Zero To 50 In Just . . . Ah- (cough, cough) -hem . . . 28.9 Seconds!

My latest issue of Consumer Reports had a little nostalgic look back in time.

They showed a small photo of a little 1963 Dutch manufatured sedan, a DAF Daffodil, that when new in 1963, did 0 - 50 in an unbelivable 28.9 seconds.

Is that lame or what ?

I think a Zamboni would outrun it.

What’s the lamest performing car you know of ?

What’s the lamest perfoming car you’ve owned ?

Yep, that’s slow, even for '63. We tend to remember the 60s muscle cars and their blistering performance, but those were actually few and far between. Most cars back then were very slow by modern standards. For example, my first car was a used '65 Mustang with a 170 cid engine and a 4-speed manual. Sloooooow! Thank goodness it was, I drove it VERY hard, probably would have killed myself if I had a V8!

Hey, Joseph, How Was That Imp For Perfomance ? I Know Nothing About Them. How Many Horsepower ?


When I Managed A Body Shop We Had A Nice Isetta (BMW ?) There For A Long Time That Our Painter Was Restoring.

It was the kind that you got in through the front like climbing into your refigerator (I think the steering wheel moved out of the way). Some people thought they only had 3 wheels.

It ran, but I don’t remember going for a ride, but it looked very lame on performace.

When anybody mentioned Isetta, the joking response was “You said dah what ?”


Those cars achieved modest fame by being an escape route over the Berlin Wall. They’d hide the person escaping from East Germany in a secret compartment in the back over the motor. The guards didn’t think there was enough room to hide someone in, so they wouldn’t bother ripping the interior apart like they would with a normal car.

BTW some UK-market Isettas were 3 wheelers so they could be registered as motorbikes.

The Daffodil was the first effort by DAF (since bought out by Volvo) to make a passenger car. They were previously known for building tough heavy duty trucks, and great diesels for all manner of applications.

My aunt bought one of these, and since she was never in a hurry, and hated shifting gears, it was OK for her. The CVT used rubber belts, very similar to a snowmobile transmission, which limited the power throughput. Agree, with a name like Daffodil, it was not aimed at the testosterone male market.

Later models had more power and dropped the CVT. When Volvo bought them out the DAF cars became the 40 Series Volvos and were still built in Holland. Not sure where they are built now.

I also noticed that information about the little DAF yesterday when I got my new copy of CR. For those longing for “the good old days”, this is just one more clue that those days were not quite as good as many folks think they were.

As to anemic cars, I recall a Falcon that my father had to rent on the spur of the moment, many years ago, when our car was in the shop for repair. The rental car did not come from Hertz or Avis, or any well-known entity, but was rented from a local Mom & Pop place (Zampetti Rent-a-Car!)

No matter what my father tried, that Falcon would not go over 35 mph, and it took…until next week…to get to that speed. We tried lifting the hood, but it was either jammed or secured in such a way that we couldn’t open it.

Whether the car had some kind of primitive governor on it, or (as I suspect) it was just in atrocious mechanical condition, I can’t say for sure. But, in any event, that car was so slow as to be dangerous. Luckily, we were only driving from Hudson County, NJ into Manhattan, where the average traffic speed was less than 30 mph, even back in the '60s.

My '61 Karman Ghia, with a 1200cc flat 4. Slower than sludge. I could beat tractor trailers off the line, though!

I just checked a table of 0-60 times, slowest ones I could find:
'68 Fiat 850 with ‘Idromatic’ trans: 25.5 sec
’73 VW Beetle convertible: 23.8 sec
’74 Datsun B210: 22.6 sec
’79 VW Rabbit diesel: 21.3 sec
’81 Cadillac Seville diesel: 21.0 sec
’81 Audi 5000 diesel: 20.5 sec

So our current lack of interest in diesels is based partly on their SLOW performance the last time they came out…much better now, of course.

Isetta has an interesting history. It was atually created by a company (Isetta) that made refrigerators and scooters, and licensed to a number of different companys to manufacture. The different versions had different motorcycle engines and other variations on the basic theme. All had the front that opened up to serve as a door. Early versions had a single rear wheel, but due to the tendency to tip over most of them had two 10" wheels 6" apart in the rear.

A friend of mine had one in the early '70s. I got to drive it, even on the highway at 50 mph (flat, straight road). They felt wierd to drive, but were fun to scoot around town with. Just a bench seat over a motorcycle engine with a shell and a couple of headlight pods. Fortunately, we never got in an accident, or I doubt if I’d be here to tell the tale.

Actually, the Isetta was one of many “bubble cars” produced after WWII for the European market. Much of Europe was in economic ruin and there was a need for dirt-cheap transport. Google “bubble cars” and you’ll get tons of good information.

“What’s the lamest performing car you know of ?”

I understand the Trabant wasn’t exactly a screamer

“What’s the lamest perfoming car you’ve owned ?”

I’ve never really had a car that was terribly slow. I guess the slowest one would be the 1974 Triumph TR6, in terms of straight line performance it’s not great, but it has other qualities. I’ve never owned a front wheel drive car, nor have ever owned a car with less than six cylinders.

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Consumer Reports tested acceleration of U.S. cars by timing a 0 to 60 mph run. However, the foreign nameplates (VW, Morris Minor, Renault Dauphine, Opel Record, Vauxhall Victor, etc) were timed on a 0 to 50 mph for acceleration.

It was interesting to time a Chrysler product with the “lift and clunk” semi-automatic transmission on a 0 - 60 run. Even the Chyslers with the hemispherical V-8 engines didn’t post a very good time with that transmission.

I was thinking that a collection of those old CR tests would be a good read - too bad they don’t do that. They could collect them by decade, I’d buy a 50s and a 60s volume (forget 80s!).

These old Consumer Reports tests were fun to read. Our library used to have them going back to 1952. I remember reading a road test comparison between a 1952 Ford Mainline 6 and a 1952 Chevrolet standard. The Chevrolet didn’t even have an ash tray. What is amazing is that very few people actually bought these stripped models. Most buyers chose the Ford Customline or the Chevrolet DeLuxe. I also remembe a road test comparison between a 1952 Dodge Wayfarer and a 1952 Pontiac 6. Again, most buyers chose the top of the line Dodge Coronet or a Pontiac 8. Chrysler products fared well in those days. In 1953, among the low priced 3 (Ford, Chevrolet, Plymouth), Consumer Reports recommended the Plymouth. In 1954, the Ford 6 and the Plymouth were tied as best cars to buy. In 1957, the Chevrolet V-8 and the Plymouth V-8 were the top rated cars of the low priced 3. However, Consumer Reports did worry about the build quality of the Plymouth.

Consumer Reports also noted the miles per quart of oil on the tested cars as well as gasoline mileage at certain constant speeds. The 1953 through 1957 Oldsmobiles were good bets as used cars in the late 1950’s.

And Those Are 0 - 60 Times Compared With The DAF Daffodil’s 0 - 50 Time. A Calendar Could Probably Be Used For That 50 - 60 Time ! It Probably Started To Run Out Of Giddy-Up By Then, Eh ?


I remember watching the original The Fast and Furious here awhile back and one of the drivers in a Thunderbird stated he hopped his engine up that made his car go 0 to 50 in 12 seconds, and made it sound like a huge deal. 50 years ago it may have been, but even a little Yaris will make 60mph faster than that; not by much mind you

I Remember When Making “One HP/One C.I.” Was Considered Racing Engine Performance. Now All The Normally Aspirated Family Cars & Vans In My Driveway Will Do It.


Way back in the sixties, my then boss wanted a sexy second car, and bought a Mustang with automatic. air conditiong and the smallest 6 cylinder engine. In the summer with the air on, it was probably no faster than your dad’s rental Falcon

My 96 two stroke SAAB with the “rear mounted parking emergency brake” Ooops.
You could burn the tires at any speed till 50 mph. From there on up to, I would loose ground to 18 wheelers on hills and pass them going down… Interstate 95 in New Jersey was a nightmare for me. I was a slow moving ant among elephants.
I now love my gas hog big butt, fire breathing SUV for such trips.
Two strokes; great for outboards and chainsaws, awful in cars (at least mine)When it fouled a plug and I couldn’t immediately pull over and replace it, going from three cylinders to two was like driving with two clutch pedals, there was so little response in the accelerator. The “fart” noise was embarrassing too.

I’ve Heard Of Them, But Have Never Experienced The Stellar Performance Nor The Flatulence Exhaust Note . I’d Like To Check It Out, Though.

How’d you handle the gsoline / oil mix ?