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Dutch glory. The DAF 55.

DAF 55
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During the final agreement of 1967, DAF introduced its first passenger car with a water-cooled four-cylinder engine. A year earlier, the DAF 44 was launched, with a new carriage designed by Michelotti. The bodywork also became the base for the new 55, which saw the light of day in December 1967.


The DAF 44 was the cosmetic starting point for the 55. Naturally, the new DAF also received the unparalleled Variomatic transmission. Yet the 55 was technically a different car compared to the smaller brother. For example, the DAF 55 was fitted with a separate brake circuit and - at the front - disc brakes. The 55 also received a modified chassis and the engine compartment was enlarged. DAF decided to mount the water-cooled 1108 cc Cleon Fonte engine from Renault in the front. This created the need for the installation of a radiator. Because of their placement, the people of Eindhoven also constructed extra openings at the front, of course for cooling purposes.

Appointments with Renault

DAF also acquired the right to start building the power source - for which the Eindhoven group concluded a supply contract for 40.000 units with Renault - in-house. There were underlying reasons for choosing the Renault engine. The engine was tested, the DAF program was in full development and the construction of the factory in Born received a lot of attention during the development of the DAF 55.

The coupe and the combi

The 55 also distinguished itself at the rear. DAF mounted elongated rear lights there. The high-quality interior was decorated with, among other things, a set of instruments consisting of two clocks. The DAF 55 debuted as a sedan, and was soon to welcome the beautifully styled coupé as a family member. Technically, the sedan and the coupé version did not differ, but the two model variants could not be denied their own character. In addition, the coupe had a slightly more luxurious level of equipment. The DAF 55 Combi followed after the coupé, which added value to the DAF range in practical terms and was praised for its attractive lines.

London-Sydney

In the meantime, the DAF competition division had appreciated the potential of the 55 as a rally and marketing instrument, not least because of the barrier effect of the Variomatic. The fresh 55 was entered for the London-Sydney Marathon. The DAF rally division, led by Rob Koch, professionally delegated two teams for the 16.500 kilometer-long monster rally. The Slotemaker-Janssen duo achieved an 17e place in the final ranking. That was the highest ranking in the class under 1600 cc. The duo David van Lennep (the brother of living legend Gijs) / Peter Hissink also completed the race and seized the 56e place.

From rally racing kit to top version: the Marathon is coming

The DAF 55 had proven itself to be a rally worthy, and to reinforce its success, DAF developed a special Marathon kit for the 55. It consisted of special STIL rims, an adjusted engine and chassis tuning, a tachometer and a special exhaust. The DAF 55 gained more power in this design. Furthermore, the racing kits ultimately inspired the Eindhoven marketers to add the “Marathon” version to the delivery range in 1971.

Stronger engine

The new top version of the DAF 55 was fitted with the BR 110 engine with high compression (10: 1), and thus generated 55 DIN PK compared to the 44 DIN PK produced by the regular versions. Outwardly, the centrally located sports exhaust, the striping on the flanks, the Marathon badges and the black wheel covers in combination with 13 ″ wheels stood out. Inside, the finish (including beautiful carpet) was excellent and the front occupants took a seat in sporty profiled seats. The Marathon also received power brakes.

More rally successes

In the meantime, the DAF 55 had stood its ground in various tough rallies. The Coupe des Alpes and the East African Safari rally were just a few of these trials. And in the Monte Carlo Rally of 1970, DAF even managed to claim the first two places in the 1150 cc class, an achievement of considerable size. Especially the Laurent / Marché duo was loyal to the DAF during rallies and it was regularly successful. Worth mentioning is the DAF 555, which was developed on the basis of the 55 coupé and was fitted with heavier Renault engines and an F3 transmission.

Minor changes

The regular DAF 55 models were changed slightly during the production period, which lasted from 1967 to 1972. The 55 got its second generation in 1969, but the differences were limited to detail. Among other things, the grille and the logos were adjusted. In addition, the coupe in 1971 got window frames at the door windows.

Beauty. The Siluro

An exclusive variant of the DAF 55 was the Siluro. The prototype designed by Giovanni Michelotti on the basis of the coupé was produced once. The Siluro experienced its baptism of fire at the Geneva Salon of 1968. It was one of the first cars with a wedge shape and above all: exceptionally beautiful design. Today he can be admired in the DAF museum in Eindhoven.

Dutch ingenuity. Dutch versatile

The 1972 lasted until 55. He was replaced by the DAF 153.263 after a total of 66 built copies. It was planed at the latest. The constructive 66 meant a step forward. Nevertheless, the DAF 55 - certainly thanks to the many impressive racing performances - can be seen as a valuable exponent of Dutch automobile construction. Because in all circumstances the 55 showed how ingenuity and reliability could lead to appealing results.

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4 Comments

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  1. Hi, please make a correction. The wind noise and the leakage were present with the 1e type. The pane turned upwards pressed against rubbers at the top, but due to the driving speed the pane is sucked out a little. This creates wind noise and an opening for incoming water.
    With the 2e type, the window frames were made in such a way that not the window, but the window frame pressed against the rubber. This ended everything better.
    Even with the 66, the window and the window frame were adjusted later. The earlier models did not have a small triangular diamond and a vertical window guide. From my own experience I know that a window without that conductor above the 80 km / h from the bottom down will not close up anymore due to the suction of the wind.

  2. The 55 coupé did not get a b-pillar but window frames around the porter windows. The original coupé did not have this. This made the car more elegant, especially when the doors with windows turned down were opened. But this elegance had its price in the form of wind noise and leaks.

    Nice article, I have an 55 sedan from 1972 in original condition.

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