1991 Daihatsu Applause GXI 1.6i fuel injection

Summary:

Superb, typical Japanese reliability

Faults:

Nothing in 1500 miles.

General Comments:

I bought this car last year for £200, as it had been lying up and unused. Despite this, it had only covered 36k miles from new, and had plenty of service history. The body was excellent, and the interior was like a new car.

I knew the car had been overheating, hence the low price, and it had a suspected head gasket failure, which proved to be the case. I replaced this (the head itself was perfect, and didn't need skimmed) along with the thermostat and timing belt.

Next, I serviced the car; oil, plugs, new coolant and new filters. I noticed the heater didn't seem to be working, and saw that someone had disconnected the pipes, which pointed to a leak from the heater matrix at some point.

I connected them back up, and sure enough, coolant started flowing into the passenger footwell. The heater matrix is a known problem with these cars, and a bugger to replace. I put a bottle of K-SEAL into the radiator, which plugged up the heater leak and stopped it. How long for is anyone's guess, but it can be used again if need be.

The brake pads were a little on the thin side, but roadworthy. Nonetheless, I replaced them, along with new discs on the front. These cars were amongst the first to feature rear disc brakes as standard.

The tyres were good, as were the original alloys on the car, but the two rear tyres were probably original, and had small signs of perishing. I had a set of 15" alloys with nearly new tyres on them that I'd taken off a previous car, and they fitted onto the Daihatsu for the MOT.

Parts for these cars are available on eBay, and are quite cheap. The gasket, thermostat, timing belt, brake parts and service parts only stand me about £130. The work, I did myself.

The car runs like a sewing machine, and returns about 40 MPG, which is pretty good. These cars are pretty quick, and are a nice, smooth drive.

The velour seats are very comfy, and the car has a great heater. It's well equipped too, with power steering, 4 electric windows, electric mirrors and a radio/cassette player. All the electrics work as they should. The two front windows were a little weak and slow to go up and down, but I lubricated the insides with WD40, and they're much better.

These cars were expensive in their day and didn't sell in big numbers (£10,000 in 1991). Nonetheless, they're an excellent, typically Japanese car, that does most things well and reliably.

I've just done 1500 miles in this car, and it hasn't missed a beat. With its low mileage, there's not a rattle or noise from the suspension, and the car is as tight as a 3 year old car. I'm going to drive this until it drops.

For its time, these cars must have been years ahead of the competition, as the car feels and drives much more modern than its age would suggest. The car also has a great boot and a reclining 60/40 split rear seat, so is very practical. The automatic gearbox is 4 speed and extremely smooth, which only reconfirms my belief that the Japanese make better automatics than anyone else.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th February, 2012