The DAF (vanDoornes Automobile
Fabriek) has a long history. The company started producing truck trailers in
Einhoven, The Netherlands in the early 1930's with the brothers Hub and Wim
vanDoorne. The company soon progressed to the next stage and began producing the
trucks to pull those trailers around 1949.
In 1954 Hub and Wim
began development of the now infamous CVT Automatic/Variomatic transmission
and in 1958 introduced the DAF 600 car with a 600 cc air-cooled motor and the
Variomatic transmission. The DAF 600 was produced from 1958 through 1963.
The car was exported all over Europe and to the United States. Very few examples
of the original DAF 600 remain today despite the fact that around 30,591cars
It was 1960 that DAF first began to export their
first cars to the United States. Under the guidance of Mr. Jan Souten the import
company called Eastern Cars of Holland based out of Brooklyn, N.Y. (a wholly
owned subsidiary of DAF) with a 69 dealer network set up to sell the Dutch DAF
to the American public. In 1964 the responsibility of importation passed
on to Ferguson Motors (a multi marque company).
The 600 cc was
followed by the more powerful Model 30 in 1961 which had a 750 cc air-cooled
motor. Body styles remained identical up until the Model 32 in 1965 when
the DAF underwent a major restyling. The 32 DAF sported a new front grille, a
squared off roof line, less flowing curves and an upgraded interior.
Mechanically it remained the same due to the reliability of the 750 cc motor and
In 1967, DAF introduced of the new 33,
44 and 55 models. This was also the year that DAF ceased importation to the
United States. With more government safety regulations vanDoornes
Automobile Fabriek could not, or would not, upgrade their cars to meet those new
specifications. Mr. Jan Souten managed to quickly import six of the new DAF 44's
into the country before the cutoff date.
In 1972 DAF stopped
production of the 44 and 55 and introduced the DAF 66 equipted with 1100cc &
1300cc water cooled Renault motors coupled with the Variomatic transmission. The
more powerful and totally redesigned DAF was a big hit with the public.
Production and sales figures were astounding, approximately 138,840 units were
built and sold between 1972 and 1975.
The DAF 66 was designed
with the idea of returning to the United States market and it encompassed all
the safety features required for importation. Unfortunately, the
1973 gas war put an end to that plan and they never reached our shores.
Also, this year DAF developed the new DAF 77 prototype. The 77 was a radical
design, so unlike any other DAF built. Development of this model continued for
three years and in 1975 it was ready for production.
the introduction of yet another model to the DAF line-up. This was the Type 46
which featured a single belt Variomatic transmission and a Dion rear independent
axle. This model was the only model to feature the single belt, the Dion rear
axle was also featured on the DAF 66.
With the passing of the
vanDoorne brothers (Hub and Wim), van Doornes Automobile Fabriek was sold to
car manufacturing giant Volvo of Sweden in 1975 so the DAF 77 never made
production as a DAF, rather as a re-badged Volvo (The Volvo 300 series).
Volvo continued production of the model 66 and 340/360 with the Variomatic
transmission until 1980. The last of the old DAF style cars were now history.
Although DAF continues to produce trucks to this day under the PACCAR Company (a
USA based truck manufacturer who also produces the Peterbilt and Freightliner
trucks), the cars are a thing of the past.