I’m the proud owner of two Daihatsus - a 1991 L201 Mira and a 2003 L251 Charade.
I bought both of them within the last six months, but Daihatsus have been in the family for years - the two main cars I remember Dad driving while I was growing up were both Daihatsus (Terios and Applause), and I also previously owned a 1990 L201 Handivan which sadly got written off by someone pulling out from a side street without properly looking.
I replaced the Handivan with a Suzuki Jimny, which was a good car. In December last year I saw this red Mira advertised for sale 500km away in Wagga Wagga, which reminded me of my old Handivan. So I flew down there and picked it up.
Driving the Mira 500km from Wagga Wagga back home to Sydney was…not great. Revving its little arse off doing 100km/h. Its last owner fabricated a custom exhaust which is extremely bloody loud (sounds good though), so I actually had to stop and buy earplugs to stay sane on the drive back! The wheels are a tad too large for my liking. I mean, they look better than plain old steel wheels, but the guards scraping on bumps and corners is annoying.
So anyway, I sold my Jimny to get funds for a working holiday in Canada, and had plans to keep my Mira in storage for when I got back. I left in February and then COVID-19 came along in mid-March and I decided I needed to come home, around a year or two earlier than planned.
After emerging from two weeks self isolation at the start of April, I bought my Charade about a month ago off some French backpackers trying to get home amidst the pandemic. My plan is to have the Mira as the ‘weekender’ and the Charade as the daily driver to do errands and carry people around in.
I was really surprised at how refined and comfortable the Charade’s ride is! I could certainly see myself driving across the country in it (when it’s allowed again…), something that I wouldn’t really look forward to in the Mira.
I’ve got things in mind for the Mira. Eventually I’d like to try an EV conversion project with it, but that’ll be way down the track. I’ve had a few niggling problems which I can live with.
It seems to suffer from vapour lock on extremely hot summer days, and I suspect that the fuel pump is either not producing enough pressure to overcome fuel vapour pressure in the fuel lines from the tank to the engine bay, or the fuel pump might just be on its way out. The symptoms I’m experiencing point to the fuel bowl emptying out before enough fuel can get pumped into it. I might replace the fuel pump to see if that cures it.
The sudden on/off acceleration with the vapour lock (trying to get it home) basically stuffed the wheel hub splines and I ended up having to buy a new wheel hub because the splines attaching the wheel to the CV were completely gone. Fortunately Amayama actually still sells the genuine Daihatsu wheel hub, so that was done and dusted within a few days.
There’s also extreme torque steer which has existed from when I bought it. I had a look under the car and a buggered tie rod end appears to be the culprit. I’ll be fixing that tomorrow morning, hopefully.
It has a factory air conditioning system! It was working OK when I bought it (not great), but now it just feels like it’s lost all its gas. I’m thinking of just DIYing LPG as a refrigerant (I have all the gear) in the not too distant future.
The heater/fan controls act a bit strangely. The temperature control seems to have no effect, but everything behind the dash seems to be working. Feet/demist always comes out as hot, and face always comes out cold. I’m guessing the mechanism must be broken somehow, so that’s another thing to put on my list to fix.
The brake pedal feels a little firm for my liking. I’ve always suspected a vacuum leak causing problems, but I’ll be checking to see if this is the case soon.
The Charade has no problems at all. Everything working as it should. That’s Daihatsu quality.