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DAF 33 driving impression. In love with Dutch patina glory

DAF 33
ER Classics Desktop 2022

It is a unique opportunity to drive the old-fashioned DAF again. When I am in the run-up to a team day at Damiaan Huizinga (from Holland's DAF-je) I get delighted. Damiaan has a number of DAF 33 copies in his rental fleet. I fall in love with one of them - with a very weathered Azula lacquer layer. Mossy corners of the window seal that holds the original steel glass, suckers, loose material and faded paint show what 51 years can do to a car. Two hours of steering then prove that the technical reliability of this car from 1968 is all right.

Driving a DAF, it seems so simple. The two Variomatic positions are important forwards and backwards. It is often thought that a child can do the laundry. It is precisely there that many people are mistaken. You are inclined to put the lever in the neutral position, then start the engine, and then choose the direction of travel. Wrong. Starting - with the hand choke extended halfway - is done when the gear lever is in the forward or reverse position. When starting, you should not touch the accelerator, if you do, the DAF wants to get rid of it immediately. Also useful to know: when the lever is in neutral and you accelerate, you have to wait a while before the gear lever can be set to the desired position. Then the Variomatic is back on its breath. When you ignore it, the transmission protests.

Smooth start, playing with the gas pedal

I follow the protocol. The starter motor runs twice. The 746 cc engine responds well and runs nicely, even when the choke is switched off later. It soon becomes apparent that this DAF said goodbye to the necessary horses in its 51 anniversary. Originally there were 32 (SAE) and with that specification the DAF always needed a run-up to get going. Now that is completely the case. Yes, some extra power is released when the gas is lifted for a short time and afterwards it is slowly kicked in again. Then you feel the acceleration of the DAF slightly better. Yet the classical Eindhoven has only one suitable habitat: tour routes through the interior. However, on the larger road you have to stay away. And preferably as far as possible.

A different experience of speed

This is also confirmed on the small roads. Before you reach a somewhat acceptable speed in that beautiful Weerribben, you will be sweet. The DAF 33 always gives the impression that it drives faster than it actually does. The lively chassis reinforces that feeling, together with the air-cooled two-cylinder engine in the front that provides an answer to the question of how sound insulation works. It is not there. Or minimal.


Speaking of minimal: in this version there is one sun visor and the small windows in the front doors cannot be opened. Infotainment is also limited. There are some warning lights, and the amount of gasoline can be guessed. When the bottom of the fuel stock comes into view, there is no gas meter in this copy to point you to that. No, a light in the speedometer tells you to stop at the next gas station. The DAF, on the other hand, has a vacuum-controlled mountain brake, as well as a few simple switches for light and windscreen wipers.

Basic, but different

The basics of driving, but in a different way. Because definitely not basic is a trunk capacity of more than 400 liters. There is also more space inside than on the inside. Four people - albeit with a bit of planning - can find a place quite easily. They are all on very reasonable furniture. In addition, they also have an excellent view of what is happening outside the striking coach of the DAF. An added plus is that these sixties DAF still feels very solid, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the build quality in Eindhoven.

Patina levers in dashboard

The operation is childishly simple, although the Variomatic poker does not simply give in if you want to change the direction of travel (when stationary). The sturdy and patented levers for the high beam, direction indicators and horn sound from the dashboard and raise no questions. The non-energized drum brakes and control also do their job well and are easy to operate. However, it is important to slow down and slow down well before a sharp turn. This way you prevent the DAF from imposing an unpleasant rhythm on you. Photographer Oud and I would rather watch somewhere else how it dances.

Not for sale

What a special car. In love. That's me on this third DAF I'm riding in today, He defied the elements for 51 year. With all its imperfections, it appears to be very reliable, a little maintenance is good for years of Dutch classic pleasure. Really, when you know the stubborn DAF, it will never be easier to understand. And this is a DAF 33 as it should be. The character hits you straight through the patina. Signed by and for life. Damiaan Huizinga does not hesitate to sell the DAF to me. And I fully understand that.

With many thanks to 't Binnenhof in Paasloo and Damiaan Huizinga (Hollands DAFJE from). Look for arrangements with DAFs on the websites and on




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  1. Nice article. I do have a DAF. The same for 25 years. I therefore know from experience that if you turn off a daf while it is in the forward or reverse position, you don't have to wait to switch. You have to do that if you have just given too much gas in neutral. The centrifugal clutch has set the drive shaft in motion and then it takes a while before the rest has returned. Too early in the forward or reverse position then results in a fierce brushing teeth.

    • Thank you for your response and your addition! It is really something that you will not consider if you are not or hardly driving a DAF. But as you sketch it, it was indeed a special fact.

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