Rare 1979 DAF 2100 restored

Posted by Chris Graham on 8th April 2021

After working hard for 18 years, then sitting, neglected for another 15, this rare 1979 DAF 2100 is now back to its best, as Pip Dunn explains.

Rare 1979 DAF 2100

Rare 1979 DAF 2100 restored: David Parkinson has owned this lorry since it was almost new.

Much as I love a nicely restored Volvo F10 or ERF B Series, I have to admit that, probably in common with most enthusiasts, whenever I see something slightly more unusual in this day and age, I get just that little bit more excited. So, when I got word of a rare 1979 DAF  2100 that had been superbly restored and was literally on my doorstep, I had to go and find out more. DAFs are rare enough on the show scene as it is, but those with the smaller, F220 cab are even more so. And rigids aren’t 10-a-penny at shows, either, so this 2100 ticked a lot of boxes.

A Fenland home
It’s owned but David Parkinson, and is finished in DP Packaging company colours. The lorry is kept safe, warm and dry in a workshop near Spalding, in the South Lincolnshire fens, and it was there that I met with David to get the low down on this fascinating four-wheeler, a vehicle that you took for granted in the 1980s, yet now is as rare as hen’s molars…

Rare 1979 DAF 2100

A sleeper cab, but not the most spacious in the world.

David began by explaining that he bought the truck when it was just a year old, back in late 1980. “It was a flatbed when we snapped it up to from a secondhand truck dealer in Rowley Regis, near Birmingham – Brandrick Commercials.

“I bought it to support the packaging business. I had a Dodge and two Bedford TK 7½-tonners, and this was the first 16-ton truck we owned. We used the DAF for 18 years until 1998, when I stopped doing haulage to concentrate on the packaging business. The truck was retired at that time, with the view to it being returned to use if the firm ever needed it. I have to admit, though, I couldn’t bring myself to part with it.”

David left school at 16, and went to work in the family business, then moved into transport when he was 18, buying a 7½-tonne Bedford to do fruit deliveries in the area. He then took his HGV Class 1 test and bought the DAF. By 23, he was working in the packaging business.

Rare 1979 DAF 2100

As clean underneath as on top.

Sister arrives
The DAF was joined by a second 2100 in 1982. That was bought new with a fridge body, and was used until 2000. “Both DAFs were then parked at our Pinchbeck site, in case we ever needed them, and simply left,” he added.

As it transpired, neither truck was ever called on to earn a living again, and both were simply left to the elements until David decided he simply had to restore one of them. “I chose the V-reg as it was the oldest, started its restoration in 2015 and finished it in 2017.

“Mechanically, it was pretty good and, with new batteries and a fuel filter, it could be started and I was able to drive it on to a low loader.” Then the hard work started. It needed a radiator re-core, a new water pump, a starter motor, alternators and a few other bits. “The cab was so bad that we decided to opt for a new shell, which I sourced from a chap in Leeds; it was still in its frame from the DAF factory!”

Replacement headlamps are scarce and weren’t cheap.

The axles and gearbox were fine, but the body was also in a bad way. “That went to Lawrence David in Peterborough, who’d built it, for a full restoration to original condition. It even got a period ‘builders’ plate’ on the back.”

Most of the work to revive the 2100 was undertaken by Norman Smith and Jack Parkinson. Norman, now in his 70s, has been around trucks all his life, and used to spray-paint new trucks. But he’s since sold that business and retired, but, rather than sit at home, he loves to tinker with old lorries.

The truck is in its original livery of Post Office red and Lemon Ice light yellow. The attention to detail is superb, including the correct period ‘phone number and some traditional, 1980s-style signwriting.

The body was rebuilt by the same local company as had built it originally.

Getting the parts
Given there are most likely no scrap DAF 2100s lingering in yards in the UK, and probably hasn’t been for years, how does David get the parts to restore such a rare vehicle?

“I go to a lot of scrapyards in the Netherlands. I have three preferred yards that I still visit regularly, and I’ve got plenty of contacts over there. But many parts I source by word of mouth. I’m in regular contact with many people, and also find the occasional, useful part on eBay.”

Is DAF able to help in any way? “Sadly not. I get nothing from DAF because it has no spares left in stock. But there’s a DAF old timers club in the Netherlands which can help but, the fact is that, nowadays, there simply aren’t a lot of parts left, so we’ve had to have many components fabricated locally.” The headlights, for example, were all made new, and didn’t come cheap. But Norman is good at making parts. “I was offered three sets of rear lights for these models, so I took two of them, maybe I should have had all three!”

Rare 1979 DAF 2100

On the road – with a relatively meagre 156hp on tap, David reckons it’s a tad underpowered for long runs.

David’s other 2100 is still in storage at a yard nearby. “I’m not robbing it, and I have enough parts now to restore it, including a complete cab. It will get restored eventually.”

Since resurrecting the 2100, David has done another top-rate job on another, equally rare DAF. This time it’s a 2300 4×2 sleeper-cabbed tractor, which has been refurbished to an immaculate standard.

Next in line
David is now on to restoring a 2300; an ATi model from late 1992. This was one of the last of its kind off the Eindhoven production line, as the model was replaced by the CF75 and CF85 models that year. That truck has an Allison automatic gearbox, and will also be another head-turner when it’s finished.

David also owns restored examples of a Volvo F88 and a Mk2 F10, and has a Bedford KM 16-tonner rigid in the workshop waiting for its turn to be brought back to life. The Volvos are roadworthy, but the Bedford is a while off, given there’s another DAF ahead of it in the queue!

The 2100 has been to Gaydon and the Retro Truck show in 2018, and was also on the DAF stand at Truckfest, that same year. Obviously, the show scene has been almost non-existent since Covid struck but, all being well, David hopes to take the 2100 and/or the 2300 to the Retro Truck show in September 2021. “I’d like to take it on a local road run, too. I’ve done the Wisbech run with it, which was a nice ride out.

“We took it to Gaydon [in 2018] as a spur-of-the-moment decision. I got up a 6am that morning and said to my girlfriend, ‘c’mon, let’s go to Gaydon with the DAF’! I hadn’t pre-booked but, when we got there, they made sure we got in!”

All being well, he also plans to take one of the DAFs on the 2022 London to Brighton road run, 2021 having been cancelled. Any of the restoration team can drive the preserved trucks, and they are fully road legal. “I might low-loader it to some shows, but also, I might drive them there!”

It’s no speed king!
The 2100 has a DAF DH825 8.25-litre six-cylinder, naturally-aspirated engine producing just 156hp, and the torque rating is – by today’s standards, at least – a meagre 504Nm.

The engine drives through a six-speed splitter ZF gearbox to the single-reduction rear axle, with a ratio of 5.72:1. Steel spring suspension is used throughout.

The narrow cab – the bigger 2800 had a full-width and higher cab – nevertheless has a single-bunk sleeper, but there was no such luxury as a night heater! “I used to do a run to Glasgow market with it, and it was cold to sleep in without a heater! It was also a bit underpowered for that run!”

There was a 202hp version of the 2100, while the 2300 – which used the same cab – had a 230hp engine, but these were more likely to be seen as 6x4s. You won’t see many DAFs of this vintage on the show scene, even fewer with the smaller cab like David’s fine examples. It’s no understatement to say this that 2100, and its 2300 sister, are in the premier league of restored lorries!

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