Daf 55. Elegant and mature

ER Classics Desktop 2022

DAFs. Real Dutch cars with their unique transmission. Cars that were especially popular with people who should never have obtained a driver's license. Those folks tarnished the brand with a tragic reputation. And the factory did everything it could to do something about it. But even its success in the London-Sydney marathon failed to give the brand the shine it deserved. Fortunately, DAF has survived gloriously as a truck manufacturer.

Endless gears

Due to the Variomatic, a DAF actually has an infinite number of gears. These work both forwards and backwards, so a DAF could go backwards just as fast as forwards. Later, in 1978, the possibilities of the concept were used in the most gruesome way in the merciless massacres of the Tros Reverse races. The 'hilarious' comment was given by Andre van Duin. The result was a kind of mass murder of innocent DAF vans for whom this adventurous excursion was usually their last ride.

That approach, the disinterest in the brand and the fact that Dafs were not treated very well against rust in accordance with the spirit of their time, ensured that very few reasonably undamaged copies survived. All the more because other people stood up who discovered that you could install the DAF two-cylinder boxer blocks very funny in motorcycles.

The four-cylinder was more mature

The later four-cylinder line with Renault four-cylinder blocks no longer lends itself to this. But in that four-cylinder corner were very nice copies such as the DAF 55. And that DAF 55 had absolute potential in the sporting field. After its introduction in late 55, early 1967, the DAF 1968 turned out to be very suitable for driving rallies.

The DAF 55 was a compact sedan and was built between 1968 and 1972. The model with the water-cooled Renault engine was to give the brand a more mature image. The car had more or less the same bodywork designed by Giovanni Michelotti as the DAF 44, but with a larger front (for the now required radiator) and larger rear lights.

The Variomatic as standard has a locking function, so the power was nicely distributed over the wheels, especially when the surface was slippery and / or muddy.
Renault's 1100cc engine turned out to be a very reliable power source: strong, simple in construction and maintenance-friendly.

London-Sydney as a marketing stunt

After the success in the London - Sydney Marathon of 1968, DAF came with a Marathon boost set for some extra power, which fortunately proved to be very popular with younger drivers who liked such a sporty looking DAF 55 from a marketing point of view.

The really big rallies were not won when it came to speed. But during long rallies and mountain stages, the DAFs were often high in the rankings. But a class victory was standard for DAF!

If you are looking for a DAF now, you can no longer make it with 'hundred guilders'. Fortunately, there are still some beautiful and good copies. Old School enthusiasts like the DAFs with the in-house developed two-cylinder boxer engines the best. But the four-cylinder are more 'mature' automobiles.

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A clean sleeper in North Holland


We found the red Daf 55 at advertiser Carrosso in Oldemarkt



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  1. In my younger years I didn't like the Daf. After we visited the Daf museum in Eindhoven a few years ago, I was completely over. Have now bought a 55 coupé and member of the local Daf club. This 55 is next to my T-Bird and Corvair's :-). What irritates me about the DAF is that plastic front. Would like to replace it with something else.
    gr. Jake.

  2. Hello, I also bought 55 coupe new for a day in 1970, and I was also very satisfied with it, also on longer distances, it was conformable to travel, I went there a few times on vacation in Sardinia, and there the great day in those mountains and narrow roads, and also drove a few times on a circuit in the attic, drove the six hours from the attic, and the night der Kempen, and at the six hours from the attic, it ended tragically for my day 55 coupé, went over on the penultimate lap.

  3. My mother's first car was a dark green DAF 33 that was in 1970. After a few years of tufting around it was time for a newer version and the type 44 came into the picture. This car was also used as a teaching car for my sister and a large letter L was stuck on the dashboard on the left side of the odometer and a large letter R on the right side [she did not know the difference between the two], was of course important when you arrive at an intersection and the instructor tells you to go left or right .There were too many defects on this car and I was a car mechanic and made sure that a DAF55 came which was a bit younger and reliable and drove many kilometers so after years the last car came a type 66, but after some time she could no longer drive it because she had Alzheimer's and could not know the way home after she had left. I myself have often made grateful use of these cars with the “clever stick” which was a nice experience

  4. My family and friends also included DAF enthusiasts who all had fun, also had confidence and were good with their own things! In general there were in that zga. no reliable cars, not even the Volkswagens, I still don't need an automatic transmission, you can't push it! Now the difference between own stuff or that of “someone else”, I noticed that especially business drivers demolish most cars, in earlier times it was mainly the machines that had to pay the price with the argument “it shouldn't have been an automatic one!” (on the other hand was a good experience for the manufacturers, to quickly find out the weak spots), the LPG cars also had a hard life, if they worked poorly on LPG, due to improper use, they were continuously driven on Gasoline, what the boss and the Lease Me. did not like it, if they were too good with LPG, it was no longer driven on Gasoline, which then nicely gummed up in the tank!
    But long live nostalgia!

  5. My father has worked at Daf, Vol vo Nedcar his entire career. The Daf's have never let us down, not even on holiday with a travelsleeper, family with 5 in it, incl. Erpel, across the Pyrenees. Its time is too far ahead, the mass public could not handle that!

  6. In the course of 1954, a number of highly skilled employees, led by Hub van Doorne, started developing the DAF passenger car at DAF In Eindhoven. Ing Joan van der Brugghen played an important role for technology, while Wim van den Brink was responsible for the styling. The result was shown to the public at the RAI of 1958.
    The DAF 600 with fully automatic drive. The car had a self-designed and self-built 600 cc. Air-cooled boxer engine. The operation of the car was kept very simple.
    The reactions were very positive. The production plans had to be expanded in a short time. Everything seemed to be going smoothly. The attempts to get everyone in the car failed due to a number of factors: The total lack of Dutch Chauvinism, so that everything that comes from abroad would be better than a Dutch product. This is a quality that is almost non-existent in neighboring countries. DAF also had to overcome this difficulty with the trucks. An advertising campaign that apparently did not appeal to young people. A disdain for the Automatic, a manual gearbox is much sportier, etc. etc… All possible empty arguments not to drive a unique Dutch car. Later, when heavier engines were used and the bodywork was designed in Italy, the cars gained popularity. Numerous sporting successes were apparently not enough to win over the mainly Dutch buyers. In countries such as France and Belgium the sporting successes did appeal. The oil crisis and the pessimistic statements of the then Prime Minister den Uyl were partly decisive in selling the passenger car division to Volvo Passenger Car, Sweden. To be profitable, the production number had to be doubled in the short term. This turned out to be unfeasible for a relatively small car manufacturer. That meant the end of the Dutch passenger car industry. It is also important to mention that the Automatic Transmission (now called CVT) is due to DAF's activities in the passenger car sector. A huge success that is still used daily by car manufacturers worldwide. (More than 50.000.000 times now).
    The necessary pioneers have been working in the Netherlands to set up an automotive industry. DAF has had a flywheel function in this together with a number of large manufacturing industries. It is good to see that DAF is now the most successful truck manufacturer in Europe. As part of the great American Paccar, these successes are now being propagated worldwide

  7. Beautiful cars. In fact far ahead of their time: nowadays everyone drives with an automatic transmission and the CV can be found in Toyota's, Nissan-Renaults, Audi's, among others.
    Many Dafjes also had a 'De Dion' rear axle, luxury construction.

    In Eindhoven, where else, is the DAF museum; really recommended!

  8. Bought a 66 Volvo 20 with 000 km from a Volvo dealer
    Rightfully belonged to an old lady
    The last 5 years a mechanic had to pick up the car for the MOT and all these years only 6 km were added per year.
    Bought unseen for 300 euros and sent along for 6 years and in addition maybe 300 euros in maintenance until my sons got their driver's license and blew up the engine
    Unfortunately then it happened but had a lot of fun
    Now drive Landrover 109 stawag from 1968, but it requires much more maintenance and repair😐

  9. And let's not forget that many disabled people suddenly became “mobile” because of the variomatic automatic transmission from DAF.

  10. Even the first amateur built airplane in the Netherlands, the Dijkman Dijkhaster Bravo, was equipped with a DAF engine - from a 33 - and flew!

  11. yes the Daf 2 cyl. fine work in a moped.

    London Sydney to listen to the radio anyway, and yes, the variomatic links were still the idea in the Toyota.

    Nice piece of history

  12. I am not really a Daf fan as a passenger car manufacturer or truck manufacturer, but with the passenger car I think the 55 is one of the most beautiful and certainly the rare marathon version that was only built for 1 year, I myself had a 55 marathon from 1972 orange with the black stripes and the steering wheel with the race flag on it, after the 66 marathon follower did not have that

  13. About the 'blocking function' of the variomatic.
    I could of course be wrong, but in the later models 66 there was a differential (I thought) before it was a right angle transmission annex reverse gearbox from the engine, then the variomatic and then (at least) on the 44 and 33 on both wishbones le / re a final drive.
    As a result, the car drove with the clever stick as a rear-wheel drive with a 100% lock.
    The rear wheel in the inside of the corner was only too happy to slip.
    When accelerating, the accidental barrier was often of unexpected benefit. Well, yes.
    However, if one of the belts snapped, all the power went to one of the rear wheels at once. That was a game of chance in which, while driving on the motorway, the colossus suddenly suddenly changed its course and therefore not infrequently started its final 'death roll' over one of its sides. With the single-belt drive of the Daf 46 this was resolved, but a differential was only introduced on the last Dafjes and afterwards of course also on the Volvo models thereof and the subsequent Daf 77, which has therefore been called the Volvo 340.

    • I once had a broken belt in a Volvo 343, on the highway. Of course it had the CVT of the Volvo / Daf 66 with differential but I didn't notice anything other than a hard blow under the car and a belt that flew into the meadow. Just drove home and put other straps on it. A piece of cake actually.

    • We once had a broken belt with a DAF 55. That gave a bang and a lot of noise, but nothing changed in terms of steering behavior.

  14. My 1st social academy car; in those circles you had to have a duck or an R4. But I had a delicious 55 red and with a sliding roof. Nice and spicy and indeed an adult car.
    It is striking that fellow students liked to travel with me.

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