DAF and the London-Sydney Marathon!

DAF and the London-Sydney Marathon!
Team photo DAF London Sydney Marathon
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Today – Thursday 24 November 2022 – it is exactly 54 years ago that the London-Sydney Marathon started in London. It was the first time since 1907 that such a marathon was run. Officially the rally was called 'Daily Express-Daily Telegraph London-Sydney Marathon'. It was an initiative born in 1967 by two widely read newspapers, namely the “The Daily Express” from London and the “Daily Telegraph” from Sydney. A total of 100 teams were admitted, the entry fee per team was 5.000 Dutch guilders.

Only seventy cars were allowed to embark in Bombay for the journey to Perth in Australia. So you had to make sure you were there. In 1968 it turned out that all major car manufacturers saw the potential for publicity. There were 29 teams with a Ford, BLMC nineteen, Volvo seven, General Motors five, Rootes five, Mercedes also five, Citroën, Moskovitch, Porsche and Simca four each, DAF, Renault and Saab entered with two cars and with one entry Alfa Romeo, BMW, Chrysler, Lancia and Peugeot started. The marathon took place between November 24 and December 17, 1968. The event covered 16.694 kilometers run in Europe, Asia and Australia. And the winner received the gigantic prize of 85.000,00 Dutch guilders!

Publicity and goodwill

At DAF they knew that the project could generate a lot of publicity and goodwill. In those days, the DAF 55 had just seen the light of day, so creating awareness was an asset anyway. But DAF also realized very well that things could go wrong. The Eindhoven car manufacturer managed to interest several large Dutch companies in the project. AKU, BP Nederland, KLM, Martin Air, Philips, Sikkens, Vredestein, AVRO Television and De Telegraaf acted as suppliers and sponsors. Together they formed the “Dutch National Team” whose logo is still etched in the memory of most people to this day (2022).

Unprecedented level

The DAF approach was of an unprecedented level. Car manufacturers Ford and BMLC were amazed and even seemed jealous when it turned out that a Martin Air DC-3 aircraft was being used by the team. Its task was to transport parts. And another trick that had never been seen before was the wireless communication between the two DAFs and the aircraft. The team management was able to follow everything well. It was an unprecedented success for DAF! The DAF's 55 were driven by the Zandvoorts Rob Slotemaker and Rob Janssen (No. 30) and David van Lennep and Peter Hissink started with starting number 69. Not only did they reach the finish, but the Slotemaker/Janssen team also secured a top ranking by finishing seventeenth overall.

A great achievement

The DAFs, with their 1100 cc engines, were the smallest cars in the field, but they performed surprisingly well. Rob Slotemaker and Rob Janssen thus finished 17th out of 56 cars that crossed the finish line on December 18 in Sydney. That was just over half of the field that had started in London on November 24. The other DAF 55 with David van Lennep and Peter Hissink was 24 hours behind after a crash in Turkey. Nevertheless, he was still allowed on the boat for the nine-day crossing from India to Australia. There the last part of the monster journey was completed. A great performance from the Dutch. And DAF's intelligent variomatic became world famous in one fell swoop!

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Automobilia 2022 (copy)
DAF and the London-Sydney Marathon!
The DAF number 69 in action
DAF and the London-Sydney Marathon!
DAF cross-section car
DAF and the London-Sydney Marathon!
DAF in Martin Air transport
DAF and the London-Sydney Marathon!
The DAF with number 30 in action
DAF and the London-Sydney Marathon!
Number 30 through the loose sand
DAF and the London-Sydney Marathon!
Service to the DAF Nr. 69
DAF and the London-Sydney Marathon!


Give a reaction
  1. Then did an internship in Bovingdon, 60 km from London, then saw the start in London. Do you do something when you see the Dutch teams pass by nearby through the streets of London. Even still have the special edition of the Daily Express.

  2. A beautiful product. Unfortunately, 90% of journalists are idiots, and certainly not patriotic. The Daf was way ahead of its time!

  3. Formidable épopée qui m'a fait rêver quand j'avais 20 ans et depuis j'ai toujours aimé la 55 berline que je trouve effectivement plus belle que la 66

  4. DAF passenger cars was genius. And is that still the case in trucks, by the way? about the passenger car: An unlearned journalist talked about a bitch shaker. And there goes your product….

  5. Thank you for the beautiful story!!!

    Beautiful car that 55.
    I thought the 66 didn't come until late 71 and the 55 marathon has only been in the 1100 version. The Marathon package with the 55 was never delivered from the factory, but mounted at the dealer.
    The 66 was delivered from the factory as a marathon. First as 1100 and later also as 1300.

  6. The Daf 55 is one of the most beautiful Dafs, more beautiful than its successor the 66 in 1969 the 55 was only available as 1100 the 55 the first daf with a 4 cylinder water cooled engine from Renault in 1971 the 55 Marathon was released with 1100 and 1300 engines the marathon version had different wheels an engine with more power sport exhaust different handlebar striping black for the 1100 and silver for the 1300 engine and the 1300 also had extra meters the marathon version was only built for one year because in 1972 its successor the 66 was released came

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