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Uphill Sons Chewton MendipDeutz Mastercab

Neil Gunning has a soft spot for Deutz.

Words G Pictures Peter Henshaw


Not that old, but still a rarity. A five-cylinder air-cooled Deutz DX.

Neil Gunning has a soft spot for Deutz.

Mid Somerset, around Wells and Radstock, where Glastonbury Tor always seems to be on the horizon. Rolling countryside and mixed farms, from the edge of the Levels up onto the Mendips. You might expect to see a lot of MFs, John Deeres and New Hollands. And, of course, you do.

But keep an eye open and something else keeps popping up - boxy, angular tractors from the 1970s and 80s, painted in a near florescent lime green - they wear the Deutz badge, were made in Cologne and powered by air-cooled diesels that were the German manufacturer's trademark. It's not that farmers in this part of the southwest have a particular affinity for German engineering (though Neil Gunning, owner of the DX85 pictured here, certainly appreciates it) more that Uphills, the local dealer at Radstock, has been an active seller and promoter of Deutz for some time. And as so often with a go-ahead dealer, that shows up in the buying decisions of farmers round and about-the legacy, even two or three decades later, can be a sprinkling of unusual tractors in one area.

I for one think that this effect is being diluted over time. Buyers these days seem to be more willing to shop around for the best deal - the power of the internet means that it's easier to find a tractor with a bigger discount, even if it means travelling a couple of hundred miles to buy it. So loyalty to the local dealer is dwindling, but there's something else. Fewer tractors are being sold now, but they cost a lot more.

This has an effect on where tractors are sold on to when the time comes. Big expensive machines, fewer in number (and let's not forget, fewer farmers to buy them) means they're more likely to be sold to someone well outside the local area. End result? Fewer local pockets of one-make, clustered around a well known and respected dealer.

None of which has any bearing on the Deutz we've featured here, because Neil Gunning and his DX85 are prime examples of the local dealer effect. Neil isn't a farmer, but he does drive tractors and machinery for a living. His dad drove a Deutz for a local farmer, and the first machine Neil drove was a four-wheel drive DX85. He went on to drive Deutz at Gartells, a well known local contractor (and still home to the Gartell Light Railway, if you're ever passing Templecombe and Stalbridge) and currently operates a slew digger for another contractor.

Deutz - Diesel Pioneer

Vintage Motor Wheel Tractor

Original and ready to work...and that's just the dog.

7120 Deutz Tractor Dashboard Replacement

Big duct supplies cooling air to the motor.

Comprehensive dash was part of the package.

Dog Driving Tractor

Welded-on Ford exhaust is earmarked for replacement.

Original and ready to work...and that's just the dog.

Deutz was a true pioneer, of the four-stroke engine, of applying diesel power to tractors and of air-cooled diesels. Tractors though, were something of a sideline - its main business was (and still is) making engines.

Deutz the company went public in 1867, a partnership between engineer-businessman Eugene Langen and inventor Nicolaus Otto. At first, they built gas engines, but within a few years Otto had perfected the four-stroke principle, adding low-voltage ignition to produce an engine that could run on liquid fuel. The company was a success, but there were no thoughts of tractors, or indeed diesels. They did make an agricultural machine as early as 1907, when Rudolf Diesel was still experimenting with compression-ignition, but it didn't come to anything, and Deutz would concentrate on large forestry truck/tractors well into the 1920s. Not only that, but an approach from Herr Diesel was rebuffed, as Eugene Langen thought the idea would never work!

Fast forward 30 years or so, and Deutz launches its first proper tractor, the MTZ222, but the really big news came the following year, 1927, with a diesel version. This was probably the world's first diesel tractor, an llhp single complete with 540rpm PTO. In the meantime, Deutz had been fully converted to the diesel idea. In fact, after Eugene Langen died, it built one of Rudolf's very early motors, making changes of its own, and after the man's patents ran out in 1907, there was no stopping them, building massive diesel power units for ships and power stations. By 1914 one-third of the Deutz engine output was diesels.

The company hit hard times in the 1920s and 30s, thanks to Germany's hyper-inflation and the worldwide slump following the Wall Street Crash, but large orders from the government of Soviet Russia enabled it to keep going. By 1938, Deutz was Germany's largest maker of diesels, and had diversified into trucks. During World War Two, it suffered greatly from Allied bombing, three-quarters of its production plant reduced to rubble. But even as D-Day was underway in 1944, Deutz was beginning to mass produce something that would be synonymous with its name for decades to come - the air-cooled diesel.

thinks he's the third owner - he's had to reapply for the V5 as the previous keeper hadn't bothered with such formalities.

What was clear was that the DX wasn't in pristine condition. The clutch was defunct, the tractor had been left outside for some time and was in serious need of a repaint. It had also been fitted with a front loader at one point, because the mounting points both front and middle have clearly been used, confirmed by the fact that the front end was clogged up with straw. Z>

Big duct supplies cooling air to the motor.

Rolling restoration

"I just like them," Neil said. "They're very well built, very solid, very German, and a bit ahead of their time, I think. They're also very comfortable to drive and sit in, there's plenty of room in the cab and the gearbox is good." He also likes the fact that you can open all the windows wide on a hot day, so driver, as well as engine, can be air-cooled. So who needs air conditioning? Mind you, the DX 120 Neil's dad drove did have aircon, powerful enough to frost its glass on the inside. "You don't see many of these at shows," he added, "so I thought I'd track one down."

Despite the effect of Uphills, older Deutz tractors still aren't exactly thick on the ground in Somerset. The DX range was launched in 1979, taking over from the previous D8006, 10006 and D13006, but they were simple air-cooled diesels in the same mould, offering a complete range from 75 to 145hp. All used a variation on the same basic five- or six-cylinder engine, turbo'd in the top power option and devoid of any sort of electronics. It's easy to see why these simple, well-built tractors were popular second-hand buys in Poland for years, many being re-exported over there. And in Africa too, where the air-cooled motor's simplicity and ability to cope with hot climates was much appreciated.

Anyway, Neil didn't have to travel far to find his DX, and this one surfaced at a farm in Radstock. He part-swapped it for a Deutz 7206, a smaller four-cylinder tractor he had at the time, which suited the farmer better than the bigger DX. The tractor didn't come with much history, though Neil thinks it was first on a farm on Exmoor and

"They're very well built, very solid, very German and a bit ahead of their time."

Comprehensive dash was part of the package.

Welded-on Ford exhaust is earmarked for replacement.


Deutz - The Dealer's View

Uphill & Sons of Chewton Mendip were Deutz dealers for over 25 years. Back in 1974, they sold Fords, but the company's strike record meant that these were increasingly difficult to get hold of. So they switched to Deutz, then a relatively unknown make in the UK.

Rob Uphill, a boy when his dad took Deutz on, remembers them well. "They were competitive on price, and we sold 50 a year at the peak. Deutz had some good dealers in the south west, so they were quite strong here.

"The guys that had them were generally very pleased - they were good on fuel, reliable. The only problem we had was with the British-made cab on the 06, which was difficult to get in and out of, and would rust like a pig! When it went to the DX with the Master cab that was a big improvement. The syncromesh gearbox was good, and it was a bit ahead of its time, better than the Ford 76 and 66."

What about the Deutz air-cooling? "Well it was a good cold starter - if nothing else on the farm would start, the Deutz would. They didn't overheat as long as you kept the fins clear - they had to be blown out with an airline periodically or they'd get blocked with chaff. But because that was a bit different to other tractors, a lot of farmers didn't bother to do it."

Uphills still hold stocks of spares for the Deutz 06 and DX series, so if you need anything they could well be worth a call (01761 241270).


Agricultural Engineers

CHEWTC' I rajDi'

Uphills have been a help in tracking down spares.

Tractor Bonnet

With those black bonnet stripes, it looks vaguely sporty, In a 1970s boy racerlsh sort of way.

Neil isn't sure how many hours the tractor has done, as the cable failed at 5447, but judging by its condition he reckons it must have broached 9000. The good news was that though the DX might look a bit sad, it hadn't been bashed about too much - there were no dents and even the steps were unbent, while the paint, trim and cab were all original.

What Neil didn't want to do was a nut and bolt restoration. He wanted an interesting working tractor, able to do the odd job and be taken to shows and road runs. First job was the clutch, and a fitter was called in to do the business. This proved quite straightforward, as the cab doesn't need to be removed to split the tractor - it can just be jacked up. The big diesel and its 12-speed transmission appears to be hale, hearty and working well, so that has been left alone, apart from servicing.

"I don't throw a lot of money at it," says Neil, which he confirmed by brush painting the tractor rather than spraying it. It's not a show finish, but then this is still a working tractor, and he uses it for all sorts of odd jobs, helping with hay making and hauling logs. He's also just bought a plough, a 1974 Kverneland four-furrow, with a view to doing some matches next year. "The thing is," he says, "I know I can always jump in, start it up and do a job if I need to." He likes the air-cooled diesel ("nice and basic, all mechanical") which has never once shown a sign of overheating, though this is Somerset we're talking about. I'm told that Mid Western farmers used to find their Deutz's could get hot and bothered when the fine dusty soil clogged the space in between the cylinder fins. Again, not a problem in the southwest of England. Z>

Tyre Perishing
Tyres will be replaced soon - the sidewalls are perishing.

Deutz - The Allis Connection

Deutz Tractor Old


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Big square bonnet - but there's no radiator behind the grille.

It was 1949, four years after the end of the war, that Deutz was allowed to go back into full production of engines, not to mention tractors, and thanks to the simple, reliable nature of the air-cooled motors, which were happy to run at extreme temperatures at either end of the scale, they were a great success. By 1954, Deutz claimed to have built 50,000 tractors and 275,000 air-cooled diesels.

Quite a few of those tractors were sold to French farmers who didn't mind buying German so soon after the war, and production soon expanded from little singles and twins into bigger four- and six-cylinder tractors. Meanwhile, Deutz began exporting to the USA, where the market for tractors was vast, and did reasonably well, though it had a limited dealer network, and there was probably some lingering suspicion of these funny little 'furrin' tractors with their air-cooled engines.

Deutz's big chance in the States came in 1985. Allis-Chalmers was in trouble, and anxious to sell off its farm equipment division. Deutz bought it, but not the big factory at West Allis, which soon closed. Now, Deutz tractors for the US were rebadged as Deutz-Allis and sold through A-C's big network of over 1000 dealers. That took care of the smaller machines, while remaining stocks of big Allis' were also rebadged, while plans were put in hand to build big tractors in the USA, with air-cooled Deutz motors. These were built for Deutz by White-New Idea, from 1989.

But by then, Deutz itself was in trouble. It had suffered from the worldwide recession of the 1980s, was losing money, and may have overstretched itself with the Deutz-Allis project. Sales and profits shrank, and in 1987 the company lost money for the first time ever. So Deutz-Allis was really on shaky ground before it got going. However, a saviour was around the corner. A little known name bought the Deutz-Allis operation in 1990, and one of their first actions was to change the tractor colour from Deutz green to Allis-Chalmers orange! And who was this saviour of Deutz-Allis? It was a fledgling company at the time, but within a decade would be one of the biggest tractor makers in the world - AGCO.

Flaky transmission warning has just about survived.

Yourtractors w

Deutz 7206

The Deutz DX 85 is quite a compact machine.

The Deutz has done a few road runs, including the Cheddar Gorge run, which raises money for the air ambulance and which Neil and the DX have driven twice. He estimates (remember, no working tractormeter) it'll run up to around 20mph on the road: "It's well geared as well, you don't have to keep changing up and down, and it lugs pretty well."

Despite the fact that the DX was superseded back in 1983, spares are still obtainable, thanks in part to dealer Rob Uphill, who still has some of the old bits in stock, or is willing to look for them, and was able to sell Neil the proper parts book and manual. So he's hopeful that a meter cable will turn up one day, and a new headlining, which would be nice to do as well. Oh, and a genuine silencer, as the current one is a Ford can that's been welded on. New tyres are on the way, more because the current ones are perishing than worn out. And one of the brake cylinders is binding, probably a legacy from the DX's long lay-up, so that's on the list of jobs as well.

What Neil won't be doing is selling the five-cylinder DX. "I have been hassled by a couple of people who want me to sell it, but I won't. These older Deutz tractors don't often come up, and I just like having it around."

"It's well geared as well, you don't have to keep changing up and down and it lugs pretty well."

Specification -Deutz DX 85

Engine type

Bore x stroke


Rated speed



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