Visiting Eindhoven, The Netherlands and its DAF museum: commemorating automobile and engineering heritage
Dutch developers of the variomatic belt drive
This museum, displaying the history and achievements of the Dutch DAF company, is a most fascinating location, and makes for a exceptionally worthwhile visit at Tongelresestraat 27, in Eindhoven.
DAF automobiles and trucks
Following World War Two, a number of European automobile manufacturers developed the market for small, economical family automobiles. These included Germany's Volkswagen, Italy's FIAT, France's Citroen and Renault, and England's Morris Motors. The Dutch DAF company was no exception. DAF is probably most well known for the small automobile which it developed in the 1950s, known as the 600, first announced in 1957, and on the market by 1959.
The DAF 600 was succeeded by various developments: the DAF 33, 44, 55 & 66. In 1975, the automobile division of DAF was taken over by Volvo of Sweden, and the DAF 66 was remodelled as the Volvo 66. The museum has a large selection of the DAF automobiles on display, and one can see how the lines of the early models were streamlined and improved over the years.
DAF's first truck version was the A30 of 1949 and in subsequent years and decades DAF trucks in a variety of designs have been built and widely sold.
DAF also built armoured cars, used by the military of various countries. The DAF YP-408 was first developed in the 1950s and some were still in use in the early 21st century.
Variomatic belt drive
A special feature of DAF automobiles was the variomatic belt drive, which was used instead of gears. This meant that in theory the DAF could accelerate and drive backwards as fast as it could forwards, but it proved to be a successful feature, which was later adopted by versions of the Volvo 343, after Volvo of Sweden took over the company in the 1970s. Although a variety of the continuously variable transmission had been used in the 1920s in England in automobiles of the Clyno Company, this undertaking went bankrupt in 1929 and it was DAF which built up the manufacture of automobiles using the variomatic belt drive from the 1950s onwards.
The van Doorne brothers
Hub and Wim van Doorne were two brothers who built up the company, after Hub van Doorne originally founded a company in 1928, with the initial assistance of a local investor. The letters DAF stand for Van Doorne's Automobiel Fabriek (Van Doorne's Automobile Factory), which commenced the manufacture of trucks, trailers and buses in 1949.
Visiting the museum
The museum offers a detailed overview of the development of the DAF company and its manufacturing and marketing achievements. Its spacious display areas are complemented by a cinema showing historical material, and a gift shop.
Some museums would simply be described as of interest. This museum is truly of such invigorating fascination, that I can understand automobile and transportation buffs within easy reach of Eindhoven going back to visit this facility again and again.
Also worth seeing
Eindhoven has a number of large churches of architectural distinction, and the usual amenities of any big city.
Best (distance: 12 kilometres); 'De Platijn' clog museum , at Broekdijk 12, displays a large family collection of this typically Dutch item of footwear, plus an old clog-making machine. Situated between Best and Son is situated the Bevrijdende Vleugels (Liberating Wings) museum, which details the activities of the 101st Airborne Division, Operation Market Garden, and other World War 2 events. Best's Hoofdstraat district has some buildings of particular architectural distinction.
How to get there: Airlines flying to Amsterdam Airport from New York include Delta Airlines and KLM. For North American travellers making the London, England area their base, Eindhoven Airport is served by Ryanair from London Stansted Airport, by VLM from London City Airport, and by Aer Lingus from London Gatwick Airport. The Dutch railroad company NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) maintains rail services from Amsterdam to Eindhoven. There is car rental availability at Amsterdam and Eindhoven airports. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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