In this video, Will Shiers asks the question, were they the good old days? The answer is always going to lead to mixed feelings, nostalgia is a wonderful filter which makes past experience a lot better than it was at the time.
The film was made by Will Shiers, who takes over as the European correspondent in Diesel Magazine in 2018, from long time Diesel columnist, Brian Weatherley. He will be continuing the tradition of bringing some dry pommie self-deprecating humour to his analysis of the European truck scene, for our readers.
Coincidentally, the DAF 3300 ATI which Will finds so disappointing, is the same model in which I drove on my first time full-time semi driving job. It had been my dream, while driving knackered out Leylands around the UK in a series of short term contracts, to drive a state-of-the-art European high horsepower (a massive 330 hp), like the 3300 ATI.
By the time I had achieved my dream, the world had moved on and I was being over taken by top power Volvos and Scanias with a whopping 400 plus rating. My memory also includes the reality the low roof height and high engine hump making moving around the cab and getting into bed very difficult. The interior lights were good enough to help you find the door, but not powerful enough to read by.
It wasn’t until coming to Australia and starting to drive trucks with a bit more oomph and enough room to swing a small cat that life began to improve. The example which Will is driving is the later innovation, the Space Cab, with a raised roof making just enough room to live in, but the high engine tunnel still means the driver had to stoop when standing in the cabin.
By the way, the ATI stands for advanced turbo intercooling, an innovation at the time, but something we no longer need to advertise in a truck name these days.
Here in Australia the 2800 was sold in reasonable numbers, and later the 3600, with a rip-roaring 428hp engine, was assembled here. The brand was soon to disappear from our shores, until the takeover of the DAF brand by Paccar and a return to Australia, coupled with Kenworth.
Anyone who drove those old DAFs will be relieved to hear the modern 85 and 105 models are of the spacious modern European type and no relation to those trucks of the eighties.