest of the war years, it appears that the company was required to produce artillery and munitions, although it is thought that 3,750 examples of F 3 M 417 were made between 1942 and 1952.

Air cooling arrives

Moving to 1949 and the arrival of what would become the trademark of Deutz tractors, and other makes such as Guldner – the air cooled diesel.

Deutz F1L  tractor
The F1L series ushered in the age of Deutz air cooled tractors

It was the Deutz F1L 514 which marked first of the air cooled diesel tractor line, producing 15hp from its single cylinder engine. Other versions of different power ratings were also produced, as were two, three and four cylinder models.

The F series carried on into the sixties accompanied by the D series, which gave way to the well known and much loved DX series in 1978.

It was these models which proved such a great success for the company and remain highly collectible today.

The origins of Fahr

Along the way, the company started to work with Fahr AG, a farm machinery company established in 1870 by Johann Fahr, which had manufactured the first German self propelled combine in 1951.

Fahr had been a customer for both Deutz and Guldner engines before the war, using them both in its own tractors.

During the war, it had adapted two of its models, the HG25 and F22 to run on producer gas, rather than diesel.

Fahr Combine
An early Fahr combine leading a contemporary model in Co. Cork

After the hostilities, the company cooperated with Guldner in producing a range of models known as the European series that was sold by both companies in their respective liveries.

In 1961, KHD acquired 25% of Fahr and discontinued production of Fahr tractors the following year.

A further tranche of shares were purchased in 1968 and in 1975, Fahr was bought out completely – leading to the formation of Deutz-Fahr as we know it today.

Fahr was left to continue the production of combines, while Deutz continued to cooperate with Kodel and Bohm – which had started production of threshing machines in 1890, and adopted the Kola brand name for its mobile units.

Fahr eventually purchased the company outright. This led to two distinct ranges being produced by Deutz-Fahr, a situation that was finally resolved in 1980, when all of the combines from both factories were sold under the Deutz-Fahr name.

Storm clouds over Deutz

1995 proved to be a tumultuous year for Deutz-Fahr, starting off innocently enough, with the sale of the agricultural interests of the KHD group to the Italian company, SAME, to create Same Deutz-Fahr (SDF).

This was followed with the production of its first water cooled diesels for agricultural applications, which eventually replaced all air cooled motors driving the tractor range.

Deutz D series
The air called D series served Deutz well and were displaced by the DX tractors in 1978

There also emerged a series of financial irregularities which almost bankrupted the company and closed it down.

In response to this crisis, and with backing from the banks, local authorities and other bodies, the company is restructured and the name is changed to “Deutz AG” with effect from January 1997.

Thus, we have the modern company that we know today which operates as a stand alone brand within the SAME group.

Deutz remain a major brand

While it may not be that popular a make here in Ireland, it lies in third place behind John Deere and Fendt in Germany, selling around half the number of units of either the two market leaders.

Deutz Fahr Tractors
The modern range of Deutz-Fahr tractors is as capable as any others out there

SDF have an unfortunate association with cheap Italian tractors which is hardly deserved in todays market.

Deutz Fahr are keeping up with the market leaders in terms of digital technology and their engineering is still solidly German.

Deutz-Fahr machines are also sold under the Lamborghini brand which is another company that SAME acquired, along with Hurlimann, over its history of producing tractors.