I have never been sure why Daihatsu sold these Piaggios under the Daihatsu name...
They were the weakest link in their excellent model range.
I bought a Hi-jet (second one) in 2000 which has run without problems for almost nine years! The main problem was replacing the headlights (we moved to France from the UK) which cost an absolute bomb... around £500!
Now the sliding door handles have shattered as mentioned in one of the comments above.
(Anyone know where we can find replacement handles?)
There are almost no Hijet/Piaggio dealers in France. What's worse is that the French anti-competition mafia refuse to authorise the 4 or 6 seat glazed version (unless it's the electric model!) which seems to be acceptable everywhere else in the EU. I've even taken this to the EU legal advice pages on the Internet, but they weren't much help, other than implying the French shouldn't really be refusing to register these.
I would dearly like to buy another Hijet/Porter but unless we can overcome these stupid French rules and get a six seat version, we will probably have to buy something French (and expensive, and unreliable!)
I bought a 96 six seater version when we had 4 kids (3 under 3). And I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread! The driving position is like a bus and the performance like a mini! I used it for all sorts, and even squeezed 10 people in it once! The performance was impeded as it was only one litre!
It is a truly versatile van with expensive door handles!
My head gasket blew and although I had it fixed professionally, blew again within a couple of months. Unfortunately I had lost my faith in the car, as it had left me stranded on a mountain road in Wales with 4 crying children and an unhappy wife!
It was traded in against a Transit minibus!
I have however just bought a 1.3 MPV for my wife. You either love 'em, or hate em!
Daihatsu dealers have stopped selling these mini-trucks in the UK now. Not due to any mechanical fraud or lack of investors in case you want to know; simply due to the yen-pound exchange rate making it impossible. We brought a 1993 used one and it's been a doll of a car; great performance and small turning circle. Lots of room inside!
The whole engine can be replaced for £1200, so if a head gasket blows, I've been told to just replace the engine, as the head gasket problem is rectified now.
Hope that helps. Julian Preston-Powers from ThermaHelm.