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Formula_racer.jpg (25582 bytes)In the late sixties DAF wanted to get rid of their plain image and prove the capabilities of their Variomatic CVT transmissions. DAF decided to set up a competitions department (run by Rob Koch) and started a Formula 3 program in 1965. In 1967 DAF entered two cars in F3, based on Brabham chassis and adapted by a firm called "The Chequered Flag". These cars carried the DAF name and were raced by Van Lennep and Beckwith, who each won a race that year. The CVT system was modified for these racing cars by Wim Hendriks. Cosworth engines were used, tuned for top-end power because the CVT system took care of the necessary flexibility.
Development costs were high and competition was strong in F3. After 1967 the DAF involvement in F3 diminished. They made a few cars based on Tecno chassis (as seen on this picture) and experimented with the placing and lay-out of the transmission, but never were competitive anymore. By 1970 DAF had turned away from single-seater racing.

DAF_Tecno_F3_1968_f3q.jpg (56331 bytes)Here you see a more recent picture of the DAF Formula 3 car of 1968. It has been beautifully restored and painted in the original Dutch national racing color: bright orange. The car was entered in the 1968 F3 season by Racing Team Holland and drivers were again Beckwith and Van Lennep.
The chassis of this car was built by an Italian company called Tecno. Tecno(kart) started out as a manufacturer of karts and had at that time just expanded it product range to F3 cars. The 1967 F3 cars of Tecno showed a lot of promise with Clay Regazzoni scoring Tecno's first win. This potential and the simple layout of the car were the reasons DAF switched to Tecno. In 1968 the Tecno F3 car made its promise come true by winning 32 of the 65 major international Formula 3 races; unfortunately none of the victories was scored by a car of the Racing Team Holland.

DAF_Tecno_F3_1968_r3q.jpg (56469 bytes)This rear view reveals the engine/transmission layout and shows that the special Variomatic transmission takes up a lot of space. The rear pulleys of the transmission are attached to the crankshaft of the Cosworth MAE engine and stick out of the back of the car. The front pulleys are placed in front of the rear axle and are linked to the rear wheels. Transmission layout was therefore reverse to that of the cars.
The blue car you see (in part) behind the DAF F3 is the 1993 Williams FW15C CVT prototype. This car was used by the Williams F1 team to test the feasibility of a CVT transmission in Formula 1. Patrick Head developed this CVT transmission in cooperation with Van Doorne's Transmissie B.V. (VDT), and it's said that the concept worked well. The FIA, the governing body of Formula 1, banned all CVT transmissions from single-seater racing in 1994.

DAF_Tecno_F3_1968_transmission.jpg (56946 bytes)This is the 1968 Formula 3 Variomatic transmission in detail. The wide rubber driving belts are fully exposed, and that proved to be a weak spot in the design, especially in wet conditions. The rear axle is constructed out of two independent half-shafts placed between the transmission's pulleys. The cylinder on top is part of an hydraulic system that operated the front pulleys.

More successful was DAF's involvement in rallying. Starting with the Daffodil 32 S in 1966 DAF entered national and international rally events (like the Rally de Monte Carlo, the Coupe des Alpes, the Tuliprally and the Acropolisrally) and accumulated an impressive number of class wins. The DAF rallycars excelled in endurance which was best proven by finishing the 1968 London to Sydney marathon with a DAF 55.

Rallye1.jpg (22046 bytes)     Rallye2.jpg (24241 bytes)

DAF continued its participation in rallying through all of its car building days, and didn't even stop then. DAF liked the idea of promoting their vehicles in gruesome marathon rallies so much that the company started entering trucks in the notorious Paris-Dakar rallies in the late seventies. At first just to finish it and win the special truck class, but later DAF became more and more ambitious.
It all culminated in the monstrous DAF TurboTwin of 1987, a purpose built all-terrain vehicle fitted with two turbo charged diesel engines, one driving the front and the other the rear wheels. It weighed more than 10 ton, had over 1,000 hp and was meant for outright victory, beating the frontrunners Mitsubishi, Peugeot and Porsche who entered 4x4 cars. Unfortunately it ended in tears. Only one person could drive this truck: Jan de Rooy, the man who had developed it over the years and had been the factory driver from the beginning. But DAF wanted a back-up for if Jan would fail and entered a second TurboTwin. The driver of that truck was experienced and had taken part in the Paris-Dakar before, but was too eager and splattered himself and his truck over the Sahara desert at high speed taking an unexpected sand dune. The DAF company withdrew its remaining trucks (the TurboTwin of Jan de Rooy and a few back-up trucks with parts for it) immediately and never (officially) returned since. Some DAF based GINAF trucks have been entered until recently, but only to carry parts for other teams.
In 1998 DAF Trucks, now part of the American Paccar group, took up truck racing but with little success. High-tech circuit racing has never fitted DAF. Both DAF cars and DAF trucks always have been sturdy no-nonsense vehicles, though and fit for their job. A kind of a "roll up your sleeves and get on with it" character. Fancy circuit racing just doesn't match with that.

This concludes the DAF cars tour. For more information about DAF cars you can visit the Dutch DAF club homepage.

Finish the tour by clicking the arrows pointing right....

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