The history of the Daf Motor Company history got underway in the early Thirties when Hubert Jozef van Doorne decided to expand his Eindhoven, Holland-based engineering firm into producing light vans and trucks.
Hubert understood his abilities as an engineer far outweighed his business skills and made the smart move of inviting his brother Wim to join the company to take care of administration and sales.
The van Hoorne brother’s timing could have been better, as just as the truck manufacturing division had barely gotten underway when World War II broke out, meaning that production was switched to military vehicles.
In the immediate post-war years, DAF continued their efforts to conquer the commercial truck market in Holland and would likely have remained focused on that sector until Hubert van Doorne unveiled what would prove to be an industry-changing invention, the infinitely-variable, belt-driven automatic transmission, soon to be called Variomatic.
Before its unveiling DAF carried out rigorous tests of the device included treks across deserts and hauling of trailers up mountainsides.
Power from the engine reached the rear wheels via a centrifugal clutch and two pairs of variable-diameter pulleys, each operated by a V-belt. A combination of engine vacuum and centrifugal weights determined the working diameter of the drive pulleys.
Independent suspension at all four wheels also put the DAF a step ahead of many cars of its era. So did the elimination of the need for chassis lubrication, and the use of rack-and-pinion steering.
Early in 1958, the first version of the prototype family saloon DAF 600 appeared at the Amsterdam auto show, with production getting underway in the spring of the following year.
Large enough to hold four grownups and a youngster (or so the company claimed), the initial DAF model was promoted as the "first family car to combine classic European beauty and craftsmanship with fully automatic driving at no extra cost."
Not every observer would call the car beautiful. or "sculptured," but it was distinctive. Most notable was the front view, as the hood sloped downward sharply at the front, so its leading edge was about at the level of the bottom of the headlamps.
A'DAF' script was mounted in the centre of the hood.
Farther down was a horizontal grille with angled upper corners and a very tight crosshatch mesh pattern.
An air-cooled. flat two-cylinder engine mounted in the front delivered 22 horsepower. Aluminium cylinders held steel sleeve inserts.
A central chassis backbone held a front leaf spring at the forward end and a fork for coil springs at the rear. Standard equipment included a heater, defroster, directional signals, safety-type steering wheel and sun visors.
By 1971, Hub van Doorne had begun to develop yet another transmission, this one fully automatic.
In 1975, the company was taken over by Volvo and DAF, Holland only ever independant car manufacturer, was quickly swallowed up without a trace.