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DAF CARS: THE 55 MODEL

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In 1967, one year after the 44, the DAF 55 was introduced. It shared the bodywork and the chassis with the 44, but boosted a modern 4 cylinder engine and more luxury. The new water-cooled engine was acquired from Renault, measured 1108 cc and produced 50 hp @ 5000 rpm. Top speed of this 785 kg car was 136 kph and it accelerated from 0 to 80 kph in 12 seconds.
This more powerful engine was quite an achievement for DAF because it took a lot of development work to make the Variomatic transmission suitable to durably handle more power. The Variomatic transmission had always limited DAF in its possibilities. To keep the wear and stress of the belts within tolerable quantities either the amount distributed power had to be relatively small or the belts had to be strengthened. Strengthening the belts proved to be a problem. Stronger and more durable belts weighed more and offered less friction and that caused all kinds of problems within the transmission. These problems at that time could only be solved by expensive measures, making the cars uncompetitively expensive. So only through extensive research and advancements in technology DAF could offer more powerful cars. A pity was that progress was slow, it each time took a long while to get to the next level, condemning DAF to either stay in the small car market or to get another transmission. DAF felt that the Variomatic transmission was their big selling point and was the transmission of the future, so they stuck to it.

The DAF 55 was produced from 1967 to 1972, totaling 153,263 cars. There was also a sporty version of the 55 called the 55 Marathon. The DAF 55 Marathon had a tuned engine that produced 63 hp @ 5600 rpm, mainly achieved by replacing the carburetor by a bigger one and changing the compression ratio in the cylinders from 8.5:1 to 10:1. Top speed was 145 kph and 10,967 of these cars were produced between 1971 an 1972.

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