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Charade Shock!

Think that all late-model Daihatsu Charades are boring? Not this one!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • G200 1994 TE Charade
  • 1-litre turbo GTTi engine
  • Cosmetics, wheels, brakes
  • 300 per cent power hike
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A hot late-model Daihatsu Charade? Does such a thing even exist, you ask? Sure they do – you just have to look really, really hard!

In Australia, Daihatsu offered go-fast enthusiasts the G11 and G100 Charade turbo models from 1984 to 1988. Powered by a carb-fed turbocharged three-pot, these gruff li’l critters were zappy enough to cause some confusion at the traffic lights and provided a heap of fun for the owner. All good things come to an end, though... Despite being ruggedly built, most 1980s factory Charade Turbos have had the life crushed out of them years ago.

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Look back on those ‘80s turbo days with fondness because Daihatsu Australia has since refused to give the Australian public a decent hi-po Charade. (The 1.5-litre F2 Charade was a pretty lame attempt). If you want a cheap and cheery Charade with grunt you’ve gotta build your own...

This 1994 G200 Charade TE was originally equipped with a 1.0-litre naturally aspirated three-pot generating 38kW - barely enough to propel the sub-1000kg G200 against a strong headwind. When the owner – Jeremy Henderson of Sydney - got tired of his Charade’s lifelessness, he began throwing some breathing mods at the factory motor. A set of extractors, a high-flow exhaust, Ram-pod air intake and a hot cam gave a surprising lift in performance - about 40kW at the wheels on MRT Performance’s Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno. But it was nowhere near enough to keep Jeremy content.

The answer? Try a CB70 twin-cam, 12-valve EFI intercooled turbo engine from the Japanese-market G100 Charade GT-ti!

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The GT-ti engine is based on the same design as the G200's original atmo 1.0-litre, which makes the conversion, well, achievable. It’s not a swap-job, though, since the G200 was never released with the GT-Ti twin-cam. Brett from MRT explains the driver’s side upper engine mount needs modification and the fuel system needs to be redone from scratch. Rather than fumble about trying to fit a high-pressure pump and modify the standard fuel tank, MRT bolts in the entire (baffled) tank assembly from a more upmarket fuel-injected G200 model. This goes in complete with the standard EFI-type pump and high-pressure fuel lines.

The next issue is engine management.

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Since this particular car never came fitted with EFI there’s a lot of wiring loom work that needs to be done. And then there’s the engine management itself. In this instance, MRT wired in a Link programmable ECU to control the standard injectors and the dizzy ignition system.

While the engine was being installed, it was also the perfect time to make a couple of additional high-performance mods.

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The air intake arrangement is easy-breathing thanks to a barrel-style foam filter on the end of a custom polished induction pipe and the exhaust emits an unusual beat from its MRT twin-dump pipe, 2 1/4-inch mandrel mid-section and twin outlet rear section. A GFB twin-trumpet blow-off valve serves to keep the factory IHI turbocharger spinning after gear changes.

An MRT TMS3 boost control unit allows Jeremy to switch between 8 and 16 psi of manifold pressure. Cooling the charge is a compact MRT fabricated air-to-air intercooler mounted next to the radiator.

There are some hurdles that need to be cleared when it comes to the driveline in a GT-ti engine’d G200.

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The GT-ti usually comes bolted to a heavy-duty gearbox with beefy axles and dedicated front hubs. The only problem is, none of it can be easily made to fit into the G200... The MRT solution has been to fit a unique flywheel, clutch and pressure plate combo that allows the standard G200 3-cylinder gearbox to be retained. Sure, it’s not as strong as the GT-ti ‘box but it does last so long as the owner is sensible. Jeremy has had no problems so far, despite a power increase of more than 300 percent over factory...

That’s right, you’re now talkin’ about 100kW at the front wheels!

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The three-pot G200 Charade is a plain-Jane looker in standard form, but Jeremy has given his a much-needed boost in on-road presence. The standard steel wheels were chucked to make space for 16-inch ACB rims wearing 205/40 Falken tyres. Peer behind these wheels and you’ll see the slotted discs and aftermarket pads. The suspension was also brought down using quality lowered springs and Koni adjustable shocks. An even lower ride height was used previously, but the exhaust tips kept scraping on the ground when entering steep driveways. The only other suspension-related mod is an aluminium front strut brace.

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Inside, the base G200 is also pretty minimalist - there isn’t even a tacho... To avoid bouncing off the rev limiter on a regular occasion, Jeremy has installed an AutoMeter monster tacho and shift light down near the base of the console - away from prying eyes. The horrible standard steering wheel and gear knob have also departed in favour of a Momo fighter-style wheel and aluminium gear knob. A short shifter is also installed. Tunes now come from Pioneer single CD/12-stack head unit with four 6-inch splits. MRT’s digital turbo timer is another unusual sight on board a G200...

Having enjoyed turbo torque for the last couple of months, Jeremy is happy beyond his wildest dreams. "It’s unbelievable," he says, "it’s just impossible to think that it’s still only a one-litre. I’d strongly recommend this conversion to anyone."

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Jeremy hasn’t had the chance to take the car down the quarter mile because he has a couple of fine-tuning details to finish. We’re told the standard injectors are currently maxing out at 16 psi boost, so there’s a bigger set of squirters on their way. Once these have been fitted and tuned, you can expect to see this little beast ripping down the track with 20 psi of steam!

If you live in Sydney, make sure you take a camera the next time you head out to the drags. Chances are you’ll never again see a Charade haul butt like this!


MRT (Middleton Rally Team) +61 2 9809 2110

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