Even its Japanese designers were unsure that what they had created was, in fact, a car—which perhaps explains the name. From its woefully inadequate three-cylinder engine to its crunched Kleenex box styling, few cars exude penury and abject despair as completely and convincingly as the Charade.

This is a car that puts the “junk” in junkyard.

Daihatsu is actually a venerable brand—the oldest nameplate among the Japanese automakers. It was established at the beginning of the twentieth century and eventually became “Japan’s biggest small car company,” as it likes to style itself.

The Chiclet-sized Charade was introduced in 1978 and, though well-built, was so tiny, so feeble, and so expensive relative to other econo-boxes that it never caught on in the U.S. market. The company left by the late 1980s, leaving Charade owners out of luck when it came to service and spare parts.

While both the Charade and the mini-SUV Daihatsu Rocky have become curiosities in the United States, they are still significant profit-centers in Europe—where exorbitantly expensive gasoline enhances the appeal of ultra-small, ultra-efficient automobiles—and consumers apparently don’t object to stuffing themselves like circus clowns into cars that are barely one step removed from Mattel Big Wheels.

Americans can thank their “hyperpower” stars that cheap and stable supplies of gas have spared them a similar fate.

For more, see: http://www.amazon.com/Automotive-Atr...5114803#reader