STARTER CLASSIC: Daihatsu Charade Turbo (1983-’85)

A super-charged super mini ahead of its time

Founded in 1907 by Hatsudoki Seizo as an engine manufacturer, Daihatsu is Japan’s oldest engine company. Vehicle production began in the Osaka area in 1960 and the company specialized in diesel mini trucks before expanding into automobiles; the first, a 1.0-liter four-cylinder sedan named Compagno Berlina.

In 1981 and 1982, Early Charades even took part in the Monte Carlo Rally and the East African Safari. In 1983, the Alfa Romeo factory in Britain took on a project that introduced the Daihatsu name to the South African car market.


Despite its tiny frame, the Charade’s neat packaging gave it a spacious interior with seating for five adults. The trunk offered 170 liters of packing space with folding rear seats that release 740 liters of usable space. The instrumentation is spartan; The turbo replaces a boost pressure gauge with a green light that only shows you that boost pressure is occurring, which is wonderfully quaint.

If it’s an old-school turbo gasoline engine with full-blown instrumentation that’ll blow your hair back, better take a look at the Uno Turbo.

STARTER CLASSIC Daihatsu Charade Turbo (1983-'85) (2)


The basic three-cylinder developed a modest 36 kW and 71 Nm of torque and weighed only 92 kg, but the turbo increased the wick of the three-in-line to 68 kW and model: Daihatsu Charade Turbo 105 Nm The mass of the turbo- The powered car weighs only 720 kg, which gives it a competitive power to weight ratio.

With a reinforced cylinder head, turbocharger, stronger pistons, harder crankshaft, oil cooler and larger radiator, it was good for a sprint time from zero to 100 km / h of 10.52 seconds. The transmission was shortened, but the final drive was lengthened to reach its top speed of 159 km / h at 5,000 rpm in top gear.

STARTER CLASSIC Daihatsu Charade Turbo (1983-'85) (2)

The compression ratio has been reduced from 9.5 to 8.0 to 1. In contrast to modern turbo engines, the Charade manages with a twin choke carburetor and a contact breaker ignition. One advantage of the miniaturized housing of the engine is that the lightweight IHI turbo has minimal lag. However, the conservative Japanese did not overload the engine and limited the maximum boost pressure to less than half a bar. No doubt some robot racers would have increased this.


MacPherson struts at the front and a handlebar axle with coil springs and Panhard rod at the rear were equipped with stabilizers at both ends. Steering was rack and pinion without assistance, and the brake disc / drums.


Turbo will be by far the most fun as long as the condition is acceptable. Proper maintenance would result in a worthwhile classic that can still turn some heads on shows and racetracks. Turbo overhaul has gotten cheaper over time, but some parts need to be imported. Standard models were the CX and CXL, with the latter adding metallic paint, alloy wheels, and sport seats.

For other turbos of the day, by the way, consider the Nissan Exa Turbo and Mitsubishi Tredia Turbo.

STARTER CLASSIC Daihatsu Charade Turbo (1983-'85) (2)


Very few survived, but thanks to the lack of serious rust offshore, you may be able to find one in time. Prices won’t be expensive as it is a compact niche product.


If we skim over the 1950 Fiat 500 with two cylinders and the DKW with its two-stroke three-cylinder engine, including the SAAB 93B, there were no other cars with fewer than four pistons. These days, the triple has seen a resurgence in popularity with soaring fuel prices. Fiat is even returning to its roots with a turbo twin. As a result, the Daihatsu was something of a trailblazer in the 1980s and the turbo very unusual for that time.

In addition to South Africa, production and assembly plants were set up in Zimbabwe and Kenya. In order to encourage more job opportunities, local contact has been set at 66%.

At the time the first two prototypes were tested locally – each covering 95,000 km – Roger McCleery was Alfa Romeo’s Marketing Director.

0 to 100 km / h: 10.52 seconds
Top speed: 159 km / h
Fuel index: 5.70 l / 100km (at 100km / h)
Price: R9 995
January 1985

Article written by Peter Palm

Pete first read CAR at the age of 12 and immediately began modifying his parents’ cars. Fascinated by engines, he studied mechanical engineering and in his free time worked on cars and painted them. He worked for SA Railways and Denel before moving to CAR.

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