Rumor: Toyota and Suzuki Developing Another Lightweight Sports Car

Toyota and Suzuki are rumored to be collaborating on another lightweight, mid-engine sports car with some help from Daihatsu. While nothing has been confirmed, the model is presumed to be a successor to Toyota’s MR2 (pictured) – as the automaker has offered numerous hints in the past that the little two-seater (or something inspired by it) would eventually enter into production.

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Daihatsu Charade SE Hatchback

Daihatsu is one of the oldest motor-vehicle manufacturers in Japan, though it's now a division of that relative newcomer, Toyota. On the streets of Japan today, you'll see Daihatsu kei cars and trucks everywhere (including such fine models as the Taft, Canbus, and Thor), but Daihatsu's foray into the North American market didn't go so well. When I saw a Daihatsu appear in the online inventory of an independent self-service yard south of Denver a couple of months back, I hopped in my kei van and got right over there to document it.

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Rare Rides: The Obscure Automeccanica Daihatsu Zebra From 1985

Today’s Rare Ride started off as a tiny Japanese hatchback, and morphed into a utility vehicle produced on another continent by a Greek car company.

Let’s check out the Zebra, by Automeccanica.

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Rare Rides: The 1992 Daihatsu Leeza Spider, It's Tearing Me Apart

Oh hi, Mark. Today’s Rare Ride is a very rare version of Daihatsu’s Leeza Kei car. It’s tiny, turbocharged, and one of only 200 made.

No more The Room jokes, I promise.

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Rare Rides: The Sturdy and Rare Daihatsu Rocky, From 1990
Today’s Rare Ride is a little off-road truck that hails from the era when a single SUV could be small, light, cheap, and capable. It’s an oft-forgotten Daihatsu Rocky, from 1990.
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Seismic Activity Hampering Japanese Auto Production

A strong earthquake shook western Japan on Monday morning. The 6.1-magnitude quake destroyed property, left tens of thousands without power, stranded commuters, and disrupted Osaka’s industrial sector. Honda, Mitsubishi Motors, and Toyota’s Daihatsu unit all have production facilities in the area and were forced to shut down temporarily.

While Daihatsu remained confident its facilities could be reopened later in the day, Honda’s Suzuka factory in the Mie prefecture is one of the oldest plants on its roster. Despite being modernized over the years, it might not have been able to withstand the vibrations as well as newer facilities. The company said it would remain shuttered as employees perform safety and spot checks.

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Rare Rides: The 1991 BMW Bertone Freeclimber, or BMW's First Actual SUV

We’ve been on a bit of a continental streak lately here at Rare Rides. First, the Cadillac Allanté showed us American engineering with Italian design. Then, the Gordon-Keeble coupe from 1965 mixed British creativity and funding with Italian and American components.

Today we’ve got a different trifecta: A Japanese design, rebodied by the Italians, then powered by a German engine. Open up some shampanya, and let’s learn about the Freeclimber.

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Rare Rides: This 1990 Daihatsu Charade is the Essence of Car

I really enjoy encountering the cheap and cheerful compacts of the past. Their lack of technological complexity, superb integrity in exterior design, and complete absence of flim-flam is refreshing.

Our Rare Ride today is such a compact, from a company many in North America don’t know. It’s the Daihatsu Charade.

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Daihatsu Charade SX

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.

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Reader Review: 1988 Daihatsu Charade

(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.

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Toyota Recalls 57K Over Takata Airbags

Toyota issued Thursday a global recall of 57,000 vehicles affected by the Takata airbag crisis.

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Crapwagon Outtake: The Island Of Misfit Brands

Daihatsu’s American foray lasted just four short years, from 1988-1992. Roughly ten Daihatsu cars are still for sale – not bad, considering they probably didn’t sell many more than that in total.

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Daihatsu Revives The Copen

Daihatsu’s diminutive sports car is back after a two year absence, with a new look, but the same 660 cc displacement.

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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?

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Daihatsu Concept Kopen, A Revived Copen To Take On Honda S660

Now that Honda seems to be reviving the Beat kei sports car in the form of the S660, to be shown to the public for the first time next month at the Tokyo Auto Show, Daihatsu has revealed that it will be also showing a small kei roadster with a retractable hardtop as well.

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  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.