Launched in 1967, the Daf 33 was an uprated and lightly facelifted version of the earlier Daf Daffodil. The name change brought the model into line with Daf’s larger 44 model. The flat twin and Variomatic box gave them a unique driving experience and loyal following, though mechanics scared of changed would dismiss the Variomatic system as overly complex. The 33 was discontinued when Volvo bought DAF in 1974, while the larger 66 was rebranded as a Volvo. Nowadays they make a great compact and economical classic buy.
Engine 746cc, 2-cyl, OHV
Power 28bhp @ 4200rpm
Torque 40lb ft @ 2700rpm
Top speed 69mph
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The bodywork’s made of quite a heavy-gauge steel, so they’re fairly rust resistant for a 60s design. One owner we spoke to had only encountered significant corrosion on one 33, and that had been sitting in a field for several decades! The floorpans can corrode through if water’s allowed to pool in them, while it’s good practice on any classic to check the lower extremities of the shell for scabs. So wheelarches, door bottoms and door tops, lower wings and valances should all be on your checklist. The leading edge of the bonnet can pick up chips and rot, and the lower screen surround is a water trap which needs to be handled with care. Beware wings are welded on and scarce secondhand, so repairs must be made in situ. Suspension mounting points and A-posts are crucial checks too on 33s, as they’re the two biggest troublespots.
ENGINE & GEARBOX
The engine and Variomatic transmission are both largely reliable in service, with the engine singled out for particular praise. There are no gaskets to worry about, an alloy head and block ensure adequate sealing between all faces without the need for gaskets, so you don’t need to check if they’re intact. The pushrod tubes can leak oil, and on very high mileage cars the bores can wear. The sign of this is an oily engine bay – oil’s forced out when the bore wear is sufficient to pressurize the crankcase. But they burn efficiently and worn units are few and far between.
Watch for corrosion on the working faces of the Variomatic cones – slight corrosion can cause belt wear, while more serious corrosion will necessitate replacement of the units. Some have tried repairs with chemical metal to ying degrees of success, so this may be an option if new units cannot be found. As for the belts themselves, they can deform and harden over time, and if there’s no recent belt history with the car you’ll need to budget about £105 for their replacement. Even new belts can stretch, so take it as a given that you’ll need to adjust the belts of any DAF you purchase. Because of how Variomatic works, there’s no differential to worry about either.
Right hand drive specific parts might be tricky to source, because while the UK was a large export market there are very few left. However, Essex Dafs have broken numerous rhd Dafs which have been too far gone to save, and so secondhand parts are generally available. Interiors do tend to be hard wearing, and being fairly plain vinyl affairs retrimming old seats shouldn’t pose an issue.
The big one is the heater. The heater is powered by a brace of heat exchangers around the front exhaust downpipes, and when these pipes corrode they can supply exhaust gases including carbon monoxide direct to the cabin. If the car has an exhaust blow from this area, the only options are repair or replacement and repair involves stripping the heat extractors. Replacements are not cheap! Barring this, the electrical systems in Daf 33s are simple and reliable; you should have no troubles here.
A small cheap classic, ideal for town toddling or for those classic fans at a space premium, the Daf 33 makes for a fantastic alternative to a Mini. A tiny car designed for the tall Dutch, it’ll take four adults and their luggage in comfort. The thrill of accelerating with no change in engine pitch will never get old either. Near perfect weight distribution means they also handle rather tidily, and you’ll always draw the crowds when you stop!