Fancy a McLaren Elva, but it's too big for you? Daihatsu got you covered
This kind of madness is what we miss in these modern times
I remember Daihatsu in Europe as this quirky Far Eastern car, rare and somewhat exotic. Imprinted in my childhood memories is the ludicrous Daihatsu Charade GTti, a small three cylinder turbocharged pocket rocket (three cylinder turbo, Yaris GR, rings a bell?) that was the fastest 1.0 liter car back in the day and the first production car to go over 100 PS per liter of displacement. I specifically remember a guy from my town in the late 90's owning one - when the turbo kicks in (eventually), the damn thing spun its wheels in 3rd if your tires weren't brand new.
Same as this one
Anyway, those are my memories, but the reality today is that Daihatsu has become this brand of rebadged Toyotas, or producing small cars for Toyota. After YRV Turbo, I can't remember a single Daihatsu being worth mentioning.
But the lunacy is still out there - at the 2021 Digital Tokyo Auto Salon, Daihatsu really spread some joy into these Covid years. Behold the 5 crazy tuned kei-cars, which bring back the mantra that money isn't always aligned with happiness.
1. Hijet Truck Sportza Ver
Why not take a commercial kei-van, chop off some roof and windows and make it go sideways? How hard can it be? I love this thing, a sort of a McLaren Elva kei-car pickup truck thing with Jackie Chan stickers all over it. It even says 'Light you up' on its side. Wonderful little thing. And it comes with a manual, sending the power to the rear. All the 50 (probably) PS of it. It's a drift machine. It is. It really is.
2. Copen Spyder Ver
Remember Copen? Well, it's grown up to be more serious than ever. This one looks way less silly than the above - a go-kart dimensions, small chopped windshield, coupled with BBS wheels, tuned suspension and a turbocharged 660cc engine, I'd say one could have real fun with this.
3. Taft Crossfield Ver
I'll start with the name. It stands for 'Tough & Almighty Fun Tool'. Hilarious and brilliant. This version appears to have been lifted, given a roof rack, bumper guards, tow hooks, and some chunky off-road rubber. Looks like fun to me. Almighty? I'll nod my head not to hurt its feelings.
4. Camper Ver
If you're more of fellow that likes countryside to sleep on it, instead of offroading it, this is the one - the kei-camper. Friendly face, a huge roof-rack, and what appears to be a tent to the back of the Hijet truck. It can easily accommodate one people. Maybe. But, hey, it's still a RWD Hijet. If you can't sleep in it, drift it across the field. What could possibly go wrong?
5. Thor Premium Ver with D-Sport
I don't like this one. Besides the bold name, nothing special, just a tuned kei-car, but it comes with a 100 PS engine and a CVT. Fun. Not.
We needed this. Cars are polarizing between hyper-production of hyper-stuff for hyper-rich and boring mainstream cars that have basically lost any kind of quirky identity and sense of fun. These made my week.
Thank you, Daihatsu.