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Daf 55 and 66

Published: 15th Jul 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Facts

  • Engine: 1289cc/4-cyl
  • Power (bhp/rpm): 57/5200
  • Torque (lb ft@rpm): 69/3600
  • Top speed: 84mph
  • 0-60mph: 19.4sec
  • Fuel consumption: 35mpg
  • Transmission: Continuously variable auto
  • Length: 12ft 9in (3.8m)
  • Width (inc mirrors): 5ft 1in (1.54m)
  • Weight: 1851lb (840kg)
  • Books: Daf cars, the Dutch motor car by Paul Nieuwenhuis.
    ISBN 978-1-900482-59-2
  • Clubs: http://www.dafmuseum.nl (Dutch)
  • Websites: Daf Owners’ Club: http://www.dafownersclub.co.uk
    DAF Hobby, http://www.dafhobby.nl
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Many people buy a classic car because they want to be an individual, but if you opt for a Triumph or MG, just how different are you going to be? While these mainstream marques are brilliantly supported, many old car fans want something a bit more leftfi eld – and you don’t get much more left-fi eld than a Daf. Quirky but utterly usable, Dafs are as practical as they come, while also being unfeasibly affordable to buy as well as to run. Renowned for its ease of driving thanks to its Variomatic automatic transmission, the Daf makes perfect sense for those who aren’t in a hurry.

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What to look for

Frilly bodywork is the reason for many Dafs biting the dust; low values lead would-be restorers to look elsewhere. All of the lower body sections need checking, especially the fl oorpans, chassis members and sills. If the latter rots, the car’s structural integrity is compromised, with replacement panels hard to find.

The 55 and 66 feature wet-linered water-cooled Renault engines in 1108cc or 1289cc flavours. Tough and simple units, there aren’t any weak spots as such; just make the usual checks for wear. The Variomatic transmission is ingenious for its effectiveness as well as its simplicity and durability. Easy to inspect and maintain, it uses a vacuum system and centrifugal weights to operate; failure to work properly is likely to be down to failed pipes or diaphragms, which are easily fi xed. Cars left standing for ages are likely to be suffering from deformed belts which will result in noisy changes; replacements are available from the club, which can also supply a raft of other bits and pieces to keep these cars going. One thing it can’t supply is interior or exterior trim, which is now very hard to fi nd. Volvo models are especially badly catered for, so anything you buy really needs to be complete or you may struggle to source any missing bits.

Values

While there’s no difference in values between 55, 66 and Volvo models, the earlier the car, the more desirable it is. The mad thing is that you can spend more on a decent night out than on a working Daf. An as-new car popped up recently with just 12,000 miles on the clock, priced at all of £3000, while roadworthy saloons can be bought from just £250. There aren’t many estates about now; you’ll pay from £850 for anything worthwhile. Most sought after are the coupés, especially in Marathon form – but even these aren’t valuable. A really nice one – if you can find one that is – costs no more than £2000.

Driving one

Until the revival of CVT-equipped moderns in the 1990s, for decades the Daf driving experience was unique. The USP was its belt-driven transmission; all Dafs came with this automatic gearbox as standard, with no manual option. But it’s no conventional auto; as a stepless system it’s smoother and more effi cient as there’s no torque converter, while the gears are infi nitely variable. With a choice of 1.1 or 1.3-litre engines you can select between frugal or not quite so frugal – what you can’t have is rapid, although the bigger engine will give a top speed of just over 80mph.

If that sort of performance doesn’t float your boat, you could always buy a Daf simply because it can go just as quickly in reverse as it can when going forwards. How many other classics can do that? Handling, thanks to the De Dion rear end, is surprisingly good.

Evolution

9/68:

The 55 arrives in the UK with an 1108cc Renault engine and Variomatic gearbox, in saloon, coupé or estate forms.

5/71:

The 55 Marathon saloon appears, with more power, servo brakes and upgraded suspension.

9/71:

The 55 Marathon coupé debuts.

9/72:

The 66 supersedes the 55, with De Dion rear suspension and a restyled nose. There are L, SL and Marathon trims, with saloon, coupé or estate body styles.

1/73:

The L trim is now available to special order only.

10/73:

There’s now a 1289cc engine option.

9/74:

The coupé and Marathon are discontinued in 1100 form.

9/75:

The 66 now carries Volvo badges and gets larger bumpers plus a modified transmission.



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