Junkyard Find: 1990 Daihatsu Rocky

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1990 daihatsu rocky

Remember the Daihatsu Rocky? No? That’s OK, several vehicles of this type sank without a trace during the late 1980s and early 1990s (e.g., the Dodge Raider), and Daihatsu itself fled the United States in 1992. I see Daihatsu Charades in self-serve wrecking yards about every six months these days— including this ’89 and this ’90— and I don’t bother photographing most of them. A Rocky, on the other hand… well, let’s just say that this is the first Rocky I’ve seen anywhere in at least five years. How many are left on the street in North America? Hundreds? Dozens?

There must be at least one in the Denver area, because this junked example has been picked clean.

These little trucks came with a 1.6 liter engine and front- or four-wheel-drive.

Are project Rockies worth anything? Apparently not.

Right after I photographed this Rocky, I felt compelled to go on eBay and buy a vintage Daihatsu Racing sticker for my travel laptop. I also got a Daihatsu patch for my race suit.

I was so inspired by the sight of this Rocky that I dove down the rabbit hole of 21st century Daihatsu mini-SUV ads, and there I found some seriously frenzied Daihatsu Terios-thrashin’ stuff. Perhaps Daihatsu will return to the US soon, with a Rocky-badged Terios. All right, let’s watch some Rocky ads!

The actors in this JDM Rocky ad need to lay off the helium, is all I have to say.

In Germany, a romantic approach was used to pitch the Rocky (badged as a Feroza in Europe).

For Australia, the Rocky (Feroza) was compared to the body of Surf Iron Man Champion Guy Leech.

Another Australian (or maybe New Zealand) ad shows the Turbodiesel Rocky, which was apparently half Ferrari and half tank.

Also an excellent choice for surfers who liked to crash through sand dunes. Wouldn’t some of those impacts have set off the airbags? Oh, right— pre-airbag era, carry on!

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  • Megan736 Megan736 on Oct 03, 2014

    ROCKY DAIHATSU FOR SALE IN MICHIGAN. I have a Rocky 1992, fairly good condition, no rust. Green color, hard top. If anyone is interested in purchasing this amazing car email me at mtennant@nmu.edu. I am a college student and need cash, super sad to have to sell such an amazing car.

  • Gregor_w Gregor_w on Oct 09, 2014

    I have a 1990 red se w/ 152k on it. There are at least 4 others that I have seen here in Colorado Springs. Wish I could post a picture. It looks great and gets a lot of comments everywhere I go.

  • TheEndlessEnigma GM, Ford and Stellantis have significant oversupply of product sitting on dealer lots and banked up in holding yards across the country. Big 3 management is taking advantage of UAW's action to bring their inventories inline to what they deem reasonable. When you have models pushing 6 months of supply having your productions lines shut down by a strike is not something that's going to worry you. UAW does not have any advantages here, but they are directly impacting the financial well being of their membership. Who will be the first to blink? Those UAW members waving the signs around and receiving "strike pay" that is, what, 20% of their wages? UAW is screwing up this time around.
  • CEastwood Seven mil nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight for oil changes and such and the thicker heavy duty gripper gloves from Wally World for most everything else . Hell we used to use no gloves for any of that and when we did it was usually the white cloth gloves bought by the dozen or the gray striped cuff ones for heavy duty use . Old man rant over , but I laugh when I see these types of gloves in a bargain bin at Home Cheapo for 15 bucks a pair !
  • Not Previous Used Car of the Day entries that spent decades in the weeds would still be a better purchase than this car. The sucker who takes on this depreciated machine will learn the hard way that a cheap German car is actually a very expensive way to drive around.
  • Bullnuke Well, production cuts may be due to transport-to-market issues. The MV Fremantle Highway is in a Rotterdam shipyard undergoing repairs from the last shipment of VW products (along with BMW and others) and to adequately fireproof it. The word in the shipping community is that insurance necessary for ships moving EVs is under serious review.
  • Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks