The Daihatsu Charade DeTomaso 926R is the Group B car you've never heard of
Time for a history lesson. The owner of legendary mid-engined supercar company DeTomaso ( Alessandro DeTomaso) liked to spread his wealth a bit. So he decided to start another car company called Innocenti which essentially rebodied Austin Minis.
Using the legendary A-series pushrod engine until 1983, DeTomaso decided to switch to the Daihatsu 993cc three-cylinder which also came with a wonderful invention called a turbocharger. The Japanese supermini company then saw this connection and couldn't resist forming a partnership to ooze some Italian styling into its production line, much like Nissan with Alfa Romeo.
And so was born the Charade DeTomaso which was effectively a Charade with some DeTomaso stickers. Skip forward to 1985 however and a serious injection of performance was pumped into the docile little JDM hatchback.
The standard Turbo had been fairly successful in 1600-2000cc rallying (adjusting for equivalence rules), but Daihatsu launched the Charade DeTomaso 926R at the 1985 Tokyo Motor Show.
Sporting a 926cc DOHC four-valve engine (a tuned version of the twincam unit that would be seen in the next generation of Charades), the 926R produced 116bhp, more than enough to propel the 800kg mass down the toughest of rally stages in its lowest of tunes. The three-cylinder was also placed in a mid-engined configuration like many of its bespoke rallying contemporaries, nestled behind the front seats.
It was designed specifically for Group B rallying, with Daihatsu feeling fairly confident about sweeping away any of the sub-2-litre competition. A small production run was set to be made after the prototype's launch but sadly it wasn't to be due to the collapse of the Group B era as an entity.
Group A would have been the company's next option but they weren't keen on the 5000-car homologation rules needed to have the 926R competing. Sadly then, this rear-wheel drive, mid-engined homologation special never came to be, despite journalists at the launch praising the car for its performance after some initial testing.
Much like the Mitsubishi Starion Turbo and Nissan MID4, the 926R was yet another piece of JDM that could have very easily become an icon but sadly the car gods thought otherwise. RIP little Charade.