Eicher vintage tractors
The traditional Alpine blue brand from Bavaria is one of the classics among German tractors. Between the 1930s and 1980s, nearly 150,000 Eicher tractors were built, many of which still exist today. We look back at the company's long and successful history.
The history of Eicher
From the 1930s onwards
Josef Eicher Sr. sold cars in the 1930s in the Bavarian town of Forstern, near Munich. Fascinated by engine and car technology, his sons Josef and Albert Eicher started building their own tractor in 1935. When they founded the Eicher company in 1936, Josef and Albert Eicher were less than 30 years old. When the original Eicher was demonstrated on neighbouring farms, farmers were very interested from the start.
After all, this was the time when motorised technology was slowly making its appearance on many farms. After developing the first model of diesel tractor, Eicher was even represented at the DLG exhibition in Munich in 1937. The block-built machines with external Deutz engines quickly established themselves on the regional tractor market.
During the Second World War
During the Second World War, Gebr. Eicher Motorenbau OHG eventually built tractors with wood carburettor engine technology on behalf of the National Socialist government, of which only a handful have survived.
Production finally came to a halt in the mid-1940s due to scarce resources. It was only after the war that production slowly resumed.
Revival after the war
In 1948, a new tractor series was finally introduced. It was the Eicher ED 16/I. It now had a single-cylinder engine developed by Eicher itself, capable of producing 16 hp. What was special about it was the air-cooling system, whereas until then engine and tractor manufacturers had relied on the tried-and-tested water-cooling system.
This made Eicher the first company in the world to successfully use air-cooled engines, which became very popular. Air-cooled engines had many advantages: the engine was much more economical, maintenance-free and clearly structured. Moreover, the cooling system could no longer freeze in winter.
A short time later, tractor manufacturers like Deutz, Porsche and many others did the same and abandoned water-cooling. Due to high demand, more ED (Eicher Diesel) models followed in the following years.
From the 1950s onwards
In 1953, the 20,000th Eicher tractor was completed and sold. As a result of the economic success and revival, Eicher bought the "Fahrzeug- und Maschinenbau GmbH", or "Famag" for short, in mid-1951. In future, agricultural machinery would be manufactured here, which was to be precisely tailored to the company's own models.
That way, in future, everything would be sold to farmers from one source. The machines produced included ploughs, manure spreaders, tedders, pick-up wagons and much more. All these machines excelled with advanced systems and proprietary patents. For example, the spreading roller of the manure spreader could be rotated at will to control the spreading pattern and spreading quantity.
Solution for small farms
When Eicher realised in the mid-1950s that there were still many small and very small farms that could not afford a mid-range tractor with around 20 hp, the EKL 11/2 was introduced in 1956. This tractor was powered by an 11 hp Deutz engine and was to drive horses out of farming for good.
In the 1950s, Eicher also built tractors for estates and large farms that could deliver up to 60 hp. Early on, Eicher moved away from the single-cylinder concept and designed first two-cylinder and then three-cylinder engines. A tractor with permanent four-wheel drive (ED 22) was also soon added to the range. However, this early four-wheel drive model with four equally sized tyres did not catch on for the time being.
This shows that the Eicher company was characterised by great innovative performance and a constant rethinking of products. So they also tinkered with tool carriers, trucks, self-propelled harvesters and much more. One object that still fascinates at tractor gatherings is the Eicher wheel. The Eicher tractor drives under its own power through a 360° loop.
The first Agri-Robot
Another special feature was the so-called Agri-Robot. This was the world's first self-propelled automatic plough. Placed by the farmer, it ploughed the field all by itself without anyone having to supervise its work. In the 1960s, this was both amazing and fascinating because the whole thing worked without electronics. Purely mechanical, with only touch wheels, the Agri-Robot recognised a boundary furrow laid out by the farmer on the headland and turned as soon as it reached it.
Unfortunately, this invention also failed to catch on in agriculture. As did the Eicher Eichus, a mixture of wheelbarrow substitute, forklift and agricultural loader for use on the farm.
Farmer comfort was also important to the Bavarians. Even early Eicher models had front axles with leaf springs. Later models also had the Eicher-developed health seat, which could be adjusted to the driver's weight.
Successful Eicher predator series
In the late 1950s, the Eicher brothers gradually introduced the very famous predator series with Leopard, Panther, Tiger and King Tiger. These were later succeeded by the Buffalo, Mammoth and Wotan models, which already had a six-cylinder engine.
The Eicher could still be recognised by its distinctive livery and the separate cooling air ducts for each cylinder. This series was the company's absolute breakthrough and so, apart from minor modifications and facelifts, the Raubtier series was produced for almost 20 years.
Today, this model series is very popular with collectors. This is due to the robustness, the unique sound of the air-cooled inline engines, the beautiful 1960s design and the great colour scheme of the blue-grey colour with the fire-red rims. The large Eicher with inline engines also had a powerful look due to the very long wheelbase, giving them good roadholding and great off-road mobility.
The Raubtier series was eventually succeeded in the 1980s by models with four-digit number combinations, as was common with competitors at the time. The largest of these was the 3145 Turbo with an impressive 145 hp from six cylinders. Only 16 examples of this model were built. Soon after, after more than 150,000 had been produced, tractor manufacturing came to an end.
Eicher goes bankrupt
On 6 March 1992, the company went bankrupt for the first time. It then formed the Eicher Landmaschinen Vertriebs GmbH, which continued to produce narrow-track tractors for fruit and vegetable production until 2001. However, the Eicher brand name is still used in India at Eicher Goodearth.
Eicher vintage tractors today
Eicher tractors thus belong to a long line of interesting German manufacturers of vintage tractors. The charm of the Bavarian family business, the dreamlike design of the 50s and 60s, the beautiful colour scheme, the powerful and respectful model designations of the predator series, as well as the robustness of the tractors distinguish this tractor brand in particular.
Apart from the tractors, Eicher's agricultural machines are also particularly popular. They round off the whole concept and make the hearts of classic car enthusiasts beat faster at tractor gatherings. In collector circles, Eicher's rare pre-war tractors and four-wheel drive tractors are especially popular, but unfortunately also very expensive.
Parts supply for Eicher is still good, and there are several parts dealers specialising in Eicher.
Eicher vintage tractors on Online Classic World
Old Eicher tractors are in high demand these days, which is also noticeable on Online Classic World. We always have more than 80 Eicher tractors on offer, many tractors are often sold within a few hours or days.
With us you will find the right Eicher tractor, cheap and in good condition near you!