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.
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!
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
The next issue is engine management.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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