Magirus Deutz

The logo of Magirus Deutz was a stylised M with a sharp, long center point to represent the tower of the Ulm Cathedral.

Deutz was founded by Nikolaus Otto, inventor of the four-stroke internal combustion engine, in 1864. The business initially started as N. A. Otto & Cie in partnership  with lawyer Eugen Langen. At that time the duo were not interested in the emerging automobile industry only in stationary engines. Technical Director at the time, Gottlieb Daimler was keen for the business to start production of automobiles and when this was refused he resigned in the 1870s and went out on his own. History tells us he was singularly successful. Deutz did end up in production manufacturing agricultural machinery and tractors as well as some lorries and buses as parent company of Magirus which they acquired in 1936.

Magirus was founded by Conrad Dietrich Magirus in Ulm, Germany and began manufacturing fire fighting vehicles in 1864. In 1910 it also started producing trucks and buses soon gaining an enviable reputation for high engineering standards with the vehicles capable of operating in the most “arduous” of conditions. The company was responsible for many firsts including the first horse pulled rotating fire ladder and the first steam powered self propelled fire engine. Magirus was also responsible for inventing the automatic drive turntable ladder, (Magirus Leiter) which went on to become an essential item of fire fighting equipment worldwide. In 1917 it began production of motor vehicles. 

During World War II, Deutz was ordered to produce artillery and operated under the name Klöckner Humbolt Deutz AG (KHD), Deutz has the unfortunate history of being the company which produced the notorious gas vans used to exterminate Jewish victims of Nazi Germany. The vans were used at camps such as the infamous Chełmno Extermination Camp until gas chambers were built as a more efficient method for killing large numbers of people. The total number of gas van gassings is unknown although one document dated 5 June 1942 from occupied Minsk records that from December 1941 to June 1942 three Magirus Deutz gas vans were used to kill 97,000 civilians.

Never the Less Deutz-powered commercial vehicles went on to become popular vehicles between 1960 and 1980 with some coming to Australia. These were sold under the brand name Magirus Deutz. In 1975 Magirus was purchased by Iveco which continued to produce trucks under the name Iveco Magirus for a short time before dropping the marquee from most markets. Magirus was sold in Germany and some Middle Eastern countries until the end of the 1980s. Today, the name Magirus, going right back to its origins, is only used for fire fighting equipment.

In 1995 Deutz sold the agricultural machinery division (Deutz-Fahr) to the Italian SAME company which formed SAME Deutz-Fahr.  Deutz's head office is in the Porz district of Cologne and as of 2004 was manufacturing liquid and air-cooled diesel engines. This facility now produces engines for marine and power generation which can run on either fuel oils or fuel gases including landfill gases.