Junkyard Find: 1989 Daihatsu Charade CLS

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1989 daihatsu charade cls

Has anyone seen a Daihatsu Charade on the street in the United States at any time during the current century? Strangely, I’ve now seen two of them in Denver junkyards this year. First there was this ’90 Charade SE, and now we have this ’89 Charade CLS.

The Charade was available in the United States for just five model years, 1988 through 1992, and the unfortunately-named Charade couldn’t compete with the likes of the Subaru Justy, Ford Festiva, and Geo Metro.

You could get the base Charade (known, cryptically, as the CES) with a one-liter three-cylinder engine making a miserable 53 horsepower. The CLS and CLX Charades came with a mighty 80-horsepower four. The tire replacing the radiator appears to be a junkyard-installed option.

Few new cars didn’t have electronic fuel injection by 1989, but Daihatsu evidently felt that EFI was still bragworthy.

Say what you will about the tenets of Daihatsu ownership, but 224,607 miles is quite an achievement for an 80s econobox.

This generation of Charade is still being built in China, where it is sold as the FAW Tianjin Xiali.

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  • Defango Defango on Dec 15, 2013

    I have one; it's a 1988 Daihatsu Charade ClS, Red in color. I have about 107,000 miles on it and it's still running strong. The car have been in Arizona for an extended period of time and can even handle the heat. It's got a few problems, the passenger door was backed into, so there is a big dent and the window doesn't roll down all the way. Other than that it runs pretty solid.

  • Fluffy4555 Fluffy4555 on Feb 14, 2014

    I purchased a 1989 Daihatsu Charade in 1989on sale for $5995 + tax in NC. Both my husband and I had put over 250K miles on this little three cylinder, 1 litre, ertremely fuel efficient masterpiece before he hit a propane truck head-on in 2008 and totaled the car. He did in fact suffer a broken leg, but considering vehicle size and speed of each, he came through the wreck w/o being a fatality. The motor and trans is still good in this car, should we ever need to replace one of the motors/trans in any of our other five Daihatsu Charades. These cars were built for endurance and extremely good gas mileage. The true reason for their removal from North America was due to the OTHER car company that had controlling interest in this company. They are sold everywhere except North America and it seems that as long as the car owner will do basic routine maintenance and use common sense, the cars are almost impossible to kill. But I find that these days, common sense is just not that common anymore!

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