DAF 55/66 Marathon
Better known today as a maker of heavy trucks rather than lightweight passengers cars, Dutch vehicle producer DAF launched its first car in 1958 (the 600), a small family saloon equipped with an innovative ‘Variomatic’ CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission) automatic gearbox.
In 1966 DAF introduced its second, larger model, the 44, with the more powerful 55 added one year later, fitted with a 1.1-litre Renault-sourced engine. The 55 soon proved to be capable in competition, an example winning the 1968 Alpine Rally. That same year, Rob Slotemaker finished 17th out of 100 contestants in the grueling 10,000-mile-plus (16,500km) London-Sydney Marathon rally.
Inspired by the success of its small 55 in the London-Sydney Marathon, DAF introduced a 'Marathon' pack dealer-fit option with alloy wheels, uprated suspension and parts to upgrade the engine to 65PS. In 1971 DAF introduced this pack as a new factory-built model derivative (the 63PS 55 Marathon) with wider steel wheels, exterior striping and a brake servo, available as a saloon or a coupe.
In late 1972 the DAF 55 Marathon was replaced by the new 66 model, sharing much of the 55’s bodywork from the A-pillar backwards, and with a 1300 Marathon 66 sporting derivative added in 1973. In late 1975 the DAF-branded 66 morphed into a Volvo when the Swedish firm took over DAF’s car operations, although Volvo resisted the opportunity to rebrand the Marathon as ‘Snickers’!
If you fancy a laugh, you need to watch DAF reverse racing immediately…