Despite innovations like the worlds first four wheel drive car, a 60 hp Spyker, with a single engine the Dutch motor industry failed to really take off prior to the Second World War.
Prior to the war Hubert Van Doorne founded a trailer manufacturing business with finance from a brewery in 1932 Van Doorne’s Aanhangen Fabriek that was abbreviated to DAF.
In the early 1950’s after the reestablishment of DAF, now as a manufacturer of military and commercial vehicles and trailers the company became Van Doorne’s Autombiel Fabriek and Hub van Doorne set about designing a passenger vehicle.
Allegedly impressed by the Dyna Flow automatic transmission in his Buick Roadmaster, but unimpressed with it’s inefficiency Hub developed his own belt driven vacuum controlled continuously variable transmission CVT operating with centrifugal clutch, getting inspiration from the belt driven machines operating in his factory.
In 1958 the 22 hp DAF 600 with variomatic transmission was demonstrated and became the second commercially available motor car CVT, after the British Clyno system which was available from 1923 to 1927.
With additional design work attributed to Johan van der Brugghen the DAF 600 was manufactured from 1959 to 1963. Harry Walton in the December 1959 edition of Popular Science applauded the DAF 600 for it’s fully automatic drive, and positive differential action, which meant the car was unlikely to get stuck in mud, sand or snow because if one wheel slipped additional drive would automatically be transferred to the other wheel.
Harry also noted that the 600 although standing on only 12 inch wheels it had seven inches of ground clearance making it as “goat nimble on rough roads as the mourned Model T”. One thing Harry did not notice, or try as I once inadvertently did on a far more recent CVT equipped vehicle, is that it will go as fast backwards as it does forwards, all of 57 mph in the case of the DAF 600 Luxe.
Thanks for joining me on this “Goat Nimble Variomatic” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a 1965 Studebaker which made an early appearance at Indianapolis. Don’t forget to come back now.