By on February 18, 2016

1988 Daihatsu Charade, Ryan Glass/The Truth About Cars

(Everybody welcome Ryan, who has been #blessed enough to own one of the most recherche Japanese cars of the last thirty years! — JB)

I’m not a monogamous guy, at least not when it comes to cars. Since my college years, I’ve consistently owned two vehicles at all times. The idea was to have a nicer, newer car for trips and weekends, then add an old beater to tackle the dull daily commute, run errands, and save wear and tear off the new car. After all, variety is the spice of life. It was also enjoyable to have a few choices depending on my mood in the driveway.


My Daihatsu story begins with the “beater” before it, a 1987 Subaru Justy. It was a lucky find on Craigslist back in 2006: two owners, only 110,000 miles, working air conditioning, trustworthy mechanical condition. The interior was a little rough, however, with sun-weathered seats and torn carpeting. Outside, the paint had faded and the C-pillar had a large nasty dent, almost as though a ninja had done a pseudo-chop across it. But it passed California’s strict smog regulations, and for the mere price of $550, all the aesthetic faults could be forgiven.

1988 Daihatsu Charade Interior, Ryan Glass/The Truth About Cars

That car proved to be reliable and solid as can be during the four years I owned it. Aside from some electrical gremlins caused by the previous owner’s decision to wire up some foglights at home, the car never needed any attention. I drove it from one end of California to another — continually. But part of me always wished to bring the Justy back to its original ’80s econo box glory. Since the costs involved were prohibitive, I had to scrap that idea no matter how much I wanted to see the end result.

To fill the time and also to prove that I can’t stay committed, I frequently browsed Craigslist for a potential newer, cleaner beater to replace the Justy. There’s a sea of cheap, abused Japanese and American compacts from the ’80s and ’90s just ready to be plucked from eager sellers. Keywords such as “Tercel” or “Escort” (not in the other sense) resulted in lots of options, but none deserving of serious attention.

1988 Daihatsu Charade, Ryan Glass/The Truth About Cars

One day, the thought randomly crossed my mind that Daihatsu once existed on these shores with cheap and cheerful models. I had serious doubt that anything would pop up on Craigslist, but it was worth a try. I remembered my kindergarten teacher having a Charade. They were also common in my native Australia, once upon a time. Then, voila, one result: a 1988 Daihatsu Charade with only 48,000 miles and in great condition. There were a few fuzzy photos attached, and the ad had been posted for over a month. “Being real,” I said to myself, “There’s no way this car would be that clean, and even if it were, that it would still be for sale.”

I emailed the owner to inquire if it was still for sale, and he came back quickly with a resounding yes. He mentioned he’d had it for only six months to use as a commuter, but couldn’t get comfortable in it. He needed something bigger. A Chevy dealer had sold it to him, and the original owners had kept it for 21 years before that. Asked about its condition and if there were any issues, he replied, “It’s in great shape, with just a dirty headliner.”

1988 Daihatsu Charade, Ryan Glass/The Truth About Cars

We’ve all heard this before. Ads claiming a used car is in like-new condition and brilliant inside and out. Once we get there, though, it’s got a laundry list of issues that the seller seems surprised by. All these problems must have happened just after the ad was posted!

I had low expectations, but I drove the 100 miles from LA to Temecula to see the Charade anyway. If this car was a dud, at least it was a nice drive and there would be a casino out there where I could kill some time. I honestly thought it would be a bust, and my day was already planned on it being one. It was a 21 year old economy car. How well kept could it be?

1988 Daihatsu Charade Engine, Ryan Glass/The Truth About Cars

Turns out the answer was: very well, indeed. The car’s home was in a nice, newer neighborhood, and the seller was a Daihatsu collector of sorts. He had two Daihatsu Rockys stored in his garage. He’d been trying to sell the Charade for some time. He’d had a young fella painting his house who expressed interest in the car but didn’t have enough money saved to buy it. After a brief look around, pleased that it had only minor dents and the interior was immaculate, I took it for a spin without the seller accompanying me.

The car started right up, the A/C worked perfectly, and everything seemed solid. There was a strange whirring from under the hood at higher rpms, but otherwise it was very clean. Prepared to be disgusted by its condition, I ended up doing a walk around in a nearby parking lot and thinking to myself, “This is actually in really good shape. Really good shape.” The headliner only had some light grime near the visors that could easily be shampooed out, and the interior was like stepping back in time to 1988. Every detail, from the dash’s tight parting seams to the cloth stitching, was exactly how it looked when it left the factory in Osaka.

1988 Daihatsu Charade Front, Ryan Glass/The Truth About Cars

But what about the miles? The low amount of wear and tear didn’t contradict the low mileage, but was the odometer legit? The gauge itself was of the six digit variety, so it hadn’t rolled over Ford-style. After a quick stop at Kinkos to get online and check the Carfax, I confirmed that the miles were indeed true. Until it was purchased by the seller eight-months earlier, it had spent its whole existence in the San Fernando Valley. Maybe it was owned by an older couple who kept it garaged and drove it to the grocery store? Maybe someone who didn’t like driving? We may never know. Whoever it was had left in the car the original owner’s manual, warranty booklet, and an information packet from a long defunct Daihatsu dealer in Inglewood.

1988 Daihatsu Charade Side, Ryan Glass/The Truth About Cars

This was a car I couldn’t pass up. It would be a waste to do so, and there would never be another chance to find such a rare car in superb condition. The seller was asking $1,800. I was prepared to buy it for that, but thought I’d throw an offer at him, pointing out a few dents and the whir from the engine. I mentioned $1,400, but he settled for $1,450. With that brief negotiation, I was now officially part of the tiny and ever-shrinking Daihatsu family.

The drive back home was not dramatic, which is exactly what you want when taking a gamble on an older car. As silly as it may sound, I had a sense of pride and of being unique while scooting home on LA’s frenzied freeways. In this city obsessed with standing out from the crowd, I reminded myself that there were probably far fewer Daihatsus in this town than Ferraris.

Driving the Daihatsu is an experience in itself. With only 52 horsepower being pumped out of the miniscule three-cylinder, it’s not a car to be in while in a hurry. Acceleration is pretty leisurely, and even slight hills can pose a challenge. The transmission itself is pretty slick and makes the most of the car’s modest power. It does eventually get up to speed and once there, can stay at steady freeway velocities. At that pace, the tiny 13-inch tires are affected by ruts in the road as well as from headwinds generated by other, heftier cars. Handling is not power assisted and can get skittish on sharp bends. There’s a flingable, go-kart feel, but it’s all within reason. All of this may sound like a nightmare to anyone remotely interested in cars, but it’s not the case.

1988 Daihatsu Charade, Ryan Glass/The Truth About Cars

There’s an honest-to-goodness feel to this car that’s intoxicating. No fancy gizmos. No electronic nannies. Want some fresh air? You’re gonna have to crank those windows yourself. Airbags and safety? Not really. Need to check for vehicles in the right lane? Oops, the right side mirror is still on a shelf in Japan. The Charade does come well equipped by ’80s econo standards: air conditioning, a rear defroster, intermittent wipers, and interior quality that echoes Camry more than Geo Metro. Still, it’s really just an engine, manual transmission, some seats, a steering wheel, and a body around it. This is a car that demands you drive it, and not just skip by on luck. Making the most of the small engine requires concentration, while the compact, diminutive size makes you aware of everyone around you.

The visibility is unlike that found in any modern car. There’s an almost 360-degree view from the driver seat. Plenty of leg and headroom, too. And there’s no electronic distractions in the form of touchscreens that freeze or fussy, voice-activated commands.

There is an elite feeling with the Charade. To most people with untrained eyes, it’s just another old ’80s economy car — nothing more, nothing less. Some people see it and ask if it’s a Datsun — or worse, a Daewoo. Once in awhile, someone does see it and realizes what it is. Those people are either car enthusiasts or former owners. No exceptions. They get excited, remark on the condition, and say “Geez, I haven’t seen one of these in 20 years.”

That rarity can be troublesome when it comes to repairs. Luckily little has gone wrong, a testament to how well built anything from Japan circa 1988 is. The whirring sound during the test drive turned out to an exhaust manifold leak. There’s also an oil leak going on at the moment. My regular mechanic couldn’t, and didn’t want to, touch this car. A quick online search revealed a repair shop about 20 miles away from home that specializes in orphaned Asian brands (Daewoo, Isuzu, Suzuki, etc.) and they are able to get parts. Otherwise, the only other issue has been a muffler. There were no known Daihatsu mufflers in the country, and one for a Hyundai Excel had to play the role. Looking for parts for the Charade requires contacts, determination, and some creativity. It’s all a labor of love, and the challenge is part of the thrill.

Trim and body repairs are also a concern. The larger dents have been taken out by a professional and smaller ones will get their due in the future. The replacement of trim or interior panels, however, seems impossible.

Disaster almost struck in October 2015. The Charade was parked in my apartment’s garage out of the elements in the covered spot nearest to the entrance. A neighbor in their Toyota Sienna confused the brake and accelerator and hit the gate that protects the parking lot. The gate came off its hinges and nailed the Daihatsu’s passenger side door, resulting in a massive dent and scrape along the whole side of the car. It was heartbreaking after so much love had been put into the car. The Sienna driver claimed full responsibility and the car was taken to a reputable body shop, said shop having to Google “Daihatsu Charade” to see what was arriving at their door.

Upon looking at the damage, they were confident it could be repaired and no replacement parts needed. The big concern was that the insurance would evaluate the Charade’s worth against the cost of the damage and deem it a total loss. My heart sank, and my husband, typically not a car guy, was very upset that we could lose the car. Turns out that the insurance company couldn’t even determine the value of a 1988 Charade, and it was agreed between them and the shop that the $700 in repairs wouldn’t justify a total loss. The repairs were done professionally and the car looks as good as ever. It was a reminder how our time with this car, or any car, is precious and could be cut short.

1988 Daihatsu Charade, Ryan Glass/The Truth About Cars

It’s been six years since I bought the Charade, and it currently has 55,000 miles. We love this car. It’s been affectionately named “Yoshi” and, in a strange role reversal, no longer serves the role of a beater. The dilemma was that it’s just too nice to leave out in the elements and the harshness of daily driving. My current newer car, a Chevrolet Sonic, sits outside under a car cover and does most of the errand running. Yoshi is only used for short little trips and to go to the occasional car show. Otherwise, he lives a life of leisure during his retirement being one of the few of his kind in existence.

There’s a bond with the Charade that’s hard to describe. Many may not understand it, and probably don’t want to. Part of being a car fanatic is not having to explain it. It’s all about the love of the car, no matter how small, slow, or quirky it is.

1988 Daihatsu Charade, Ryan Glass/The Truth About Cars

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66 Comments on “Reader Review: 1988 Daihatsu Charade...”


  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Neat little car. There is something just charming about those 1980s econoboxes when they are kept in such pristine condition. The allure of the time capsule. Rarely does anyone take care of a car for over two decades, let alone an orphaned economy shoebox like this, and there is something respectable in such frugality and discipline. Edmunds has a long term Yugo in their fleet right now that isn’t quite as pristine, but has made for some interesting posts.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Thanks for the tip on the Yugo logn term test, it’s an awesome read.

      “About that suspension. Its compliance over obstacles like train tracks and big dips in gravel turnouts is astonishing. Ordinary pavement imperfections send predictable shivers through the structure, but when we carry some speed through a railroad crossing, the Yugo wafts along as if it’s been retrofitted with Airmatic. You hear the tracks, but you barely feel them; similarly, you’re aware of the huge suspension travel through those gravel dips, but the experience inside is serene. The historian Vuic begins his book with a joke about the ride — “Q: What do you call the passengers in a Yugo? A: Shock absorbers” — but in actual fact, our Yugo feels as supple at times as a vintage Cadillac.”

      This sounds like most Soviet-era steeds I’ve ridden in: rwd Ladas, fwd Lada Samaras, GAZ 31029 Volgas, IZH 2125.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    Great car. Must really stand out from the crowd in California.

    In England, we got the turbocharged GTti with 100bhp, which developed a minor cult following. Assume none of those made it out to the US!

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      No mate we didn’t, but we did have the Suzuki Swift GTi with the DOHC 16V 1.3L worthy of 101 HP. I test drove one way back in ’91 in Missouri and absolutely loved it.

  • avatar

    Fantastic read. Well done, sir. Congratulations on owning such a cool, quirky little car.

  • avatar
    Ltd1983

    Very cool to find it in this condition, and good work saving a “regular” rare car.

    A coworker had one identical to yours, about 15 years ago, and even then it was the first Daihatsu I’d seen on the road in probably a decade.

    I do recall being impressed with the quality of the car. I remember magazines complaining about their high cost when new, relative to other imports, but they always noted the Charade was built to a very high standard. Perhaps that’s helped yours last so long too.

    Congratulations, and keep up the good work!

  • avatar
    omer333

    I’m not suggesting your car is bad by any stretch, but have you taken it to Concurs Le’mons during Monterey Car Week?

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    My wife and I both agree that the the most compelling preserved cars are the obscure daily runabouts of yesterday. Everyone and their mom saved muscle cars in a hermetically-sealed garage. But something that saw actual active duty and came out intact on the other end is really something to behold. I really enjoyed this article. It was like you read my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @germanreliablity is in my opinion correct. It is the daily drivers, commuter cars, cars used by couriers, first cars that are not generally preserved yet should be. These are the types of cars that we learned how to drive in, bought with our own money and moved to our first apartments in.

      They more than the aspirational cars, represent how we lived and bring back memories.

      Good luck and long life to you and Yoshi.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Agreed, what catches my eye most in the flow of traffic isn’t the expensive luxury car or exotic, or even an old muscle car. It’s the well preserved “regular” car, typically something from the 80s or 90s since that is what I grew up around. A mint Early 90s Eddie Bauer Explorer, a well preserved and rust free Corolla. These are my objects of lust LOL. Less than collectible sedans from earlier eras are massively appealing as well. A walked away from a very tidy’ 63 Chevy II “300” sedan two years ago that was for sale locally, and have regretted it since. But I simply don’t have the space/time to add something like that to my existing two car fleet.

        This Charade might just be the coolest car ever featured on TTAC, I say that totally seriously.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          This was what I did in LA. Look, mint condition two-tone Explorer! Wow, perfect condition Samurai! OMG, pristine Cressida!

          I saw 50 G-Wagons too, but that wasn’t exciting.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            I do this often when I venture from the land of salt and rust aka home. In 5 minutes once in a strip mall lot in Chantilly VA, I saw 5 92-96 Camrys that looked fantastic. These cars survived well in the Rust Belt, but even better where there is no salt.

            I’m fascinated by the employee lot at Washington Dulles, where our Mazda 5 has gone to semi-retirement. Keeping it there should extend its life and it’s in good company with many other Japanese and Domestic vehicles of varying age with little rust. Still lots of 80’s and 90’s Japanese metal in that lot. Vehicles from 1995 that were all rotted out by 2005 in Western PA still look new(ish) and some are like this Daihatsu

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Spotted a late-80s pop-up headlights Accord in decent condition a few weeks ago and it really caught my eye. Such a trim and cleanly styled wedge of a sedan with tons of glass space. I haven’t seen one literally in several years.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            In Ontario Krown still uses a mid/late 80’s pop up headlight Accord in their ads. I agree, in my mind still the best looking of all 4 door Accords.

            I believe that a beat up one was also used in recent Honda commercials, when it keeps getting hit by a baseball and parts fall off it.

            For years (but not this year) an older gentleman used to be seen regularly at the neighbourhood shopping centre in a ;pristine condition original red Hyundai Pony. Possibly the most ‘disposable’ car in recent Canadian history. For a while also one of the best selling. It was amazing to see and hear how many positive thumbs up, happy beeps, comments and people coming over to see it, it generated.

          • 0 avatar
            never_follow

            We may be from the same neighbourhood, Arthur, OR there are two eccentrics running around southern Ontario with a red Pony. The guy had chrome hubcaps and a Canadian flag on his antenna if I recall, but I haven’t seen him in a while. He used to be a regular at the Garbage Basket plaza.

      • 0 avatar
        pdieten

        Tell me about it….my first car was a 1982 Buick Century in two-tone redwood. If there is still a single one of those things on the road anywhere, I’d be shocked. And it would be a head-turner if I saw it.

      • 0 avatar
        jim brewer

        It’s interesting that someone called it a “time capsule” car. Actual time capsules contain the things the people at the time thought the future would find interesting. They almost always contain junk.

        The real artifacts are like the Daihatsu. Things depended upon yet taken for granted.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Whenever visiting the Cayman Islands a rental car was included with our accommodations. Each time, without fail, we ended up with a 2004-ish Charade 4-door when leaving the Avis lot. Though we did upgrade to a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited when we went there for our wedding.

    The Charade of that generation has a lot of distinct quirks and details that are burned into my memory. The main one being the starter sound. It sounds like a diesel motor starting but doesn’t have the clanging you expect once it gets going.
    It has very thin everything. The sheet metal is thin, the doors are about 1 inch wide WITH the door cards on, the seat fabric is nearly transparent, and the thought of being in an accident inside that car, even at low speed, is a bit concerning.
    Its speedo was in KPH only where the speed limits are posted in MPH. And try not to think about the complete lack of airbags.

    In a place like Grand Cayman where speed limits are low almost everywhere it is a great little runabout. I did enjoy driving it since it was so light and tossable. It had adequate power to get up to the posted speeds with an engine I feel like I could remove by hand and store in a Rubbermaid bin. And it is not without its charm. One of my favorite pictures was one I took when it was parked next to a 4-door late model F150.
    I really enjoy visiting Cayman and part of my fond memories are driving around in that little thing.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Look at that wheel arch – tells me it’s likely a Giugiaro.

    Edit: Nope I’m wrong, designed by Diahatsu people.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “The seller was asking $1,800.”

    Amaze, in 2010!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I also want Sajeev to do a V-V on one of these, look how clean the lines are. That front end is awesome.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Agreed, I think this is the common element that makes me so enamored and appreciative of cars made in the 80s-90s-early/mid 2000s era. No flame surfacing or useless creases to break up massive slab sided-ness, rationally sized wheels/tires, and even black plastic bumpers and hub-cap-less wheels are made to look tidy and nice. Bumpers are neatly tucked up and not dragging the ground either.

      Designs that are straightforward and functional have a pleasing aesthetic to me. Okay fine they’re less safe to pedestrians and in side impacts and less aerodynamic, I personally can live with that (at least while I don’t have kids).

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      IRL the Charade shares some of the odd proportion of its contemporary, the Austin Metro, though a much cleaner interpretation. It’s a massive greenhouse relative to the short stub-nose front with a high utility rear opening. The gentler transition from hood to windshield helps it appear far less ungainly that the aforementioned Metro.

  • avatar
    multicam

    Was something lost in translation when naming the car? How is “Charade” supposed to be appealing?

    Anyway, nice review. I hope it lasts another 27 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      A friend of mine had a Ford Aspire. Her joke was that it aspired to be a car. She has gone back to Toyotas since then.

      Charade really isn’t any better. Was it pretending to be a car?

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, the Charade name probably wasn’t the greatest choice and didn’t boost sales. My guess is that it sounded catchy and anglo-enough in a Japanese focus group to warrant slapping it on their car.

        The Aspire, which I ironically owned as well in college, was another unfortunate name. I was continually ridiculed if it was “aspiring to be a real car.”

        The other bad choice was probably Probe. There’s a great circa 1994 Ford ad about giving a guy a Probe. It just never sounded right

  • avatar
    friedclams

    The humble functionality of that car is beautiful to my eyes.

  • avatar
    JMII

    A Justy and a Charade? You are just missing a Yugo or Geo for the slam. I admire your passion for this little thing but in my mind life is too short to settle for such a penalty box. However if your stuck in LA traffic I guess it doesn’t matter since your not really “driving” anyway. The vehicle serves it purpose and its in great condition… that speaks volumes in a our current throw-away society.

    • 0 avatar
      GermanReliabilityMyth

      Don’t forget Le Car. Add that to the list and that should cover just about everything worth mentioning.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        If we’re sticking to small stuff only, Renault Alliance!

        • 0 avatar

          Well, then it’s a slam dunk! I had a 1993 Geo Metro in high school as my first car with its 3-cylinder as well. My life revolves around little cars.

          Life is too short to not have what you want (within reason), but I am thrilled having these little cars. Always have been. and the Charade takes the cake

          In addition to it and the Sonic, I do also have a 1992 Ford Explorer, first gen with only 62k miles. That adds a little bit of variety

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “I do also have a 1992 Ford Explorer, first gen with only 62k miles. That adds a little bit of variety”

            Niiiiice.

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          A few months ago, maybe a year actually, there was an Alliance GTA convertible for sale somewhere in the midwest, maybe Indy-area. Found it in an Autotrader search for 5 spd convertible. Low miles, 5 spd, great shape. Asking price was 5k and seemed reasonable considering it might be one of the few left.

    • 0 avatar
      IndigoCoyote

      I had a Justy and a Geo Metro- sounds like I need one of these to complete the “slam.” That will be tough. You always want to get the triple out of the way when going for the cycle.

      Tho I did drive a Stanza completely into the ground, which should count for something.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I honestly was surprised when this brand failed in the US market, because the Charade wasn’t a bad little car. It wasn’t an issue of the vehicle being outdated or assembled haphazardly, a la Yugo. I wonder if Daihatsu would have had a better chance, had they waited a little longer.

    • 0 avatar
      360joules

      I was told it was a keiretsu thing. Daihatsu was in Toyota’s group and the Rocky was anticipated to compete with the Rav4’s debut to the US. In 1989,90,91, it’s only US market competitor was Suzuki with the Sidekick or perhaps the larger & heavier Isuzu Amigo. Without the Rocky, a Daihatsu dealer only had tiny low margin cars to offer.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      They never actually sold cars in the whole country did they? IIRC, they were only sold out west. I have seen maybe one of these ever on the East Coast.

      Nice little thing, I have always liked the idea of triples, and they are coming back in style.

  • avatar
    omer333

    In the early 90s my dad was a salesman at the local Toyota/Mitsubishi/Diahatsu dealership and later the Nissan/Mercedes-Benz dealer; he was always bringing home neat cars as either an over-night loaner, or demo.

    I remember the Charade’s speedometer went to 115 and I had some serious doubts about it, but it was still a neat car. Same with the Rocky.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    Another gay car enthusiest with an appetite for weird/quirky/rare/forgetable cars! I thought I was the only one.

    I do want a Charade, Ive put em on my favorites list more than once. Id really love a Rocky, and a JDM-rebadged Scion xB (1st gen).

    If I were handed Scion before the shutdown was announced, Id have seen to it that all the brand sold would be quirky JDM cars federalized, mostly from Daihatsu, and even a small selection of Kei vehicles.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nice piece.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Thanks for sharing some “regular Joe” kind of car love! I also enjoy seeing older, so-called normal cars that are still in great condition. Exotics are almost boring to me, but a nicely preserved car like this Charade will surely get my attention. I actually pinged the dealership the other day that had the Toyota FX16 listed and contemplated buying it until they said they were asking $5995! My son and I still admire his 1997 Tercel with 230k+ on the odometer for its simplicity and utter stone cold reliability. He can easily afford newer, but the Tercel just simply won’t die. Matter of fact, I often ask him if he wants to return it to me, as it must be embarrassing for a C-17 pilot to show up to the airfield in such a plain car…lol. Right now, I am in Belgrade and am digging seeing all of the Yugos and Ladas running around!

  • avatar
    squidge

    This was really well written and entertaining. Thanks for sharing!

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I was happy to see this article. It just goes to show that there are true enthusiasts for just about every car ever made. (And this is less-irrational than some; at least this was a decent car compared with some of it’s contemporaries.)

    Certainly somebody lovingly caring for a Penalty Box that’s old enough to be married with kids is more of an enthusiast than somebody who spends too much time poring over car magazines, buys a super-fast car he has no idea how to drive well, and continually gets into gigantic flame-wars over performance with similarly-situated internet denizens.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    What a charade!

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I feel about the same way regarding my recently-purchased ’90 Integra. A friend sold it to me because she knew it had no trade-in. I rescued it from an ugly fate, like some people take in stray dogs.

    I didn’t care for it at first; I was just doing the noble thing. But since I bought it last September, it’s really grown on me. It bears preservation, so I just drive it once a week to keep the juices flowing. Not only the car’s fluids, but mine as well. It turns out it’s a really enjoyable car to drive, and a happy throwback to simpler times.

  • avatar
    ericb91

    Very cool post about a very cool car. As staid as the styling is, I love that little design accent in front of the rear wheel well. It’s just enough to make it stand out, yet not be obnoxious. Really a very cool design.

    EDIT: Maybe I should go buy a new Mitsubishi Mirage or Nissan Versa and keep it in a warehouse…

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    I know Americans seem adverse to 3 door hatches like this but it seems 20 yrs ago these things were really popular. A few of the Japanese and some of the Euros had hatches like this and while I dislike the 5 door ones I dont mind the 3 door ones.

    I like their honesty and I remember driving the 4 cyl ones and being impressed by the performance… these were 1.2 up to 1.5 and maybe 1.6 litre four cyl. some with twin cam 16v heads and even EFI (!!).

    Problem with modern versions of these is that the weight has gone up by a lot, we’re talking 1.1 to 1.2 tons and you get the black box DSC ABS TC EBFD electric steering etc.

    Even with upwards of 100hp the ‘crispness’ of the driving is gone.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I’m quite sure the people who designed the front and the back have never met or spoken with each other. Of course, that just adds to the charm.

  • avatar
    daniel g.

    Maybe the lost car for many of us

    http://importados.testdelayer.com.ar/test/daihatsu-charade-gti.htm

    A dream for many people. 1000 cc 100 cv and 15.4 km/l top speed 183.5 km/h

    Any company build something like this today?

    I tink Daihastu can make a comeback with more power this time, Mr. Toyoda world domination plan is part of this?

  • avatar
    kuman

    would you be interested for a pair of matching charade door mirrors? i think i can still find them in a nearby shop. rear spoilers too i guess…
    but im not sure if its 100% new or factory originals. However i do know that you need to paint them to match body color.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    I also notice this has no tacho but warning light panel. At least it has a temp guage.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    thumbs up!

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    As a car-aware teenager in Toronto I knew of this car despite it not being offered in Canada, like that weird to me US only Toyota FX-16 as well. Anyway this car always reminded me of an 84-87 Civic hatch which had been given reconstructive surgery or somesuch.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    I remember the Charade (and Rocky) quite clearly, as I worked at a Pontiac-GMC-Diahatsu dealer as a porter from 1990-1992. We drove a “loaded up” gold, automatic Charade as our office runner car. I never really liked the car, but I did take meticulous care of it with hand washes, waxes, and carpet shampoo regularly. And oh, I cannot forget my over-application of “vinyl dressing” for glossing up the dash, door panels, and tires. Slick, shiny, slimy glow.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Though I have mentioned how quickly Ford’s Taurus won the styling wars in the 80s – and set the world’s automakers on a jellybean-fixated focus they’ve taken decades to lose – Japan’s “origami” school of folded steel was one of my favorite styling eras, quickly killed off in the post-’86 rush to create more organically shaped exteriors and interiors. I can still see vestiges of the crisp creases and sharp break lines in that Charade’s body, and the interior simply screams “Universal Japanese Car!” with that ubiquitous design language of the 80s. I remember well how that left stalk worked: you push forward to lock high beams, pull back to flash, with turn signals activated by sweeping the lever to either side and twisting the end cap to activate running and head lights.

    Seeing a true time capsule automobile still performing yeoman duty as a daily driver is a joy I rarely experience in this area; thank you for sharing your find with us. And having experienced the anguish and pain of dealing with damaged door skins provided a rare empathetic connection while reading of the disaster.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Great write-up about a long forgotten car. I love time capsule cars, no matter what it is, although any domestic stuff in that creme yellow with matching interior is pushing it. And I agree with the sentiment that I’d rather see a car like this at a car show that has survived, over the umpteenth 55-57 Chevy or 68-72 Chevelle that was restored exactly like the one next to it, except for extra stuff from Summit or JC Whitney.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    As a Daihatsu owner, i feel very unique nowadays. They used to sell pretty good here, but they leaved Sweden around 2002. I bought mine in Germany but they are also gone from there.


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