At the 2005 Auto RAI exhibition in Amsterdam, a design prototype from the Dutch manufacturer DAF is making its restoration debut. The silver coupe named Siluro, Italian for Torpedo, was shown on the DAF Club Netherlands stand as part of a 25th anniversary. Since its 1968 Geneva Motor Show debut, the DAF Siluro hasn’t made a public appearance.
The Siluro is based on the DAF 55, a small passenger which sold close to 200 000 units while rivaling the VW Beetle and Fiat 600. However, it was this prototype which attracted the necessary attention during the Geneva Motor Show in March 1968. The slim looking car was designed and build by the Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti, who styled many of DAF’s production cars, but this prototype was the companies’ most radical.
Michelotti was one of the successful independent car designers in the fifties and sixties. BMW, Triumph and DAF had many production models designed by his studio in Orbassano near Turin. Clear lines, slim window posts and large glass surfaces were his characteristic design features and gave his models a distinct style. Featuring a very low front and a high tail, the Siluro was his first wedge shaped car.
The two seater coupe, like all DAF 55 models, was equipped with a 67 cu in (1108cc), four-cylinder engine and DAF’s unique Variomatic Transmission. Inspired by the belt-driven machinery in the factory, Huub van Doorne, co-founder of DAF, came up with the idea to produce a car transmission using belts and called it variomatic. It is in fact a stepless, fully automatic transmission and helped secure success in world rally .
History of the Prototype
The Siluro was treasured by Michelotti and he kept the car in good order untill his untimely death. The car then came in the possession of his son. He kept the car in his garden in memory of his father. Through the years the car’s condition deteriorated; bird were flying in and out, dogs and cats stayed in it and the trunk contained honey-combs.
After many years there was little left of the car and finally the Siluro was sold to a German merchant. This man offered the car immediately to the DAF Museum in the Netherlands.
With funding from the DAF Museum, the derelict car was bought and restored in the original condition. The car’s body needed a lot of attention and craftsmanship to restore as there were obviously no spare parts for this unique prototype. Special attention had to made to the hand-made bucket seats as well as re-chroming the hand-made chrome parts.
After years of meticulous work by the museum staff, the DAF 55 ‘Siluro’ by Michelotti is back in it’s original glory and has finally, 37 years after its debut in Geneva. The show the car will become a permanent display in the the DAF museum (Tongelresestraat 27, Eindhoven, the Netherlands).
Story by Anthony Hazelaar and AutoRAI, edited by Supercars.net