1928, Hubert "Hub" van Doorne founded the company as Commanditaire Vennootschap Hub van Doorne's Machinefabriek. His co-founder and investor was A. H. Huenges, managing director of a brewery. Van Doorne had repaired Huenges' car several times, and Huenges, pleased with his work, offered to finance him in business. Hub started to work in a small workshop on the grounds of the brewery.
In 1932, the company, by then run by Hub and his brother, Wim van Doorne, changed its name to Van Doorne's Aanhangwagen Fabriek (Van Doorne's Trailer Factory), abbreviated to DAF. Huenges left the company in 1936 and the DAF company was then completely in the hands of the van Doorne brothers.
DAF developed the Trado conversions to convert 4×2 Ford trucks to an off-road 6×4 drive. One of DAF's few armoured vehicles, the M39 Pantserwagen, used developments of this Trado drivetrain. M39 production came too late for World War II – in the invasion of the Netherlands (1940) only three saw combat.
After World War II luxury cars and lorries were very scarce. This meant a big opportunity for DAF. In 1949, the company started making lorries, trailers and buses, changing its name to Van Doorne's Automobiel Fabriek (Van Doorne's Automobile Factory). The first lorry model was the DAF A30.
Through the 1950s, DAF was a major supplier to the re-equipping of the Dutch Army's softskin vehicles, with models such as the DAF YA-126 and DAF YA-328 'Dikke Daf'. These used the all-wheel drive H-drive developed from the Trado conversions.
In 1987, DAF merged with the Leyland Trucks division of Rover Group, and in June 1989 was floated on the Dutch and London Stock Exchanges as DAF NV. The new company traded as Leyland DAF in the United Kingdom, and as DAF elsewhere.
DAF Bus was split off in 1990 to become a part of United Bus. Following difficulties in the British market, After DAF NV was placed in administration in February 1993, the Dutch operations were sold in a management buyout with the business branded DAF Trucks.
In October 1996 Paccar acquired DAF Trucks. DAF Trucks and Leyland Trucks were rejoined in June 1998, when Paccar also acquired Leyland Trucks. On 9 January 2012, Paccar installed the cornerstone of the new plant in the city of Ponta Grossa, in the state of Paraná, Brazil.
DAF now has a net worth of 1.7 billion dollars
DAF produced their first lorry, the A30, in 1949. This lorry was upgraded in the following years. Their first attempt into the international market was a failure, the 2000DO. Their next lorry was the 1964 2600, which became a big seller with its well equipped but practical cabin. They also produced a so called torpedo front tractor.
In the 1970s, a new modular tilting cab called the F218 was introduced on the F1600/F2000 range of vehicles. Three years later, the wider F241, which featured DAF's characteristic three wiper windscreen, was introduced as the DAF 2800. This design lasted until the introduction of the 95 style cab in 1987. There was also a lighter, narrower version called the 'F198 which was introduced in 1972 on the F1200 and F1400, but this short lived model was replaced after only three years. In 1984, DAF truck production was 13,645; this increased to 14,382 in calendar year 1985.
DAF was also one of the first to introduce an intercooled turbocharged diesel engine into their lorries, which in these years became very evident with their 3600. Their largest 11.6-litre (710 cu in) six cylinder turbodiesel was based on the old Leyland O.680 motor. It was to be DAF's standard large engine long into the nineties.
DAF's 95 series was launched in 1987, and quickly gained the coveted 'Truck of The Year' award. The 95 featured an all new cab developed jointly with ENASA of Spain, a revised version of the 11.6-litre ATI engine, rated at 310, 350, and 380 bhp, and 16 speed ZF Friedrichshafen gearbox. On the Continent Eaton's Twinsplitter gearbox was an option. A full range of axle configurations were offered, to suit every operating requirement.
Much attention was paid to soundproofing; the gearlinkage for example was telescopic, whilst in-cab noise levels on the 95 put many luxury saloons to shame. An update in 1991 saw new power ratings of 329, 364, and 401 Bhp; – a 430 Bhp variant, along with low deck tractor unit models and revised interior trim, were introduced in the spring of 1992.
Two years later, after an intensive study of the ultra long haul market sector, DAF unveiled the 95.500 Super Spacecab at the 1994 RAI show. The 95 series cabin had gained height and length, and sat atop Cummins' 14-litre N14, rated at 507 bhp. ZF's new Aluminium cased 16S221 gearbox was fitted, with optional Intarder. An innovation was the hydraulic gearshift developed with Konsberg of Norway.
Within an overall height of 3.85m, the Super boasted an interior height of 2.25m, a luxury bunk with generous stowage space underneath, and a full range of options included microwave, fridge, and a television/video system. The 95.500 was available as a 4x2 tractor or drawbar rigid, with LHD only, though the Super Spacecab was available on 11.6-litre engined models. The 95.500 is now a very rare truck, which is surprising given the original list price of £87,650.
The basic cab design remains in production to this day, latterly as the 95XF and now the XF105, although both these developments of the original 95 are totally different machines under the skin. Other vehicles in the DAF range have included the inherited from Leyland Trucks Roadrunner (Badged DAF 600, 800, 1000 on the Continent) which evolved into the 45 Series, the cab of which was used on the 18 ton gross 55, also as a military spec 4×4.
An all new medium to heavyweight line up debuted in the end of 1992, the 65, 75 and 85 utilising the same wedge shaped cab. Powered by DAF's 6.24-litre (381 cu in), 8.65-litre (528 cu in) and 11.6-litre (710 cu in) engines, some novel styling details featured, while the 85 Series' cab sat 10 cm (3.94 in) higher on the chassis to clear the WS engine.
A short lived model was the 1990 to 1993 80 Series, using the T45 Roadtrain cab acquired from the Leyland Trucks takeover, fitted with the ATI driveline. Also offered for a short period was the 3200, basically a remodelled 2800 with the corporate style, three bar grille.