March 24, 2009

Lanz Bulldog

A little history

If Ford’s Model T put America on wheels, then the Lanz Bulldog did a lot to mechanize German fields. Launched in 1921 by Heinrich Lanz AG, a Mannheim firm that had built farm machinery since 1859, the Bulldog was powered, as many other European tractors of the time, by a semi-diesel engine.

A two-stroke semi-diesel motor is now a forgotten type of engine, characterised by huge displacements, low output at very low RPMs and its ability to burn oil of virtually any type – even used gearbox lubricant would do. Another of its specificities was the fact that many vehicles equipped with such engines did away with a reverse gear: the motor would be stopped, then started again rotating in the opposite direction. These machines were crude, but very reliable.

The Bulldog went through many series, though it never changed much in overall appearance. The D8506 series was introduced in 1935, fitted with a 10.3-litre, one-cylinder engine that was good for 34 bhp at 540 rpm. It would stay in production for twenty years.

Lanz faced huge problems right after the end of World War Two, not the least being the fact that allied air raids have left the factory in shambles. Nevertheless the company carried on, so well that American giant John Deere got interested enough to purchase the factory in 1956 – one of its first steps on the way of globalization. When the Bulldog series’ production was finally stopped in 1960 after a quarter of a million had been built, the Lanz tractors had been renamed John Deere-Lanz, and were painted in typical John Deere green. By the late Sixties the Lanz name was totally gone, though John Deere kept in plant in operation.

About the model

Model: Lanz D8506 Bulldog
Year: 1949
Maker: Universal Hobbies
Scale: 1/43
Distributed by: Hachette as no.18 of its Tracteurs et Monde Agricole press series
Acquired: brand new, in December 2006, in Souillac, France

Such is the demand for scale models right now that even a long-gone tractor such a this one can be found in a variety of models and scales. Apart from Universal Hobbies' rendition, Schuco has a whole range of Lanzes in both 1/43 and 1/18. Yes, even 1/18, not such a long time ago a bastion for modern supercars and 50's American classics can now boast a two-stroke diesel tractor among what it has to offer! A quick search on the net also revealed a 1/35 model by a company named Kovap.

Not being extremely familiar with tractors, and not having seen the Schuco models other than on pictures, I just can speculate that the German company's models seem somewhat better than UH's one. Which doesn't mean that the latter is bad, on the contrary. To make things even more attractive, it is correctly priced. I'd give it a 13/20.




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