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In 1928, two brothers, Hubert and Wim Van Doorne started a small mechanical workshop producing windows frames, ladders and metal cabinets in Eindhoven, in the southern part of the Netherlands. In 1930 the Van Doorne Trailer Company was founded, and a range of trailers and semi-trailers were launched. D.A.F. is the abbreviation for Van Doorne's Trailerfactory in Dutch. In 1936 they started making military armed vehicles for the Dutch army. This lead to the production of large commercial trucks.
Another interesting product was the "TRADO-drive" - a sort of conversion kit which converted a commercial 4 x 2 truck into a 6 x 4 truck. This drive was invented in conjunction with Colonel Van der Trappen in 1936 with a world war building up, and not sufficient funding to purchase the necessary all-wheel drive trucks for the Dutch armed forces.
During the second world war the Germans took over control of the factory, but new tools to production of trailers was invented in secrecy.
DAF Trucks started production at Eindhoven in September 1949 with the model A-30 which was build in small numbers. The first trucks were assembled from parts from other manufacturers: engines came from Hercules (petrol) or Perkins (diesel), axles from Timken and gearboxes from Fuller.
Production figures in 1951 was approx. 21 vehicles a week.
When the DAF factory received a huge order from the Dutch government to built military vehicles in 1952, accompanied by sufficient funding from the Marshall plan, business picked up. DAF built a new factory just for truck production which opened in 1953. Some 1.100 workers was employed at the time.
Engines from
Leyland was made under license until 1957 when a DAF developed engine was introduced.
The small small DAF 600 Variomatic was introduced in 1958, and production continued until 1974 when rights and factory was sold to
Volvo, who was in need for a small car.
A plant for production of axles and cabs was opened in Oevel in Belgium in the 1960´s.
A model ahead of it´s time, the F2800, was introduced in 1972. This model used an engine with turbo and inter cooler - a technique other manufactures started to use a decade later. This year the production was around 12.000 units.
A third of the DAF company´s shares was bought by International Harvester Group in 1972.
An agreement about joint development of cabs was signed with Volvo, Saviem and
Magirus-Deutz in 1974. This project was known as "The club of Four". Besides the truck-production DAF had started producing components for aircraft's and helicopters. DAF engines was produced for industrial and maritime purposes.
Same year DAF started delivering cabs for the Hungarian RABA truck factory.
In 1979 production had raised to some 15.000 units and 9.000 workers was employed, of those 700 worked in the development department.
International Harvester Group left the DAF company in 1983, and their shares was taken over by the VADO group and DSM.
A joint venture was established with Spanish ENASA (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones S.A.) regarding cabs, which led to the development of the F95 cab.
In 1987 DAF merged with the British Rover Group, and parts of the production was moved to Great Britain. Production was labelled as Leyland DAF in Great Britain and DAF elsewhere.
The F95 model became "Truck of the year" in 1988.
The company went bankrupt in late 1992, but was reconstructed in 1993 with the Dutch and Belgian Government and Dutch banks as investors. The number of workers was reduced to approx. 4.500, and production was 65 units per day.
A factory for the DAF 85 series was established in Marocco in 1994.
DAF was taken over by
PACCAR Inc., known for production of Kenworth, Peterbilt and Foden, 15th of November 1996.
The DAF 95XF became "Truck of the year" in 1998.
Truck no. 500.000 was produced in summer 1999, exactly 50 years after the introduction of the A-30 model.

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