Truckstop Classic: DAF 2600 Series – The Mother Of International Road Haulage (In Europe)

DAF 2605 DKA Joost J. Bakker

At the 1962 BedrijfsautoRAI (a biyearly truck show in Amsterdam for professionals and enthusiasts) DAF surprised everybody in the trucking business with their brand new 2600 series. It was designed from scratch and it did not resemble any other truck that DAF built till then. The 2600 series was a heavy long distance truck, and obviously DAF had both the owner and the driver in mind while designing this new model.

The 2600 series stood out from DAF’s competitors for its voluminous cube-shaped cab which offered maximum achievable interior dimensions given the overall-length restrictions for Euro trucks in that era.

DAF 2600 interieur Duitse folderThe interior as shown in a 1966 German DAF brochure. This one must have had the optional two-speed drive axle, since it has a splitter on the gear lever, making it a 12 speed constant mesh transmission.

Furthermore it had a large glass area for optimal visibility, sprung seats and an excellent heating and ventilation system. The driver was completely “in control” since all switches and levers were within his reach while driving. There were two beds, the upper bed could be folded up at the back of the cab. The fully reclining passenger seat also contributed to its good comfort.

The hood (inside the cab) and floor were insulated to reduce engine noise and heat. Minor comfort details were a cigarette lighter and two ashtrays, one for the driver and one for the co-driver. And there were small storage facilities throughout the whole cab.



DAF 2600 met opleggerBoth the tractor and the semi-trailer are DAF products, the tractor is a DAF 2600 and the semi-trailer is a DAF Eurotrailer

All in all, this truck must have come as some sort of revelation to all the guys who already roamed the entire continent in the fifties, living and working in small cramped cabs with a steering wheel, a pair of tiny window wipers and a padded stool as the only comfort items.

DAF 2600 interieur (2)The interior in the early seventies

The truck’s hardware at its introduction in 1962 came from Leyland, ZF, Timken and Westinghouse. The engine was Leyland’s P680 11.1 liter six cylinder diesel engine, good for 220 (SAE) horsepower. ZF (Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen) supplied the six speed constant mesh transmission and the hydraulic power steering gear. Timken supplied the double-reduction drive axle and the air brake system came from Westinghouse.

DAF 2600 Charles BurkiOne of Charles Burki’s DAF illustrations. Given the quality of his work, the man fully deserves a CC of his own–a good idea for a future CC)

Initially the engine came straight from Leyland’s UK plant, but soon after DAF started to build the 11.1 liter engine in its own engine plant. As a matter a fact, all DAF diesel engines (now with the name PACCAR on the valve cover) are descendants of Leyland engines. The opening of DAF’s own engine plant was in 1957 and Leyland licensed DAF to build several of their diesels, an excellent starting point.

In 1968 this 11.1 liter, the DP 680 engine in DAF-jargon, evolved into a 11.6 liter engine; the renowned DAF 1160 series of diesel engines, it would become the heart of all their heavy trucks for almost thirty years.  From that moment on the DAF 2600 series with the 250 hp DKA 1160 engine was the top model and a year later, the less powerful 230 hp DK 1160 engine became available for the 2600 series too.

DAF 2600 Charles Burki (2)From the same 1966 German brochure as shown above, clearly another Charles Burki illustration

In 1972 DAF installed a KKK turbo charger on its 1160 engine, that DKB 1160 engine was good for 324 SAE hp or 304 DIN hp. DAF switched to the DIN-system (Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V.) in the early seventies to rate their engines’ horsepower. Because of the turbocharger, the cab of the 2600 series had to be mounted somewhat higher on the frame, otherwise the new turbodiesel wouldn’t fit.

DAF 2600 sneeuwkettingen rivierDirty Daffy ! One of my favorite DAF 2600 pictures I found. It shows a Dutch driver doing a Middle East run in the seventies. He’s putting chains on the rear tires to cross a riverbed.

I’ve read a nice anecdote about this new engine. DAF wanted a small 304-badge on the grille of the new truck. But then the Van Doorne brothers (the letter D in DAF) got a phone call from an angry family from France: Objection ! The number 304 on a grille, any grille, belongs to us !…So the number 304 would only appear on some of the truck’s prototypes, not on the final product.

The new turbo diesel required other transmissions, one could either have a 9 speed ZF or the very famous built-like-a-rock 13 speed Fuller RTO-9513.

DAF 2600 Wim Alberts foto en chauffeurTwo DAFs 2600 parked next to a Magirus-Deutz. (Photo: Wim Alberts)

In 1973 the DAF 2600 series came to an end and was superseded by the DAF 2800 series, another DAF legend. However, it’s very obvious to see that the design of the 1962 2600 series lived on in all midsize and heavy DAF trucks in the seventies and eighties. A true hero for any DAF truck enthusiast indeed, and a proof that it was one of the truck maker’s milestones. At its introduction it showed all truck makers that DAF had become a serious competitor and that it was no longer just a small and local manufacturer.

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