What is it about Daihatsu

As we speak, I’m watching the Mighty Car Mods special they made in Malaysia. For those of you who haven’t seen it: I will not spoil anything major. For those of you who didn’t know about it:

Anyway, they bought an L7 in Malaysia to compete in a 24h race on the national F1 track. After taking the car for a quick spin, they start to take the car apart and prep it for the race. Marty talks about how they’ve been planning it for years, and that (at that point) everything goes to plan. You could see that a lot of people present were familiar with the car or what they were doing. Not that no one ever became familiar with any other car, but it was just something I noticed.
Later, after the car starts, they talk about how it runs, how it sounds etc., and then I really started thinking.

I could see a certain enthusiasm on their faces which I totally recognized: some sort of Daihatsu smile. But I can’t really work out what it is about Daihatsu’s. i’m a very rational person, so sorry if I’m going to burst your optimistic bubble. Since I co-founded the Dutch L7 club, I made a lot of friends because of that club. And with that, the majority of my friends are Daihatsu enthousiasts. However, I also have a lot of friends that are car-peeps, but not Dai-peeps, and I find myself quite often in a situation where I have to explain what it is about Daihatsu’s, but not quite can. Let’s break it down. My “expertise” is in L7’s, and it’s also the most common Dai in MCM, so this part will be a bit more “what is it about L7’s”, but most will be applicable for a lot of Daihatsu’s in general.

Engine: a 1.0 3 cylinder making 56/58 hp (or so they say). A thing they have going for them is their torque curve, since it hits peak torque pretty early, making them feel “torque-y”. Above that, “we” think they sound great.
Different POV: it’s a 1.0 3 cyil making not even 60hp at the crank. There are heaps of other 3 cyl cars, even with more power often. Heaps of cars of this size came with more engine in general.

Chassis: with a weight of only ~700kg, there’s not much weight the engine has to pull, which is great. Less weight also means less load transfer, which means you can get a decent amount of corner speed (roughly speaking) and better fuel economy. Also, the boxy shape and relatively long wheelbase gives great space for this class.
Different POV: it’s just a small hatchback and that’s not especially rare.

Suspension/steering: In the front we have a McPherson setup with probably one of the simplest LCA’s mankind has ever seen, linked by an equally simple ARB, piercing throug the LCA’s, no droplinks whatsoever. In the rear we have a torsion bar / semi-independent rear axle which is also pretty much as basic as axles get. In my personal opinion a bit of an underdog, as this setup has (theoretically) no camber change in bump, but does have it in corners and can also have a bit of passive steering, which helps rotating the car a bit. Without power steering you get quite a lot of feedback through the steering wheel as well, plus it’s not that bad in terms of how heavy it is.
Different POV: the suspension is fragile, not refined at all and the ride quality isn’t what you’d call “comfortable”. Is it terrible? No. But after I drove some other small cars it became clear that there was room for improvement. No power steering is poverty, with power steering it’s too light with no feeling at all

Interior: Uhm… simple without unnecessary things, I guess? Pretty decent equipped, depending on the options you got and what part of the world you live in. Safety is pretty good considering the age and class.
Different POV: it’s rattly, noisy, seating (position) and pedal placement isn’t for people who are a bit taller or like to sit comfortably in a car.

Quality: will start everyday. Daihatsu’s in general don’t have a lot of common issues preventing you from just turning the key and go.
Different POV: the term reliable is used quite often, but is also a matter of opinion. Yes, they will start everyday, but at times that comes with a cloud of blue, oily smoke out of the exhaust. And yes, they are light, but there’s something about a car maintaining its weight over the years and not get any lighter on its own (I’m talking about the forbidden brown metal disease). Maybe that’s not a reliability thing, but it’s not very durable either. But most of all: if it’s not on there, it cannot break, which is the main cause for reliability in this case, I think.

Once again, some things are different for different models, but a lot of points are the same for different models coming from the small-car producer.

You see, I’m not trying to bash Daihatsu or anything, I’m just trying to point out that rationally, it’s easy to not like Daihatsu’s at all. And yes, of course, it’s mostly just taste. You can think Daihatsu’s are great, someone else thinks they’re shit, both based on how they feel about the cars and not based on arguments. One can never state that Daihatsu’s (or any kind of car, for that matter) are the greatest cars in the world. It’s not a fact, it’s an opinion, and (like buttholes) everyone has one.

Still, here I am, writing half a bible on a forum dedicated to Daihatsu, because apparently there are plenty of people who love the brand, so there has to be an answer to the question: what is it about Daihatsu?
I mentioned ‘taste’ earlier, and although I think you could narrow it down to a few rational arguments, there will never be “a” answer. If a few people would reply on this post, sharing their thoughts on what they think the answer is, chances are that their views are different. Or they are based on arguments similar to what I used earlier in this post, which were followed by some “different POV’s”, meaning that it would, again, come down to taste.

Here’s my final thought: there’s something about Daihatsu’s that makes them unique, but I don’t think it’s just a single thing you can point out. They have a certain character that appeals to us, and I think it’s a kind of no-nonsense mixed with being an inside extravert, or something like that. Wearing a standard suit to work, but with wildly colored socks on, that sort of stuff. As a matter of fact, I’m now wearing a merchandise sweater from a big dutch grocery store, go figure. I think a lot of Dutch people went for the no-nonsense aspect because they were affordable back then, and took the funkiness for granted. Fans of today with common sense, probably go for both. I also think the no-nonsense bit reflects to the people in the sense that no one will ever properly show off in a Daihatsu. People are well aware that Daihatsu’s aren’t necessarily loved by the general public, so why make yourself look like something you’re not? Just enjoy it yourself, that’s all you need.

I’m not really sure what got me into a position where I wrote such a long bit of shower thoughts, but since there’s not a lot of progress on behalf of my own projects and I felt like writing, I hope there’s someone who can appreciate it. I’m very happy that this community. Maybe needless to say, but I do want to emphasize that all of the above is mostly just my thoughts/opinions on things, I’m not saying that I’m right or that I’m only talking facts.

If you made it this far, I’d like to thank you for your commitment and patience. As a reward, here’s a picture of me and my sister in the back of the car that started it all for me.

Daihatsu Gran Move 1.6-16v CX from 2000, picture taken somewhere between 2006 and 2008


They are cheap and reliable. That’s what’s gotten me into Daihatsu’s. Cheap and easy to repair.

Now I really like Daihatsu’s also because they are so small and unimpressive. I just love it when some though guys thinks he’s the next Senna and there’s a small Daihatsu just patiently waiting for him to move over so that I can pas.

Imagine, you are driving with your buddy’s in your fartcannon vw golf and you have to explain how and why a Daihatsu is running circles around you.

And at the end of the day I pay less in taxes, insurance, fuel and maintenance.


Oddly enough, insurance was quite expensive for my L6, compared to what I pay for my Suzuki Wagon R, despite my L6 having a smaller engine than the R


I had already fallen in love with 3cyl engines and cars when I bought a Daewoo Matiz for a business I had and kept it when I closed the business.
I had to sell the matiz as I moved interstate.
After owning a Nissan 4wd and it failed miserably I cut my losses and just wanted a basic car. No Idea or care what brand. I tried a feroza 4wd and didn’t like it, I tried a lot of other cars.
Then I found an L200, It was in ok condition, needed some work but when I took it for a drive “This was it!” 3 cyl no guts no glory just a basic car that was over priced for that time.
So I bought it and that was the start of the Mods and the birth of my Daihatsu addiction.
Now as it is 2024 and I have had daihatsu’s since about 2009 I don’t think I will ever not have a daihatsu hiding somewhere in my life.
I love that most parts are not available and you have to be creative. I love being creative. I love uniqueness and I have seen more people smile getting out of a small Daihatsu than I have big cars with big HP with the stuff everyone does to them.

Don’t Live to Die
Live to Day
But always


I think the no-nonsense aspect is what does it for me personally.

The feeling I had in my Cuore is hard to replicate. And I do miss it a lot.

It’s this sort of raw experience. Pure simplicity; No power steering, no ABS. But also a (somewhat unbalanced) 3 cylinder that sounds way better than it really should… All that in a tiny silver box that looks kinda funky.

I think I made the experience even “worse” for myself by getting hard ass bucket seats (hard ass for real), a clunky shifter without bushings and coilovers on the setting “break your back”.

Comfort? Yes, in a sense. Can I explain it? No, not at all. But when people drove the car they had a smile on their face nonetheless. Just like me, every single day. Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned from all of this or something. I don’t know I’m just blabbing.


Having had experience in a lot of vehicles, and a lot of kei cars, I do have a few favourites and Daihatsu are one of them. Handi-vans to be clear :slight_smile: I do like Sukuki carrys and the 600 hatch and another good one is a Toyota 700
For me it comes down to the feel I get through my arse in the set.
With under powered cars, it’s how smooth you can be and knowing how to maintain your momentum. Being able to stick 10" x 8" golf cart tyres (and they a better weight rating then standard !!) on and the only limit from corner speed was being able to stay in the seat on right hand turns. Cornering harder than a mini

And having driven a few Kei vehicles, they are good on reliability and access to repair.
The simplicity is whats makes it a lot easier. I know one my L60 they thought about it and have small cutouts in the chassis and frame to be able to access certain bolts.
if you are too lazy to pick the engine out you can rebuild it totally in the engine bay. I have worked and may makes and have rarely seen this sort of thinking in anything. And you can pretty much tear the whole car apart with a dozen tools

And I like rocking a 600cc 2cyl that can just keep up to traffic and runs on a oily rag if you drive it right. On con is that in heavy traffic with a lot of trucks around you do feel a little nervous, but you do have the advantage of slipping into smaller spots.
Parkings a breeze in a city.

For a learner driver a Kei car is ideal, and even better for a first time P plater, very hard to get booked in one unless you do stupid things. They teach you how to drive. Both of mine did

And they are becoming very unique as the numbers dwindle and the manufacturer has folded