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.
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.
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?