The DAF44 made its debut in 1966
, and featured an attractive and larger body to previous iterations. The design was penned by Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti, who was able to take the utalitarian and make it rather more pleasing to the eye. (Michelotti had made his name designing the 1959 Triumph Herald
, and many other Triumph's up to the 1970's).
It was Michelotti's attention to detail that helped make the 44 a success in Western markets. For starters, he used stainless steel window surrounds to give the car a level of elegance. Their was a two-tone interior, and even flow thru ventilation courtesy of dash level air vents located either side.
The 44 used the DAF Variomatic transmission invented by Hub Van Doome. Rather than using gears,
the DAF used twin rubber Vee-belts running over 2 sets of
pulleys, changing sizes according to road conditions
and being controlled by a centrifugal clutch. While the system was ill-suited to powerful engines, the DAF 44's 2 cylinder engine was a perfect match.
There was a catch however, the room the Variomatic transmission took up in the rear and the need of a usable boot, the DAF 44 had to be higher than the Herald and this upset the balance of Michelotti's otherwise sound design. The result was that many believed the car to look too "boxy".
the "Standard" version was introduced when production switched from DAF's Eindhoven facility to their new factory in Born - however this latter model was not terribly successful. The car went on sale in the UK for the very low price of £747, the Standard cutting that figure to a very affordable £699. Servicing costs were kept to a minimum too, the air-cooled engine requiring no radiator or lubrication points.
came the MarkII, which featured softer materials on the steering wheel, and the door handles were integrated into the arm rests for safety. Externally there were bigger headlights fitted to improve nightime vision.
In September 1972
the car was fitted with a 12 Volt electrical system (replacing the 6 Volt set-up), along with some minor safety revisions which included slightly bigger bumpers with rubber corners, and new wheels with black wheel covers.
the DAF 44 was superceded by the DAF 46, although this new iteration would only last 2 years, being discontinued in 1976
after 32,353 cars had been manufactrured.