Tuesday, January 5, 2010

1990 Daihatsu Rocky - 5800 Original Miles

I have seen more Bugattis (2) than I have seen Daihatsu Rockys (1). I have never driven either.

Daihatsu never got around to setting up dealerships in New England. They lasted for only five years (1988 - 1992) in the US.

The Rocky I saw was sitting at a low-end used car lot somewhere near Middletown, CT. It was about 5 years ago and I was on my way to dinner with my girlfriend at the time. I spotted the Rocky and did an abrupt u-turn just about the same time my girlfriend took a sip of her coffee. She spilled coffee down the front of herself. Oops.

The seller had no idea what he had and was obviously trying to get rid of it as quickly as he could. The windshield had the price of $2999.00 on it. As he was walking out of his little shack he was already saying that he "could do better" on the price. I walked around it for awhile, looked under it, popped the hood and generally checked it out. The seller had the keys and a plate in his hand. "Take it for a ride", he said about 6 times. I didn't, because A) I had no intention of buying it and felt bad about wasting the guy's time and B) My hungry, decidedly non-car-geek, coffee flavored girlfriend was silently fuming in my car. I thanked the guy for his time and told him I might be back (that was a lie). "$2000.00 cash, if you want it", he said as I was walking away.

I remember when Daihatsu announced its intention of selling cars in the US. The article I read said that they hoped BMW owners would buy their small, unfortunately named, Charade, as second cars. The Charade was a nondescript econo-box with a 3 cylinder engine and a few "luxury" features not usually found on cars in its class. Luxury touches or not, BMW owners, and most everyone else, stayed away from the car. (There was also an import quota at the time, which limited Daihatsu to selling 17,000 Charades per year in the US.)

The Rocky was a competitor to the Suzuki Sidekick / GEO Tracker. It looked a lot like them. The big (and very cool) styling difference were the side rear windows that curved up into the roofline like the old Ford Bronco. Those windows opened, providing better ventilation than you got in the Sidekick / Tracker. The rear hardtop was removable. (There was a canvass top version available, too.)

It is said that the Rocky is quicker than the Sidekick / Tracker, which took almost 20 seconds to hit 60 MPH. It's probably not much quicker, as one of the common complaints about the Rocky is its performance.

OK, the reason for this rambling post is to point out the Rocky being offered on eBay. It's a Rocky with 5800 original miles. According to the seller, it was purchased new by his parents, who rarely drove it. (Obviously.) The amazing part of this car is its undercarriage, which looks like new. In the pictures, you can see wood wired to the frame. According to the seller, his father "put that on there so the frame wouldn't get scratched from the car lift during state inspection". Good god.

The Rocky was a well built vehicle. Toyota is a major shareholder in Daihatsu and lends much of its technology to the company. Rocky bodies seem to hold together better than similar vintage SUVs and it's not uncommon for the engines to last well over 200,000 miles. While there are no dealers left in the US, parts are plentiful on the internet.

The $2000.00 price the used car dealer gave me 5 years ago would have been a deal, had I wanted a Rocky. Because of their durability, Rockys still have a good-sized following in the US and have held their value well. A very good Rocky will sell for just slightly less than a more modern used RAV4 or CRV. This 5800 mile one will probably command relatively huge money.

Located in Fayettville, NC, click here to see the eBay listing for this Daihatsu Rocky.

Of note: In doing research for this post, I stumbled on a mention of something called the Bertone Freeclimber. Essentially it's a Rocky with a Bertone designed body (Bertone "tweaked" body might be a better way of describing it. It doesn't look a whole lot different from the Rocky) and a choice of 3 engines. According to one website, those engines were a BMW 2443 cc turbodiesel, a 1991cc 6 cylinder engine or a 2693cc 6. However, I found a club dedicated to the vehicle and from what I can gather a 1.6 BMW 4 cylinder engine was also available. The Bertone Freeclimber was produced from 1989 to 1992.
You can find the website here.

An amusing note: In researching this vehicle I looked for a few others to get an idea of what they're selling for these days. Autotrader.com, a used car website I really like, had none listed, but had a little blurb about a 1992 model. In the lower right corner of the page, I found this:

A Daihatsu, a Daewoo or a Ferrari Enzo... I just can't decide.

1 comment:

Richard said...

The guys at Daihatsu are a strange bunch, the Rocky was slow, the Charade in the US was slow, no Detomaso version making it over here either :(...they ended up keeping all there good stuff over in Japan. While I lived in Europe, they did release the Cuore TR-XX Avanzato R4 in the UK. Looked like a normal little kei car, had a normal little kei car engine (660cc) but they did throw a turbo, intercooler, twin cams and a 4x4 system. It made no sense, especially in the UK market, but it didn't stop me wanting one.