This is what looks like another transcript from the archives of influential motoring writer, Archie Vicar. In this item he welcomes the new DAF 66, an article entitled originally “Everyone’s favourite Dutch marque“.
This article first appeared in the Ryton-on-Dunsmore Evening Echo, July 1972. Photographs by Douglas Land-Windermere. Due to liquid spillage on the negatives, stock images have been used.
The Daf 66 is here, at long last. As Dutch as a daffodil soaked in Bols, the Daf 66 carries on the traditions of car building for which the people of Holland have been quite well-known since 1959. Simply put, the Daf 66 is a 55 with a new suspension layout, one which opens the possibilities of more powerful models. This will keep Daf “up to speed” in these increasingly competitive times.
In order to inspect the new car, we took ourselves to Eindhoven in the Netherlands, home of DAF. For anyone not familiar with the little land across the Channel, it will surprise you to know it all looks very familiar. For a while I thought I was back in Kent but the staggering number of cyclists indicated that this was not, in fact, the case. Many foreign makes of cars lined the roads too: Peugeot, Renault, Lancia, BMW, Audi and even a fair few Panhards and Autobianchis. So, in this context, it is not so strange to find another foreign car like DAF’s whereas in the United Kingdom, DAF cars are very much a minority taste.
Jan der van der Doorne, DAF´s communications chief, explained the car to us over a special Dutch breakfast of “appeltaart” and pancakes, “bitterballen” “rookwurst”, “stroopwafels”, herring and very milky coffee. Luckily there was also plenty of “Jenever” to wash away the taste of the herring and coffee. Mr der van der Doorne explained that the Daf 66 continues to use the 1108 cc engine of Renault design: it has a wet-liner. The 66 is not much bigger and not any more powerful than the 55. It also looks very similar though the eagle eyed-will spot a revised grille and different headlamps along with a new dashboard that puts many Hillman and Austin cars to shame.
What is new about the car is under the vehicle. DAF have taken a leaf from Rover’s book and have applied the de Dion suspension principle in place of the much-loved swing axles used heretofore. In principle, the de Dion suspension allows better handling at high speeds, for which DAF cars are not perhaps renowned.
The new suspension will make for more secure driving thanks to the clever strategy of locating the transverse tube using two single-leaf semi-elliptic springs. At each end the tubes are hand-welded to an impressive bracket which is secured by bolts to the leaf spring. But what about excessive wind-up during heavy braking? A trailing arm which is secured to the right bracket prevents this effectively. DAF have considered everything (except that there is no way to reinforce the springs laterally). Continuously variable transmission is supplied as standard.
Enough engineering. After an alarming amount of gouda and some more boiled sausages we set off to test the cars. We chose a test route comprised of the famous Jenever cities which, as every nursery child knows, are Hasselt in Belgium, and Groningen, Delft, Schiedam, Amsterdam and back to Delft in the Netherlands. In each town we would try the local versions of Jenever to see how they compared.
They are all very nice and stronger than you might think on first acquaintance. Jenever is not unlike gin, I suppose but less harsh.
I can conclude after that whistle-stop tour and all those samples of Jenever that the Daf 66 is a safe car. As we got back to Groeningen having tried a variety of roads and road conditions and plenty of Jenever, the Daf managed to wrestle free of my control and I landed in a fine bed of spring flowers. I emerged from the car unharmed and can vouch for the higher road-holding capabilities of the Daf. The 66 lost grip at a much higher speed than the 55, so the engineers’ improvement has been demonstrated.
With this new car on the market, the path is now open for DAF to divest its burdensome truck-making enterprise and expand its vehicle range. Who knows, perhaps a Daf 76 and 86 can be added to their range, throwing the gauntlet to makers like Volvo who have rested on their laurels a bit too long!