If you’re looking for a great entry level 80s classic, the Charade G11 Turbo should be on your list. It provides a simple and fun formula which has seen it develop a cult following here in Australia and around the world. This example is an original survivor car which has benefited from some recent engine enhancement work, but otherwise remains in factory original condition, and is offered at a very reasonable price for an appreciating classic.
The 1980s saw the introduction of many turbocharged performance and luxury cars, but such cars usually came with a hefty price tag. However, several companies began offering small capacity cheap performance cars sporting turbo technology, and Daihatsu’s weapon of choice for the sector was the Charade G11 Turbo.
Before the mid-1980s, Daihatsu Australia had never marketed a high performance vehicle, specialising only in basic passenger and commercial vehicles at affordable prices. But the company was active in motorsport and particularly in international rallying. Daihatsu developed a ‘Group A’ rally version of the G11 Charade, competed in the 1985 Safari rally, and had even prepared a mid-engine ‘Group B’ car just before that category was banned. These performance cars all carried modified versions of the 3-cylinder engine applied to the road car. This presence in motorsport meant that serious R & D formed the basis of the road going Charade Turbo.
The standard model G11 Charade used a 993cc engine called the ‘CB23’ producing 38kw of power. The G11 Charade Turbo was based on this same engine, but with its modifications was known as the ‘CB60’ motor. It was a joint venture between Daihatsu Japan and IHI-Hitachi, who supplied the tiny RHB32 turbocharger which at the time was one of the smallest in the world applied to a production car. The turbo pressurised a downdraft Aisan carburettor to around 7 psi. Due to the mild boost level, no form of intercooling was required, and the CB60 motor produced between 50 and 59kw from the factory (depending on the market).
Being an Australian market car, in factory form this example produced 50kw through a standard 5-speed manual box (with uprated clutch). However, the current owner has had some work done to the engine to generate some extra power. The head has been die grinded, lowering the engine’s compression. This enables the car to run with higher boost pressure (it is currently running happily at 10 PSI). Needless to say, this adds significantly to the car’s performance, particularly noting it weighs around 700kg. The current owner has also installed a period 80s turbo timer on the car.
In the handling department, there were also a number of enhancements applied to the turbo models. They were factory fitted with 13 x 5 inch hotwire style wheels (these had increased in width by half an inch over the series 1 turbo cars). The suspension was also upgraded. In the front, MacPherson struts received uprated springs, a solid 24mm anti-roll bar and a quicker ratio rack and pinion steering. Steering is not power assisted, but you don’t really need that in a car of 700kg. At the rear, a 21mm hollow sway bar and uprated springs were also applied.
On the outside the car retains its original silver metallic paint. Most of the paint and panels are in great condition, but there are a few small dents and scratches as you’d expect for a 35 year old car. The car also has its original “Turbo” stickers on the trunk lid and the black rear door rub strips on both sides. There are larger decal upgrades you can get for these cars if you want to make it clearer to others that it’s the Turbo. The rear bumper retains its original red insert, but on the front bumper it appears to be missing. There is also a small corner of the driver’s side front bumper that has broken off.
Inside, the car has original red and black cloth sports trim which presents in good condition for the age, and is very striking in appearance. It’s certainly a world apart from the trim applied to the standard Charade. Factory bucket seats were fitted to the turbo, and the red/black colour scheme also extends to the door cards. There is some fading in the colour on the top of the rear seats from the sun, and some general wear and tear as you would expect. For practicality, the current owner has installed central locking and air conditioning, and both systems work very well.
Anything on these cars can be easily replaced, and spare parts seem to be in plentiful supply on Ebay, Gumtree and Facebook marketplace (thanks to many Turbo cars being wrecked over the years). The number of these cars wrecked makes it all the more important to preserve the survivors, and thankfully most parts also have the benefit of being fairly affordable. This car is the perfect way to get into the 80s classic car market, at a very reasonable price.
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