DAF CARS: HISTORY & THE 32/33 MODELS
In 1959, seven years after the start of the DAF Truck production line, DAF
started the production of passenger cars. First car that was taken into production was the
"600" model. This model, also known as the "A-type", was a design of
Dutch engineer Van Den Brink and incorporated some very innovative technologies. Most
important of those innovations was the so-called "Variomatic" transmission, an
automatic transmission that didn't have any actual gears.
This transmission was constructed out of a centrifugal clutch attached to a system of two belt driven sets of conical metal wheels that were separately adjustable at the engine and at the rear wheel side. The gear ratios were continuous variable by squeezing the rubber belts inward or outward of the conical metal wheels by moving the conical metal wheels closer together or further apart. The most appropriate gear ratio for any given speed and engine stress combination was automatically selected. "1001 options for the most ideal gear ratio" as the DAF advertisements said...
DAF stuck to this "transmission of the future" all its car-building life and even today it still exists in a high-tech version called "Transmatic", built by VDT (Van Doorne's Transmissie b.v.) in Tilburg, The Netherlands. The new 1999 Nissan Primera can be ordered with this automatic transmission for instance.
The DAF 600 was fitted with an air-cooled 2 cylinder 4 stroke engine, much
like that of the CitroŽn 2CV, which produced 22 hp @ 4000 rpm and gave the car a top
speed of 90 kph. From 1959 to 1963 30,563 DAF 600s were built. In 1961 the DAF 750 became
available, an improved version of the 600 fitted with a bigger engine (746 cc displacement
rather than 590 cc and producing 30 hp), of which 16,767 units were sold up to 1963. 1961
also saw the introduction of the "Daffodil 30" model: a luxurious version of the
DAF 750 with slightly revised bodywork of which 23,045 units were sold.
In 1963 all models were replaced by the new Daffodil (a contraction of the words DAF and Krokodil, Dutch for crocodile, inspired by the looks of the front of the car which in some eyes reflected the face of the well known amphibian) 31. The 31 was a further developed version of the Daffodil 30 and sold 56,200 units until it was succeeded by the Daffodil 32 in 1965. The 32, again, was an improved version of the 31 model with technics and bodywork still hailing back to the DAF 750 and selling 53,674 units up to 1967 and an additional 500 units for the rally sport model Daffodil 32 S (only built in 1966 and fitted with a tuned engine producing 36 hp @ 4500 rpm instead of the usual 30 hp @ 4000 rpm).
The end of this line was the DAF 33 (shown in the picture above) that was introduced in 1967 and built up to 1974. The lines of the bodywork of the original DAF 600 were very much visible in this model, but had grown more 'tighter' and angular over the years. The 33 still had the 746 cc two cylinder air-cooled boxer engine, now producing 32 hp @ 4200 rpm. The car weighed 660 kg and had a length of 3610 mm, a with of 1440 mm and a height of 1380 mm. Top speed was 112 kph and it accelerated from 0 to 80 kph in 17 seconds (in the original DAF 600 it took 33 seconds to get from 0 to 80 kph). The DAF 33 was by far the most sold version of this series; 131,621 of these cars have been produced.
The DAF passenger car production facilities were sold to Volvo in 1975, so the original DAF 600 in all its guises up to the 33 model has been the mainstay of DAF car production until the end. Although the car sold relatively well, it never broke trough internationally. Somehow the Variomatic transmission, the main selling point of the car, never caught on. Starting from the Daffodil models the cars were reliable and easy to maintain, even the transmission, but could never compete with the ever popular VW 'bug' models, the Renault 4, the Austin Mini and other popular small cars in its era. Still, it was a characteristic car that had a very loyal following of people who liked the comfortable car. The problem was however that the same loyal following, often ridiculed to be a bunch of elderly men or women that couldn't drive properly, gave it its dull and unappealing image.
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