Junkyard Find: 1990 Daihatsu Charade SE

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1990 daihatsu charade se

Did anyone in America buy Daihatsu Charade s? In at least one case, yes!

In 1990, car shoppers looking for a small gas-sipping-yet-sporty Japanese car had their needs amply met by the Civic, Corolla, Sentra, Protegé, and Mirage. Hell, even the Geo Storm/Isuzu Impulse held a tiny piece of the high ground needed by Daihatsu to make a go of it with the Charade. Potential Charade buyers, perhaps too distracted by the prospect of the Mother of All Battles to find their local Daihatsu dealership, went to the competition.

But not the buyer of this ’91, who persevered and was rewarded with this lil’ red devil! This example features the not-at-all-sought-after “big-block” four-cylinder engine, which made 80 horsepower instead of the base three-banger’s 53 horses.

All in all, not one of the great moments in automotive history. Still, FAW thinks enough of the G100 Charade to build it to this day in China.

There’s a single Daihatsu Charade running in the 24 Hours of LeMons these days, thanks to Dai Hard Racing in California. It’s been heavily modified with turbocharging and who-knows-what-else and it’s quite fast (and unreliable); I don’t scrutinize the Dai Hard machine too closely when I’m doing BS inspections, because, well, it’s a Daihatsu!

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  • Daihatsu Daihatsu on Jan 19, 2012

    I Have a 1988 XL Hatchback 5 speed 3 cyl. with 200k miles and just totally overhauled (leaky head gasket,still got 42 MPG but I wanted new parts everywhere, see rockauto.com for parts)with now 1200 miles on it. Driving it from since 1993 from Ca. to Fl. to MO. it would get 44 MPG with the air on doing 70 MPH.Has power windows,mirror and Tech. Gets about 39 MPG around town. Painted it yellow and have biggest 13 inch tires on it and it handles like a dream. Detroit screams about trying to make a car that get 30 MPG in 2011 but this was going strong in 1988.

  • Arthur Dailey Is most of your driving in stop and go urban traffic?Do you have kids, who you have to drive to and from their activities? Sometimes with their friends/teammates.Do you have pets? Do you have some mobility issues?Can you perform maintenance yourself?Do you have a discretionary fund for unforeseen repairs?Do you have another car, so that you only need to use this on weekends or rural/highway trips?Check your answers to the above. They may tell you that as nice as this car is, you might be better off with a new, boring but more practical SUV.
  • DungBeetle62 Before everyone dumps on California and their tax structure and Gavin's hairstyle, my recent road trip (which didn't get to California) was as follows when tanking up Super Unleaded.Texas - Fort Worth area Costco : $3.36Texas - Amarillo Sam's - $3.46New Mexico - Albuquerque Costco - $3.75Arizona - Flagstaff Sam's - $4.25Nevada - Henderson Costco- $4.72Oil is oil is oil is oil. State taxes vary, transporting the refined product varies, but a friggin BUCK AND A HALF more a gallon (and we're talking Costco to Costco here) ain't passing the smell test as you get out west. No, count me in with thinking someone out west is going for a bigger bite of the apple and figuring people will blame Newsom.
  • Tassos Whoever pays $23,000 for this 15 year old unreliable car will regret it. I would not pay half that.Go get an excellent E55 AMG, also 2008, and pretty close HP-wise, with far higher Torque, and a proper luxury interior..
  • VoGhost Why would anyone want to save a car dealer? No really - what actual value do they provide?
  • FreedMike Really nice example, but these are LEGENDARY for being money pits.