Polished Stone: 1991 Daihatsu Rocky SE

Dreary commutes in mundane vehicles got you down?  Tired of coal rollers filling your disrespected Civic with particulate?  Don’t mind spending endless time explaining that your SUV isn’t named after an immortalized Hollywood prize fighter?  Find this 1991 Daihatsu Rocky SE for sale in Columbia, SC for $6,500 via craigslist.

In 1987 Daihatsu decided it was high time to get a foot in the US auto market.  How hard could it be to peddle Japanese built vehicles to a country with strict foreign import quotas and a looming financial crisis?  Turns out, a lot harder than they thought.  After only 5 years of presence, Daihatsu pulled out and high tailed it back to Japan, but not before leaving about 50,000 units on American soil.  The Rocky was one of those models, and it managed to carve out a chuck of the compact SUV enthusiast market.

Rocky’s came equipped with a 1.6L four mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.  While not a powerhouse, it did have enough oomph to provide some off-roading adventures while delivering decent MPG.  Although parts could be difficult to source, the engine compartment has loads of space for wrenching.  The seller does state there may be some problems with the front axle.

Interiors were similar to the Suzuki Samurai’s of the day, nothing special but typical for a compact SUV.  Considering the mileage listed, this example looks downright pampered.  I suspect any off-road duties encountered were limited to golf greens and and sandy beaches, if any at all.  

If you enjoy roaming off the beaten path and are looking for a unique way to do it, this could be the ticket. Maybe you just want an obscure compact SUV for beach cruising.  Either way, Rocky’s are hard to find and average condition lies somewhere between beater & scrap metal.  Whatever you do with it, you would certainly get a lot of curious onlookers trying to figure out “what exactly is it?”   

See another preserved unicorn worthy of endless inquiries?  E-mail us here: tips@dailyturismo.com

When not receiving complaints of “distracted by cars…again” from his wife, Glenn can be found in the kitchen whipping up exotic cuisine and nourishing nosh.