This weekend is a Daihatsu Charade weekend. The Toyota-owned, often overlooked Japanese manufacturer has turned out a lot of interesting vehicles – and Daihatsu is also the oldest Japanese car maker, a fact that should not be forgotten. The Charade is a nameplate that has stuck with the maker for quite a long time, as the first ones were built in 1977.
When the Charade first hit the market, it came with round headlights. Combined with the Japanese-spec fender mirrors, the nose is incredulous looking. And if you think it sort of looks banana-shaped from the side…
The carmaker must have had the same idea. If you happened to glance at the marketing material circa ’77, you would see the cars Daihatsu benchmarked as rivals for the Charade: Renault 5/LeCar, Peugeot 104, Polo 86, Fiat 127. Which one tickles your fancy?
The trim levels ranged from vinyl everything to rather well appointed or sporty.
My favorite is the coupe version with opera windows punched in the rear pillars.
The engine choices for the Charade were both triples, a 843cc or a roughly litre one.
I have a strong affinity for slight cars like this, as it feels like they weigh nothing, yet they still manage to cram a lot of character into such a small footprint. Depending of the market, the first generation Charades either struggled long or rusted through mercifully quickly. You can still find some in barn condition, hoarded away for a more delicate time.