Most modern day trucks benefit from some level of platform engineering and parts sharing between brands. DAF was doing this in the early 70s, when it partnered with the International Harvester Company.
Photo: The bonneted N2500 series was developed in 1973 for heavyduty work in export markets.
Long before DAF became an independent part of the Paccar company (builders of Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks) in 1996, the Dutch truck maker had a relationship with another large American commercial vehicle manufacturer. In 1973 a cooperation was set up between DAF Trucks and the International Harvester Company. This led to the introduction of a few ‘bastard trucks’.
Photo: The DAF NAT2500 was a mix of European and American technology.
One was based on the International Paystar and went through life as the DAF N2500 series. This bonneted model was intended for heavy-duty work in export markets. In the 11 years the Dutch manufacturer was part of IHC, the DAF N2500 ‘conventional’, as well as an International-badged forward control chassis with DAF cab for the South African market, combined the best of both worlds. In Europe an International Paystar 5000 construction chassis was sold that proudly displayed the DAF name on the big bonnet. Production of this hybrid on/off-road truck that went through life as the NAT2500, 2505 and 2506 lasted only two years. No more than 15 units were built and it is said that only two survive. One of these rare N2500 series trucks is owned by Dutch truck enthusiast Ad Verdel from Oudewater. The second wagon is in the hands of the factory-sponsored DAF Museum at Eindhoven. Ad, who already owns a good number of classic DAFs, was looking for a rarer model to add to his collection. “In 2005 I spotted one in an ad in a French oldtimer truck magazine,” he says. “The seller was a construction company in Toulouse. When I finally got a chance to pay them a visit the vehicle turned out to be in such a poor state that it was not really worth restoring. That was in 2005. It took 10 more years before I discovered another one on a Dutch auction website.
Photo: The Paystar cab is rather utilitarian but does have a comfortable DAF driver’s seat.
Photo: The 250hp DKA1160 6-cylinder DAF diesel engine was reconditioned and now runs very smoothly.
Photo: The sleeper box comes from a 1960s Kenworth that Ad also owns.
The owner was a showman in Limburg province. “The 6x4 tractor dating from 1975 had originally been on the road as a tipper truck with a construction firm in Sainte Eulalie-en-Berg in France. Dutch DAF agent Allers in Venlo had imported the NAT2500 in 1991 to turn it into a custom truck for promotional activities. They transformed it in-house to a metallic blue 6-wheel tractor sporting a lot of bling. Then in 2013 it was bought by showman Marel, who wanted to transport his funfair attraction around the country with it.” The rare DAF, however, was not in as good a condition as Ad thought, or had hoped, when he bought it in 2015. “Mechanically there was a lot wrong and under the striking blue paint the body showed rust in many places.
Marel gave me a new fender and two new doors with it. The truck was in running order, but only moved in first and second gear. Clearly something in the Fuller box was not okay. The 250hp DAF DKA1160 diesel engine appeared to be in reasonable condition. I think DAF dealer Allers had reconditioned it. They had also shortened the tipper chassis and made a tractor with an adjustable DAF turntable of it.” To patch up the cab Ad contacted truck restorer Theo Klaassen in Echteld. “He replaced some body panels and fabricated a number of smaller parts that were missing or in too poor condition to reuse. Kees Verdouw and Ben Wouters, two mechanics I have known for more than 20 years, also helped me a lot. That is worth gold, because if you have to outsource every little thing it becomes a very expensive hobby.”
Photo: Under the typical American The double-drive tandem and sliding fifth wheel are DAF.
Under the typical American bonnet and cab of the 2500 is a DAF DKA1160 6-cylinder diesel engine, a Fuller RTOF- 9513 transmission, and a 26-ton DAF tandem axle setup at the rear. The fully flat chassis rails come from the International Paystar F5070. However, up front this is altered to accommodate the DAF engine. The steering mechanism is ZF and the dual circuit brake system is also European. The latter gave the men some hard thinking because a good part of it was missing. “The problem was that we did not have a diagram of this type of DAF,” says Ad. “In the end we started from the installation in a DAF 2800 6x4 chassis which turned out more or less the same. The axles of the 2500 are also DAF sourced. The next problem that arose was the electrical installation that was for the greater part missing. Because this was American it took nearly a year before we found somebody who could sort it out!” What the old-truck enthusiast cannot understand is how this NAT2500 ever came through the MOT test when it was still in the hands of DAF agent Allers. “Maybe the last owner Marel has fumbled with the electrics,” Ad says. Under the belt the truck was also in a worse shape than expected. “When we dismantled the tandem axles a spring pack was found to be broken.
Photo: In the late 90s DAF agent Allers transformed the originally French tipper into a show truck.
Photo: It took Ad Verdel five years to restore the International-DAF and make it into a very rare heavy-duty tractor. 4) Ad owns one of only two surviving N2500s in Europe.
But on the positive side, the pure American interior was still complete and only needed some patching up. Remarkably, the Paystar cab is more spacious than a Kenworth or Peterbilt of the same age. The truck also rides more comfortably than a US tractor and the DAF engine runs much quieter than a Cummins or Detroit.” The new owner did not add a lot of chrome or fancy paint. “I wanted the truck to look utilitarian and not as a show truck.” Because the tractor had a rather long wheelbase, a typical American sleeper box was fitted behind the cab. However, Ad says with a smile, “climbing into it, your body has to be pretty flexible!” In conclusion, mixing the best of two worlds, the rare DAF ‘conventional’ was not a bad truck at all. Unfortunately, the story of this ‘bastard’ truck had long ended by the time IHC and DAF opted to split their operations for good in 1983.
Photo: Ad owns one of only two surviving N2500s in Europe.