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DAF FOREVER 1 jaar 1 maand geleden #10481

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Automaker DAF was best known for the Variomatic CVT
APRIL 25, 2019

Visitors from Holland would probably be stunned to discover that a museum and research center devoted to the Dutch automaker DAF (or van Doorne Automobiel Fabriek) exists in the U.S., hidden in the Vermont countryside at the base of Green Mountain National Forest. But the small town of Mount Tabor, Vermont, is the place over a dozen rare automobiles from half a world away call home.

That’s where you’ll find John de Bruin, director of the DAF Club of America and keeper of all things Variomatic.

Provided you’ve heard of DAF, you probably know it for two things: its Variomatic continuously variable transmission, a version of which is used today by several automakers, and that it was eventually absorbed by Volvo. These factoids are perhaps cliches in DAF circles, and they are often joined by one more bit of trivia: DAF cars can be driven as fast backward as forward.

So how did a DAF museum and research center end up here?

“I grew up with them. My grandfather bought the first car directly from the factory in Holland, back when I was 4 years old,” de Bruin says. “He took the train down to the factory and drove the car home with him—that was back in ’59. ... Next thing you know, everybody in the family was buying them.”

De Bruin’s move to the U.S. at a young age happened to coincide with a brief period in time during which DAF cars were sold here, from 1960 until 1967, so his father bought one in the States as well. This was a time when import dealerships offered a dizzying variety of small foreign cars, including a new automaker from Holland eager to gain a foothold in America with a curious new transmission technology. “Shift to DAF—you’ll never shift again!” the print ads of the time promised, along with up to 48 mpg. It helped that DAF was one of just a few small cars to offer an automatic transmission of any sort.

Finding traces of DAF dealerships can be tough—the cars just weren’t around in the U.S. long enough—but the automaker enjoyed some success, mostly on the import-friendly coasts.

“There were around 29 dealerships on the East Coast alone, basically from Massachusetts all the way down to Florida,” de Bruin says. “Gig Motors in Hartford, Connecticut—that was the big one—and Gig had two locations: East Hartford and Hartford.”

Small cars with automatic transmissions and terrific gas mileage sounded like a winning formula for coastal cities, awash in other small foreign cars like NSUs, Fiats, Simcas, Skodas, Datsuns, Renaults and Peugeots.

What ended DAF’s stateside experiment? Curiously enough, it was the lack of a park setting.

“The government didn’t like the Variomatic transmission,” de Bruin says.” The older cars have drive, neutral and reverse, and that’s it. So it had to be started in gear, and the government didn’t like that, so they banned basically any car with a Variomatic transmission.”

That was the end of DAF in the U.S., even though the automaker added a park setting later on. But it wasn’t the end of DAF elsewhere in Europe. The Dutch company was more known for its heavy trucks (and still is today), while its passenger car business was eventually acquired by Volvo.

“The DAF Museum and Research Center has over a dozen cars at any given time (just about every DAF model except for a Paris-Dakar truck), and a number of them are the only examples of a particular model in North America. It doesn’t take long to stumble on one inside the center.

“This is the Type 1. This one here is the only one in the U.S.,” de Bruin tells us as we approach a two-door sedan with faded orange paint. “The only reason it came here was that a serviceman was stationed in Germany; he bought the car, he loved it and he brought it back to Connecticut with him.”

De Bruin is constantly in a state of sourcing, preserving and restoring DAFs, and as the club approaches its 35th anniversary next year, enthusiasts are rediscovering these rare cars—and not just because CVT technology has enjoyed a comeback in new automobiles.

As we sift through dealership brochures in the center’s library, it dawns on me that U.S. dealers didn’t quite advertise the most famous bit of DAF trivia.

“Is it true that you can drive these backward as fast as forward?” I ask de Bruin.

“You sure can!”

The article “DAF Forever” originally appeared in the 5/6/2019 issue of Autoweek.
JAY RAMEY - Jay Ramey is an Associate Editor with Autoweek, and has been with the magazine since 2013. Jay also likes to kayak and bike.
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DAF FOREVER 1 jaar 1 maand geleden #10483

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DAF FOREVER 1 jaar 4 weken geleden #10485

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Leuk artikel , maar er staan nogal wat foutjes in.

Oa. deze
The government didn’t like the Variomatic transmission,” de Bruin says.” The older cars have drive, neutral and reverse, and that’s it. So it had to be started in gear, and the government didn’t like that, so they banned basically any car with a Variomatic transmission.”

Automaten moeten in de USA een P hebben, en dat staat omschreven als park gear, dus geen pin door de koppelingstrommel zoals Daf ooit bedacht had. Een andere veiligheideis waren de botsproeven, dat was voor Daf veel te duur voor het gering aantal auto's.
Ook de pendelas constructie was niet meer toegestaan.
Later wilde Daf/Volvo het nog een keer proberen met de 66. De 55, kreeg een versneld ingevoerde achteras constructie, de Dion as, werd 66, en later de V66, een echt P, conform de Amerikaanse eis van park gear.
Rob Koch reed ooit een V66 van Volvo of America in NJ, langs verschillende Volvo dealers naar LA. De 66 voldeed wel aan de Amerikaanse eisen maar Volvo America zag er niets in.

Hetzelfde verhaal met de V340 en V480, waren allemaal getest in NJ, maar de inporteur zag er niks in. Volgens Bob Austin de toenmalige pr man van Volvo of Amerika die ik ooit bezocht heb.
mstapper MSE Waalre
Laatst bewerkt: 1 jaar 4 weken geleden door M. Stapper.
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