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The Lanz Bulldog

Author Photo
By Staff

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This was the first Lanz Bulldog built during 1921-27. It had a 12 HP engine, no reverse gear, and was very much a stationary engine on wheels.
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Four-wheel-drive, centre-pivot steer, 12 HP Lanz builldog built during 1923-26. Very much ahead of its time.
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Road haulage variant of the Bulldog with 55 HP engine, high speed gearbox and full length mudguards.
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Semi-diesel, 60 HP Bulldog built in 1957, and probably used for road haulage.
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Lanz Bulldog wheeled tractor with a 35 HP engine, built in 1939.

17 Russel Avenue Fort Monmouth, NJ 07703. 

The Lanz Bulldog is a tractor which is perhaps known only to a
few vintage tractor collectors in the USA. As far as I know none
were imported into the U.S., and those that are here now probably
came in via Canada. The Bulldog was built in Mannheim, Germany from
1921 to about 1960. In 1956 John Deere gained control of the firm
of Heinrich Lanz and allowed production to continue for only
another four years before introducing their own models. One or two
of the larger 50 and 60 HP models are thought to have continued
until 1962, and the new tractors were known for a while as John
Deere Lanz, but 1960 was the year in which the Lanz tractors are
generally considered to have disappeared.

Until 1952 all Bulldogs had a low compression, single cylinder,
horizontal, two stroke engine with hot bulb ignition and blow lamp
starting. They were reputed to run on virtually any fuel that could
be made to flow through the pump, including old engine oil! This
tractor became the Fordson of Germany and was very highly respected
elsewhere in the world, particularly in England, Australia and New
Zealand. It was a very simple, rugged tractor which proved to be
extremely reliable. The very early ones had no reverse gear; to go
backwards the driver paused momentarily and then spun the engine in
the other direction. Even those built after the war had engines
which would run in either direction.

In 1952 the compression ratio was increased to about 10:1 and
the engine was started on petrol. The Germans called this, perhaps
erroneously, a semi-diesel. In 1955 the compression ratio was
increased again to 15:1, resulting in a true diesel-but still
single cylinder. Despite having only one cylinder these engines ran
remarkably smooth. Many are still at work in Germany.

Numerous models and variants were made. The principal engine
sizes of the hot bulb tractors were 20, 25, 35,45 and 55 HP. A
range of tracked Bulldogs was produced, and many were built
especially for industrial uses. Of particular interest was the 55
horsepower road haulage tractor with fixed cabriolet cab and a high
speed gearbox. This was designed to tow two huge four wheel
trailers and was equipped with a winch. Three-wheel and narrow
variants were also built.

As an Englishman I have been interested in Lanz since working in
Germany a few years ago. A catalogue of slides and other
photographs, started in 1982, has since developed into a Lanz
Owners Register. This now contains details of nearly 2,000 Lanz
tractors worldwide, mostly in Germany, Holland, Australia, New
Zealand and Britain. In building the Register I have gained a large
fund of knowledge of who owns which model, who has technical
literature and where to go for spares. I can also date individual
models. The Register has proved popular in England and I also
believe in Australia and New Zealand. Anyone starting a restoration
can see at a glance who has the same model and thus where to go for
advice.

I have details of a few Bulldogs in the USA and Canada, but not
many. I ask anyone who owns a Lanz Bulldog or Lanz Alldog (the
toolbar tractor built for a few years in the 50’s) to write to
me with the details from the manufacturer’s plate. I will enter
them in the computer and then send off a copy of the USA/Canada
extract from the total Register by return. I can also give the date
of such a tractor if it is not stamped on the plate. I should add
that the Register is produced as a hobby; it is not for commercial
usage, and as far as possible no tractor is included without the
owner’s permission.

If you have a Lanz tractor, I would very much like to hear from
you. I should add that if anyone requires help or advice regarding
the vintage tractor scene in Britain I would be happy to help. So,
if you would like to know more about rallies, books, magazines,
museums, toy tractors, or indeed anything else connected with old
tractors on the other side of the Atlantic, then please drop me a
line. If I don’t have the answer to your question then I am
sure I can find someone who has. My telephone number is
201-544-9207.  

Published on Dec 1, 1988

Gas Engine Magazine

Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines