Van Doornes Automobielfabriek NV, Eindhoven, The Netherlands 1958-1977

In 1977 DAF was taken over by Volvo, who continued production under their own name.

DAF Variomatic Transmision

The feature that made DAF famous (and popular) was the infinitely variable automatic transmission. This was in a time that automatic transmission was practically unheared of in Europe, and largely regarded as an inferior gadget only Americans liked. All this changed thanks to the clever invention of the Van Doorne brothers. Instead of a gearbox, the system used rubber belts on spring-loaded pulleys at the rear of the car. The pulleys were v-shaped and were adjustable in width. By pulling the front pulleys apart and squeezing the rear ones together, you got a ratio for starting off in (like 1st gear). It was similar in a way to the way a bicycle derailler gears work: small cog at the front and large at the back = 1st gear. The pulleys were operated by vacuum from the inlet manifold: the further you depressed the accelerator the less vacuum there was and the springs forced the rear pulleys together. The closer together the two halves were, the lower the gear. The only controls the driver had were ‘forward’ and ‘reverse’. Easy!. After DAF were taken over by Volvo, the Van Doorne brothers retained ownership of their Variomatic invention and developed it further into the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) we know today.