By on March 7, 2016

1990 Daihatsu Charade in California junkyard, LH rear view - ©2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The Daihatsu Charade was available in the United States for the 1988 through 1992 model years, then was forgotten more quickly than the speed at which Darmstadtium-267 decays. Still, among the Daewoo Nubiras and Kia Rondos and Sterling 827s and other forgotten machinery at your typical California self-service junkyards, you’ll see a Charade now and then.

1990 Daihatsu Charade in California junkyard, EFI emblem - © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

Electronic fuel injection wasn’t exactly rare in 1990 U.S.-market cars. In fact, only a handful of cars didn’t have EFI by that point. Cool-looking emblem, though.

1990 Daihatsu Charade in California junkyard, SX hatch emblem - ©2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

In this series before today, we’ve seen this ’89 CLS and this ’90 SE. Today’s find is a luxurious SX. What could be SX-ier than a Charade?

1990 Daihatsu Charade in California junkyard, speedometer - ©2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

I think the Oldsmobile Achieva got slugged with a name more maddeningly stupid (and indicative of inept management) than the Charade, but the Charade is pretty close. What, no Japanese-English dictionaries were available when they were brainstorming this one? At least this one nearly made it to 150,000 miles.

1990 Daihatsu Charade in California junkyard, engine - ©2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

This one has the 16-valve 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine, not the miserable 993cc three-banger.

1990 Daihatsu Charade in California junkyard, interior - ©2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

In China, you can still buy new cars loosely based on the third-generation Charade, thanks to FAW Tianjin and other companies.

Proof that fun can be had in any car, I present a Charade-clone Tianjin Xiali sedan on a snowy road on the outskirts of a Chinese ghost city.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

44 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1990 Daihatsu Charade SX...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    How bad were these ? .

    Someone thought enough of it to repaint it , the seats still look O.K. ….

    Were they simply too basic or did they die often ? .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      IIRC from the last time the Charade was brought up on this site, it wasn’t a bad little car; just too little too late for Daihatsu in the U.S. The brand was on its last legs.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I don’t think they were *bad* just something the market wasn’t really asking for. They were affiliated with Toyota by then, after all. the late ’80s was more or less the end of the Malaise era, cars were getting bigger and more powerful again, and then this unknown brand with a funny sounding name shows up with tiny cars called the “Charade” and the “Rocky.”

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        My understanding was that they were very well screwed together with better-than-average interiors for the class, but were priced accordingly, which ultimately made sales unsustainable.

        I’d love to see a Diahatsu Rocky some time, it’s more or less the middle ground between a Suzuki Samurai and Sidekick. Looks like a Samurai but has an independent front suspension that makes it mechanically more similar to a Tracker.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Was Toyota trying a Geo type thing for lower end cars with these? Seems to me a line of Corollas based on Daihatsu would have been a better idea. Like the Colt lineup from Dodge.

    • 0 avatar

      I suspect part of it was the difficulty that any new entry has – setting up a dealer network, convincing people to buy their hard-to-pronounce car over better known names, the worry that they’ll go away and finding parts will be impossible.

    • 0 avatar

      Daihatsu ran into several issues when they got started in the US:

      1. They came in right after Hyundai and Yugo, who were both considerably cheaper and had terrible quality issues when they first got started. This led a lot of dealers to sour on adopting new brands in their showrooms and led a lot of US customers to sour on adopting new brands in their driveway.

      2. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Japanese automakers had a “Voluntary Restraint Agreement” in place where they “chose” to limit how many vehicles were imported into the US. Each brand was given a quota for how many vehicles they could import under the agreement, with quotas set based on how many vehicles they sold in the early ’80s. Since Daihatsu had no presence in the US in the early ’80s, and since none of the other Japanese brands were willing to voluntarily cede quota space, Daihatsu’s quota was laughably small, especially for low-margin econoboxes.

      3. Daihatsu’s product wasn’t terrible – the Rocky especially was an interesting vehicle – but there was no way they were ever going to be able to sell enough Charades and Rockys to cover the cost of maintaining a continent-wide dealer program.

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        As a former owner of a 4-cyl version, it was one of my favorite cars. It took me back and forth from Dallas to Baton Rouge until it was worn out. Good Japanese engineering. Nice pony.

  • avatar
    sproc

    I love when these poverty boxes of yesteryear are featured just to remind us how much better even the base Mirages, Versas, Rios, etc. are today.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Hey, don’t knock the Rondo. We are currently looking to add another Rondo of that generation to our driveway.

    Here in Canada they sell fairly well, as do Mazda 5’s.
    And in at least one Canadian city they are in fairly common use as taxis. Rather a good choice as you can seat 5 in comfort with lots of luggage space, plus there are available short use 3 row seats for 2.

    And yes, the seats on this Charade still look good and the dash is not bad for a poverty spec econobox of that era.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    Terrible drifting skills in that video.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Someone should get in touch with the guy who wrote that article on his a few weeks back and let him know his parts problems are solved!

    • 0 avatar

      Hy Mike,
      That was my Charade and my article. I’m frantically looking for anything in these pictures I might need. Everything on here looks pretty worn or doesn’t match. Luckily, my Dai doesn’t really need anything yet…… Thanks for remembering me!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The guy from the story the other day with the pristine one might want some parts off of this.

    • 0 avatar

      Hy orey,
      That was my Charade and my article. I’m frantically looking for anything in these pictures I might need. Everything on here looks pretty worn or doesn’t match. Luckily, my Dai doesn’t really need anything yet…… Thanks for remembering me!

  • avatar
    PCP

    Test drove the GTti end of the eighties. It actually was a brillant little car, then. Turboed 100HP for approx 1’900 lbs. Lotsa fun. Similar to the Suzuki Swift GTi of those times.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Not one, not two, not three, but FOUR cylinders from your friends at Daihatsu!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That’s too many! Too much power and fuel consumption! Who can offer me just three in 1990?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Why your friends at Daihatsu, of course!

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Oh good!

          Who else at that time, Geo and Suzuki probs. Was Yugo still around in 90, I’m thinking no.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Grango should know.

            “A revived Yugo GV Plus with fuel injection was introduced in 1990, along with the long awaited Yugo Cabrio. The Cabrio was priced twice as high as the hatchback, and offered an electric folding top, heated glass rear window, automatic folding quarter windows, and an aerodynamic body kit, which included fog lamps. The first shipment of Cabrios were not fuel injected though. Following it’s bankruptsy, Yugo America became a subsidary [sic] of Zastava, rather than a seperate [sic] organization. The 1991 models were the last to be imported, they came with larger fuel tanks, better seats, a better steering wheel angle, and automatic transmissions. Previously, all Yugos came with a manual transmission.”

            http://www.inet.hr/~bpauric/epov.htm

            “Many mechanics and even Zastava factory workers agree that the “best” Yugos ever built were built between 1988 and early 1991. Quality control was good, high standards were set in terms of plastic quality, seat cloth, and “a well screwed together” interior. Paint and rust coatings were also well done during that period, as evidenced by many cars still showing no signs of rust and tear of the seats, or major engine issues, after more than twenty years. 1989 was considered a “golden year” for Yugos because almost 200,000 were built that year, and many can still be seen on the road today. Also cars were usually branded Yugo instead of Zastava during that period, because the company was taking pride in its (at the time) good sales and reputation established in the export markets, especially in the United States. In 1990 a batch of 450 cars with automatic transmission and air conditioning was shipped to the United States. With political problems starting in 1991, quality dropped significantly, coming to such low standards such as plastic parts of the dashboard not fitting correctly.”

            EPA strikes again!

            “In 1990, Yugo America introduced an EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) version of the YUGO GVX to replace the less expensive carbureted fuel system. It arrived too late as the result of a recall by the United States Environmental Protection Agency of over 126,000 vehicles sold in the United States due to a failure to meet exhaust emissions. The recall effectively caused Yugo America to cease importation and fold in 1992. The faulted emission system used an “emissions” carburetor of outdated design, a two-way catalyst that required an air pump, and an EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculator) valve; the outdated, power-reducing application of this equipment on an already under-performing drivetrain was one of the major problems that caused the vehicles to get a reputation for poor drivability and the inability to meet emission standards.”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zastava_Koral

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Frends.

            Thanks for a post of such useful information for Yugos’ last days in American States. Even though the recall has a “damnpen effect” on a sale possibility, they remain a popular option here for some people who are not a Bank Manager (BM) or Wall Street person of The Country (you know, old Michael Douglas ha ha!).

            Almost it seem today there is a replacement for such a car of mass appealing to the lower sector of price and income graphic. Dacia!

            Either way, all of them are a build of the same quality as before, though – no convertible I fear. Perhaps ask if there is build chart of option for special roof rectangle panel instead (not a tee-top, a square-top, ha.)!

            Grango.r.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Grango, what do the people in Yugoslavia think of younger people in the US leasing fancy cars they can’t afford instead of buying Dacias?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            28’Freind;;

            I think for those people of USA where it’s possible to sign a line and take on such a payments of non-obscure amounts of money…

            Here the people who have a young age and also a young wallet (green – green!) that it is more possible for them to have a look down at local Bank Branch. They see a figure within a accounts – they say “oh, maybe if I can’t select the high trim, more likely to have able to cut monthly cheque to dealership bill! Ok!”

            Then, less is more, because less is ability! Makes sense, I hope – sometimes it is hard to think of overall group opinions of A Country, but then you can also check of a sales figures for reassurance of a Grango sentience!

            GR–

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Yay, thanks frend.

  • avatar
    2KAgGolfTDI

    Back in 1991, I owned a Ford Festiva, and my roommate had a Charade DX. We could park both cars in a one-car garage.

  • avatar

    Such poor naming choices as Achieva, Charade (and any name in the plural form) always make me wistfully recall learning years ago about the lists of potential car names the poetess Marianne Moore compiled for Ford in the 1950s. ‘Edsel’ was chosen over her suggestions.

    http://www.listsofnote.com/2012/02/utopian-turtletop.html

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Looks like some mechanical failure was not worth repairing.

    • 0 avatar

      It looks like an auction inventory sticker on the upper right of the windshield, so it could have been a donation or trade-in that got sent to auction. Although those usually have the keys with them.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    THANK YOU for all the great replies ! .

    I love tiny vehicles so the basic idea of ‘ penalty box ‘ is lost on me .

    In the 1980’s when this was new I was happily driving my old VW Beetle and not minding it was slow cramped and noisy ~ because I maintained it properly the heater was fine even in the 30°’s temp. wise , everyone always said it went WAY too fast although the tiny 1100 C.C. 36HP engine took a while to get it up to 75 MPH .

    I remember the little three cylinder putt-putts , folks seemed to love then , I kept driving my old junk and didn’t realize how much I was missing until SWMBO told me to buy her a Mercedes =8-) .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    05lgt

    “What, no Japanese-English dictionaries were available when they were brainstorming this one?”
    Nah, it’s just another page in the book titled “Never Trust Contract Mar-Com”. They pitched 2 good ideas and this one to make it look like they worked hard, and the stupid maternal copulating customer picked it anyway. Well, can’t admit I threw out a bogus idea just to make the others look good, so … Charade it is.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    slogan- “youll think the world of diahatsu”

    apparently nobody thought much of diahatsu. there was a daihatsu dealer at the cerritos auto mall. it was in some awkward corner that no other dealers were on, and used to be a paint store.

    name a low volume brand, and that place has sold it. diahatsu, daewoo, suzuki, isuzu, now mitsubishi. its the place where brands go to die.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      ? Any one have a pic of the company logo ? .

      Yesterday I was cleaning out the truck and found a brandy new leatherette tool kit with metric tools in it , all have a stylized ‘ D ‘.

      -Nate

  • avatar

    As the owner of the clean Charade featured about two weeks ago, this junkyard find is very ironic. I’m really surprised to see that this one made it to 2016 as well. It really doesn’t look to be in terrible shape.

    They are tough durable cars. I met a fellow Daihatsu Charade owner about a year ago after spotting his white one in a parking lot on the California Central Coast. His had over 300k miles on it and he drove it 50+ miles daily. It makes my 55k mile one look like a youngin’.

    I’m happy to see the Charade love on here! And agreed, the Charade nameplate was pretty bad. I sometimes feel silly saying that my car is a “joke”

  • avatar
    davew833

    This car was sold through a Copart salvage auction in Hayward, CA on 11/19/15. It was sold as not running or driving, which means they couldn’t start it when it arrived on the lot. Damage is listed as “normal wear”. It’s not listed as a donated vehicle, and it did have keys when it was sold. It probably went for scrap value, which is between $100- $200 right now.

    I’ve seen some Copart cars listed as “not running” for ridiculously simple reasons– I bought an ’87 Honda Accord a few months ago as a non- runner and it just had a bad main fuse. $4 and 15 minutes later it was running and drivable.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Here is the step-van version based on the slightly smaller Kei vehicle. Perfect for a food business.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Daihatsu-Other-Mira-Step-Van-/191818862087?forcerrptr=true&hash=item2ca94b8e07:g:cSkAAOSwPc9W2I4s&item=191818862087

  • avatar
    markvillanueva

    Do the parts are for sale? I’m interested with the odometer and the garnish on the back with the word charade

Read all comments

Recent Comments

  • tankinbeans: They will, in three years, when the car maker will give less than 2 shakes about their preferences....
  • highdesertcat: Brought a smile to my face since Americans will continue to buy Ford because it is the only American...
  • highdesertcat: ILO, I believe Ford has more to offer Toyota in the North American market than Nissan and/or Mitsu....
  • DenverMike: “…all companies matter…” I’ll make an exception for GM. GM is just the...
  • Jerome10: I don’t know if Farley is the right guy. I’m skeptical. However, I do know….Hackett was...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber