A fairly rare sight these days, which lends them an air of 'Wow, cool 4x4 - what is it?'. The Daihatsu TAFT, stands for 'Tough Almighty Fourwheeldrive Transport'. It could only be from '70s Japan, yet there's no question the TAFT has lived up to the acronym. Built between 1974 and 1984 it was aimed at a market between the smaller Suzuki Jimny and larger Toyota Landcruiser. Very popular in its home country and mainly emerging economies of the day. It was known in Europe as the Wildcat amongst other names and they do pop up occasionally at classic car auction.
The first Taft was the F10, introduced in 1974 and equipped with a puny 1.0 L (958 cc) petrol engine and a four-speed transmission with a two-range transfer case, not disimilar to the Suzuki Jimny. The F10 was short-wheel-base (SWB) softtop and had hardtop versions. Noisy and fairly basic, as with an early Suzuki Jimny fun for off-roading, a short trip on B roads or as a tough city hack only.
Around 1977, the F10 was replaced with the F20 series with the 1.6 L petrol engine. An improvement. Roughly the same time the F50 2.5 L diesel version was introduced. Both models featured an improved transmission and were available in SWB Softtop and Hardtop versions, either as four- or six-seaters. Now this diesel engine has real torque and is long lasting if well maintained, suddenly the TAFT got the right engine to match its workhorse looks. A later F60/F65 may have a larger 2.8L diesel engine but it lacks the purity of form that the F50 retained from the original design.
These are pretty little machines have a narrow track that allows them to squeeze along tight lanes and into narrow spaces. With rear side facing bench seats they can carry 6 people to the beach and make an interesting and practical alternative to a short wheelbase Landy. '70s retro Japanese is a sensible buy at the moment and with the value of big brother Toyota FJ40s continuing to rise, a TAFT just could be the next one to watch - that's if you can find a fully restored one - if you have one to sell via private treaty or our online classic car auction get in touch. We love them. Eclectic Shikku.