DAF CARS: THE 66 MODEL
The DAF 55 Marathon
was succeeded by the 66 Marathon in 1972 which had the same engine and performance as the
old car, but offered the new rear wheel suspension. It still wasn't very successful and
after building 14,382 Marathons DAF again replaced it, now by the 66 1300 Marathon in
1973. The trusty Renault four cylinder engine had been enlarged to 1289 cc and produced 57
hp @ 5200 rpm as opposed to the 63 hp @ 5600 rpm of the original version. So as the engine
got bigger, power went down. Advantages of the new engine were better torque and less
engine noise. The performance remained about the same. This Marathon fared a bit better
than its predecessors, being produced from 1973 to 1975 in a total of 23,074 cars. In 1975
it was replaced by the Volvo 66 1300, basically the same car without the Marathon name and
manufactured up to 1980, totaling 42,515 cars.
The photos show a 1974 DAF 66 1300 Marathon.
The DAF 66 was available
as Sedan, Coupé, stationcar and commercial van. After Volvo took over the production, it
dropped the Coupé and commercial van versions. The Marathon versions were available as
Sedan and Coupé and the DAF 66 1300 Marathon even as a station car.
A special and rare version of the DAF 66 is this 66 YA model. Here seen in
civilian guise, but it originally was a military vehicle.
The Dutch army asked DAF in the early seventies to develop a cheap alternative to its usual Jeeps. The Jeeps were very useful, but also expensive to buy and to maintain. And the army concluded that they were most often used for normal road duties that didn't demand any terrain abilities. So to stop squandering money on all-terrain vehicles in military units that didn't need them, they decided to replace them by cheaper two wheel drive cars.
After a period of testing the DAF 66 YA was introduced in the Dutch army in
1974. It was designated a light truck 0.4 ton 4 x 2. Unfortunately it wasn't a big
success. It had the same mechanics as the normal 66, but was heavier (860 kg instead of
820 kg) and had a more sturdy Variomatic transmission. Even so this transmission proved to
be the weak spot of the car.
The soldiers in the Dutch army, largely made up of conscripts, lived up to their reputation of wrecking everything they laid their hands on, and the belts in the Variomatic transmission were the first to go in the DAF 66 YA. The army chiefs didn't like the idea of a whole fleet of 66 YAs stranded by belt-failures each week and called off the orders.
This way only 1201 DAF 66 YAs were built, all in 1974. Most of these cars were sold to civilians by the Dutch army after a few years of service. These civilians painted the originally mat dark green bodywork in an appealing bright color, fitted some additional creature comforts like better seats and created by doing so a kind of a leisure car like the one shown here.
In 1976 Volvo introduced the 343 model, shown in the drawings below. This
was actually the DAF 77, a car DAF had been working on before the take-over by Volvo and
the main reason for Volvo to acquire a major share in DAF. For DAF it would have been the
next step, the 77 would have been bigger and better than all DAFs before and a real
midrange model. To Volvo it was the desired compact car to complement their range of big
bulky luxury cars. Although this model and its derivatives were produced up to 1990, it
never was a big seller. Nor was its larger successor, the 440/460 range. Only after the
introduction of the S40/V40 series Volvo has started to make a name for itself in
the "small" car market.
The former DAF car factory in Born came under new management and continued as Nedcar. Up to this day it produces small and mid-sized cars for a variety of manufacturers (like Volvo, Mitsubishi and Smart).
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