Let’s Go Racing, Dutch Style: 1969 DAF 55

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We met the DAF a few articles back when we discovered that Michelotti crafted his first beach car – called the Shellette – from a Daffodil. But here is a more purposeful example listed on facebook Marketplace – this one is a 1969 DAF 55 race car, complete with a roll cage, fuel cell, and fire suppression system. The asking price is $4950, and the car can be transported to its new garage from Escondido, California. Mitchell G. found this oddball for us – thanks! DAF was founded in the Netherlands in 1928 as a repair shop. By 1949, it was making trucks and buses. As a byproduct of its truck business, it began developing a continuously variable transmission that uses belts to transfer power seamlessly to the wheels using tension. In this way, DAF could offer a quasi-automatic without the expense of that still-unreliable technology. The logical application for its Variomatic transmission was a car, leading to the DAF 600, its first four-seat sedan, launched in 1959.  Several new models followed the 600, and eventually, DAF licensed its CVT to Volvo, who truly popularized the technology.

The seller has owned his DAF for over sixteen years and seems utterly familiar with its features. This little engine should be a Renault 1108 cc Cléon-Fonte four-cylinder, good for about 50 hp – a departure from the prior model’s two-stroke. While the DAF 55 isn’t the fastest thing on wheels, it’s handy on the rally circuit since the transmission mimics a limited-slip differential. The seller indicates that the car runs and drives, and it comes with the factory interior, gas tank – even a spare engine. For more power, step up to a Renault 1300, or just switch to reverse-gear racing and master the art of steering backward with what you got…..


The roll cage can be cut out of the car, but installing that apparatus is a lot of work, so I’d be tempted to leave it as is. The giant clock is handy for rally pursuits. The dash is simple, made more so via alterations to accommodate racing.

The underside reveals the workings of the Variomatic with its two belts driving barrel-shaped pulleys. Owners say that pantyhose is a reasonable substitute if a belt breaks – suitable for a few miles. More durable help is available here, or if you have a Dutch buddy, here. This little orphan is tempting with its clean, Michelotti-designed lines. Recent sales show these cars should sell in the mid-four-figures for a decent example. Would you keep this DAF’s race kit intact or return it to stock?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Car Nut Tacoma

    I’ve heard of the DAF. I’ve never seen one first hand. Just the name makes me laugh. “Don’t be Daf!”

    Like 1
  2. Bob WashburneMember

    Return it stock.

    I haven’t seen one of these since I moved from Switzerland in 1975. I always liked their lines. Like an Austin Maxi without the British Leyland.

    The giant rubber bands would be the talk of the show.

    Like 1
  3. Martin Horrocks

    It would be intriguing to know why this happened! However, this “race car” doesn’t convince.

    DAF 55 had a good rally history but did little on the circuits. The Dutch Van der Rooy brothers built a couple of winning Ford BDA- engined 4WD rallycross cars, and there was a similar V8 powered race car in the UK in the 70s which worked well ( though without using anythin DAF other than the shell).

    My neighbour has a lovely Volvo-badged version, ideal for the narrow streets of the European hilltown we call home. It’s sweet and comfortable, but slow.

    Like 2
    • RallyeMember

      Is that a Volvo 340?
      Does the Volvo use the same belt setup?
      I think. I have a couple of sets of Vanderval main bearings for that Volvo motor. Came with some other Volvo bearings.

      Like 0
  4. Beyfon

    Earlier DAF had air-cooled 2-cylinder engines, but they were most decidedly not 2-stroke. At one time I built one engine out of 4 or 5. It was a pretty bad design and they all had different issues despite none of them had done that much mileage. I’d say some 50k miles was probably the most you could expect one of those engines to last.
    Another correction is that Volvo didn’t license the Variomatic technology, they bought all of DAF. After the purchase they re-branded the Daf 66 as Volvo 66 for 1976 and the following year a larger DAF design as the dreadful Volvo 343.
    A bit of an inconvenience with these DAF – both the DAF engined ones and the Renault engined variants – was that they were never all that easy to start in the winter. You needed full choke and a lot of turns on the starter and once it started you needed to rev it to keep it running. Problem is just that there’s a centrifugal clutch that disconnects the gears that make it go forward or reverse so you essentially had two options; either you started it in gear where it would lurch forward (or backwards) once the engine sprang to life or you started it in neutral (which was the proper thing to do) but then you had to sit running the engine until it had warmed enough that you could push the choke knob in, pray that the engine would idle and wouldn’t stall while you rapidly put it in gear before hitting the throttle. I had a Kalmar KVD and a DAF 66 1300 Marathon Wagon and they were both equally annoying. For sure two of the worst cars I have ever owned and with my track record that says quite a lot.

    Like 0
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      Thanks for expanding on the DAF – great info.

      I wanted to like the little guy, but most former owners had similar complaints to yours.

      Like 0
      • Ed Varioraket

        There are no unreliable DAF’s, just unskilled mechanics.

        Like 1

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