So you’ve got this wicked diesel truck that you love to drive. You know that diesel engines are the cream of the crop when it comes to sheer strength. Likely, you’ve noticed that a massive amount of commercial vehicles also utilize a diesel powerplant, how could you not? But what’s the story behind those motors and how do they relate to your oil burner? Thankfully, you have Diesel Army to clear that up for you.
When Rudolph Diesel made his breakthrough invention in the late 1800s, the world was forever changed. His engine, over the last 100-plus years has literally changed the way the world works. But he didn’t do it without help from other innovators and visionaries. In 1864, prior to Diesel’s discovery, a two gentlemen named Nicolaus August Otto and Eugen Langen founded N.A. Otto & Cie in Cologne, Germany. It was the first engine factory in the world.
Just a few years later, the pair went on to win a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle of Paris for the most economically-powered machine for light industry. Some years later, the factory expanded and a joint-stock company, Gasmotoren-Fabrik Deutz AG (GFD), was founded, giving birth to Deutz. The company has had modifications to its name over the years but it has always remained the same, ever-expanding company.
It was in 1876 that Otto made a significant mark on the world, having invented the four-stroke internal combustion engine that was sold worldwide. The company began producing self-propelled machinery and tractors, and in 1907, GFD began mass producing diesel engines. From this point on, Deutz lead the charge in industrial diesel engines.
At this same time, Deutz employed Ettore Bugatti, the soon-to-be famous car manufacturer. Bugatti built the Type 8 and 9 while employed as the production director for Deutz, and later built the diminutive Type 10 in the basement of his garage. Why they went their own ways is unknown, though it may be safe to presume Bugatti wanted to pursue his automotive manufacturing.
In 1921, GFD created an alliance with Motorenfabrik Oberursel AG, and the company name was changed to Deutz AG. Around the late 1920s, Deutz built its first tractor, utilizing a 14 horsepower Deutz MTH 222 diesel engine.
Over the next few years, Deutz merged again, this time with Maschinenbauanstalt Humboldt AG, a German mechanical engineering firm, and with Motorenfabrik Oberursel AF. The new ties brought Deutz into the locomotive and aircraft markets, and deeper into the automotive market.
After designing and building a couple more tractors, Deutz built what would become known as “the people’s tractor.” The F1M414 played a significant role in mechanizing small farms around the world. Powered by a single cylinder, the water-cooled engine pushed 11 horsepower — meager numbers by today’s standards, but a huge leap from manual labor. The F1M414 was built through 1951 as is and then again through to 1959 with an air cooled motor.
The company acquired a few more companies and became known as Klöckner Humboldt Deutz AG (KHD). During World War II, KHD was ordered to manufacture artillery. After the war, the manufacturing plants suffered from a lot of damage. It took five years after the end of the war to get the company back to where it was prior. Air cooled engines began to take over,and several new designs integrated new generations of diesel engines as well as front suspension, with huge success. Locomotives also continued to expand the company line-up.
The first four-wheel drive tractor by Deutz came about in 1965. Combined with the next model in 1968, nearly 400,00 units were sold, with 1968 as a banner year for the corporation and its alliancse. Deutz-Fahr was created with the acquisition of majority shareholder FAHR, a member of KHD that had previously built agricultural equipment.
Another company was acquired, a Bavarian agricultural equipment manufacturer, and in 1972 the INTRAC models of tractors were born. These new tractors had multiple automatic hitches for implements, and used a forward cab style layout with options for front lifts and PTOs. In the late 70s, the Deutz-DX was launched. With four-wheel drive as standard, they used synchronized gears, a cab with elastic suspension, and had a horsepower range from 80 to 200.
Deutz-Fahr continued to innovate and strengthen its line-up. In 1992, the company had their one-millionth tractor roll off the assembly line. In 1995, Deutz sold off its agricultural side to an Italian company named Società Accomandita Motori Endotermici (SAME), forming SAME Deutz Fahr (SDF),and continued building tractors and other implements using Deutz engines.
Deutz now concentrates on building motors and lets others sort out the vehicles they are put into. The company currently produces over 50 different motors, a large portion of which are for mobile machinery. Air-cooled and water-cooled engines range from three to eight cylinders and can produce more than 600 horsepower.
The TCD 16-liter V8 for instance, is max rated at 697 horsepower and over 2,100 pound-feet of torque. The motor has a displacement of 15.9-liters with a 17.5:1 compression ratio. The water cooled motor uses a common rail injection system and weighs close to 3,000 pounds. Not something you’ll be swapping into your truck anytime soon. Though there are conversations on various online forums about people getting their hands on used three, four, and six cylinder versions out of work vans or tractors that have installed them into their old rigs.
This all just barely scratches the surface of the legacy the Deutz company has created. Over the years, they employed quite a few famous names, including Gottlied Diamler, Rudolph Diesel, Robert Bosch, and Wilhelm Maybach who all played a part in the evolution of the corporation.
In the same way racing does, technologies created over the years has a bleed-over effect to the automotive world. Lines are blurred, technologies modified or downsized. The Deutz name is an integral part of the history of the diesel engine and how it moves the world.