Historic Truck Brands


The Magirus-Deutz brand was the result of several amalgamations of pre-World War Two vehicle and engine makers. The background is pure internal combustion engine history. 

People who worked at Deutz in the early years were a veritable ‘who’s who’ of early engineering. Deutz was founded by Nicolaus Otto in 1864, as N A Otto & Cie. Otto was the inventor of the four-stroke internal combustion engine. 

Technical director, Gottlieb Daimler, was eager for Otto to produce automobiles in the early 1870s, but was rejected. He resigned, taking Wilhelm Maybach with him. Other famous engineers who worked for Deutz include Ettore Bugatti and Robert Bosch. 

In 1872 Deutz was transformed into a public share company and became known as Gasmotoren-Fabrik Deutz AG.

In the meantime, Magirus was founded by Conrad Dietrich Magirus in Ulm and began manufacturing fire-fighting vehicles in 1864. The company was responsible for many firsts including the first horse-drawn rotating fire ladder and the first steam-powered self-propelled fire engine.

Magirus’ first petrol-powered fire vehicle was released in 1906 and in 1914 Magirus invented the powered-turntable ladder (Magirus Leiter).

In 1916 Magirus launched a 40hp, three-ton truck and passenger-carrying versions arrived in 1919. In the mid-1920s Magirus was selling 2/3-ton trucks, powered by 4.7-litre, four-cylinder petrol engines and these became 2-4-tonners in the 1930s, with six-cylinder engines. 

A low-frame bus was released in 1927, with power from a Maybach seven-litre petrol engine and, by 1930, the engine was a V12, producing 100hp.

In 1933 Magirus launched its first air-cooled-engine vehicle: a one-tonner with a JLO 670cc two-stroke powerplant. The first diesel engine, with 7.5-litre capacity, also appeared that year.

Magirus’ first COE truck and fire engine was released in 1936, with a 150hp underfloor engine and bus versions soon followed.

While Magirus was busy developing its vehicle range, Deutz had concentrated on engine production, but in 1921 co-operation with Motorenfabrik Oberusel began and the company name was changed to Motorenfabrik Deutz AG.

In 1926 Deutz produced its first 14hp diesel road tractor, followed by a more powerful one a year later. In 1930 the company merged with Maschinenbauanstalt Humboldt AG and Motorenfabrik Oberursel to become Humboldt-Deutzmotoren AG. In 1938 the company was integrated into Peter Klöckner’s conglomerate and renamed Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz AG (KHD).

Magirus’ experience with fire-fighting ladders let to an interesting sideline for the company, when Germany and the USA were producing large airships. Magirus produced almost all of the movable ladders used in their construction. 

The multi-extension, wooden ladders were mounted on heavy, wooden carriage frames with a fifth-wheel-style, axle assembly and four, hand-screw outriggers to prevent the ladder from tipping. Two men could easily move a ladder. 

The ladder had to be elevated to about an 80-degree angle to allow full extension to more than 25 metres.

Magirus-Deutz provided 4×4, 6×4 and half-track trucks during the War and early post-War trucks were derivates of 1930s models.

In the early 1950s Magirus-Deutz adopted a distinctive rounded bonnet and air-cooled diesels were available in four-cylinder, in-line six-cylinder, V6 and V8 types.

A rear-engined bus with air-cooled, 130hp V8 diesel was released in 1951 and the 1956 Saturn II bus had full-air suspension.

The Magirus-Deutz truck lineup was called Jupiter, Mercur, Pluto and Sirius. The Jupiter served for many years as NATO’s primary truck model, thanks to its air-cooled engine that was cold-climate friendly. 

In the 1960s the lighter Eicher trucks filled the bottom end of the Magirus-Deutz line-up, while 4×2, 4×4, 6×4, 6×6 trucks with COE or bonnetted cabs filled the heavy end. Air-cooled diesels were V6, V8 and V10s, with outputs up to 250hp.

Magirus-Deutz signed up for the ‘Club of Four’ medium-truck cab-development exercise in 1971.

The four companies that agreed to share cab development costs were Volvo, Magirus-Deutz, Saviem and DAF. The cabs came on-line in 1975 and subsequent mergers  and take-overs meant that additional brands got to share the cab metal: Renault, Iveco and Mack.

In 1974 Magirus-Deutz was awarded a contract, called the Delta Project, for delivery of 9500 dumper and flatbed trucks (Magirus М232 D19 and M290 D26) to the USSR to work on the construction of the Baikal–Amur Mainline (BAM).This order was the largest in the company’s history. Largely because of this single order export products accounted for 70-percent of total production Magirus-Deutz.

Magirus-Deutz trucks made their way Down Under, mainly in the 1960s, in bonneted and COE form.


In 1975 Magirus-Deutz became part of Iveco which continued to produce trucks under the name Iveco-Magirus for a short time before dropping the marque from most markets, other than for specialised fire-fighting work.

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