Cohort Sighting: Daihatsu Charade – Smallest Production Car With Opera Windows


Much has been made about the unfortunately chosen name of Daihatsu’s B-segment staple, but in the case of this first-generation three-door, there’s room for some extra scrutiny.  Thanks to RiveraNotario for bringing this interestingly styled variant of the Charade to my attention.


Unlike the subtle, high-quality third generation machine sold in the US, the styling of the “Runabout” coupe, sold from 1978 until 1983, really was a farce.  Coming just after the height of the Brougham Epoch and during the US’s custom van boom, its relatively conventional two-box styling was tarnished by extra windows in its C-pillars in what must’ve been an attempt to convey either playfulness or sophistication.  It very well could’ve gone over well in the marketplace, but it’s a detail which nevertheless clashes with the rest of the car.  The five-door has a much more straightforward look.

Screenshot 2014-04-26 00.52.54

What do you think?  Was Daihatsu aiming for a custom van lookalike, or was the Runabout more of a nod to supermini buyers who aspired to an American luxury machine?

Screenshot 2014-04-26 00.57.15


Related reading: 1989 Daihatsu Charade and 1977 Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon