Namibia is a wonderful country to visit – one that more than lives up to the beautiful pictures in the glossy travel brochures. I visited the ‘Land of the Brave’ in southern Africa five years ago and recently returned for an extended tour with my wife and a couple of friends from the end of September to the middle of October. Our tour covered the usual must-see tourist destinations, but we also had an unexpected encounter.
On the return journey from an excursion to Etosha National Park, we were on the lookout for a restaurant as we travelled through Otjiwarongo, a small district town with some 28,000 residents, the name of which means ‘pleasant place where fat cattle graze’ in the Bantu language of Herero. We saw a sign for ‘Casa Forno’ on the side of the road and headed straight for it. From the outside, the place looked very welcoming, so we went through the entrance into an attractive inner courtyard. AND THERE IT WAS! A small green Fendt tractor from Marktoberdorf with immaculate red painted wheel rims. I just had to take a closer look!
It was a Fendt Dieselross F12 GH, built in 1953 – in other words the water cooled model. Fendt sold around 7500 of these tractors at a price of just over 5000 marks. The model was a real hit! Small in stature, the tractor boasted 12 HP, had six gears and achieved a maximum speed of around 20 km/hour. Key to its success were a number of impressive features, such as the large clearance height above the ground combined with a low centre of gravity, which meant that it was very stable when driving along hillsides. It also only weighed around one tonne, so it put very little pressure on the soil, making it the perfect choice for hoeing and cultivating work. What’s more, it boasted exceptional traction for its size, handled fantastically well on the road thanks to its long wheelbase, and looked great.
What I found particularly exciting about the Fendt in Otjiwarongo, however, was that it was still fitted with its original, type LOZ 2-76, oil-bath air filter from MANN+HUMMEL. The filter was again neatly painted and you could clearly read the embossed wording ‘Verschlammtes Öl wechseln’ [Change contaminated oil]. Upon closer inspection, you could also see a MANN plate-type oil filter, type J 2406-14 B. Both filters were made without any special materials, which helped keep maintenance costs low. I came across both when I first started in the development department at MANN+HUMMEL and was working on new versions of these types of filter for increasingly powerful motors.
Of course, I was curious to know how the little Fendt tractor had ended up in Namibia, where it had been used and what its story was? I tried to find out but unfortunately the owner of the restaurant was not in that day, so the answer remains a mystery. Nonetheless, it was exciting to see such an old product fitted with parts produced by the company I worked for for over 40 years.