Follow the Liter: 1989 Daihatsu Charade

By Matt — One of the undervalued thrills in life is trying to wring the last bit of speed out of something designed with a completely intent in mind. Daily tasks like passing or merging, taken for granted by those who drive supercars in excess of one-hundred-forty horsepower, are life events requiring significant planning ahead, followed by the feeling of heroic accomplishment in the face of adversity. Go flat-to-the flo’ everywhere you go in this 1989 Daihatsu Charade on San Francisco craigslist for $2,500 or trade.

Never really having the power to substantially overwhelm its paper mâché 155/80/13 tires, the Charade would require only a slight throttle lift or brake brush to make corner entry in stock form. Given the personalization of Charades is typically limited to tweety bird floormats and mismatched hubcaps, a Charade with DT-approved suspension mods, some decent rubber, and tasteful exterior upgrades is a rare treat. The low ride height and BBS wheel choice is pretty spot on, both drawing attention to a few of the Charade’s interesting lines, such as the swaged rear wheel cutout and low, full width tail lights.

The aural experience of an imbalanced 3 cylinder gradually approaching fuel cut adds some pleasure to the drama of just trying to remain among the living while passing inattentive motorists, who, though completely unaware, are also accelerating at the same rate as you. Unlike you in the aforementioned situation, the 53hp one-liter triple is fairly low stress and should remain alive for a long time.

The interior looks pretty decent and it actually has A/C. The steering wheel is mismatched, or maybe completely faded to a different color; this may actually be one of the very few situations where it’s OK to put an aftermarket steering wheel on a non-racecar.

See a better way to turn every commute into a competitive event?

Matt, a self-proclaimed bottom-feeder of the classic car market, spends
half of his time buying cars, half of his time retrieving them, and the
remaining third on keeping them on the road.