The Daihatsu Taft is likely one of the most ambitiously named vehicles in automotive history – the name “TAFT” is an acronym for “Tough Almighty Fourwheeldrive Transport.”

I think many of you will agree that there are far too few vehicles with the word “almighty” in their model name, and Daihatsu set about making this right in 1974 when they released the first vehicle in the Taft model series.

Fast Facts – The Daihatsu Taft

  • The Daihatsu Taft was originally released in 1974 as a simple, Jeep-inspired 4×4 with a modestly sized 1.0 liter petrol engine.
  • Over the course of the Taft’s 1974 to 1984 production run Daihatsu released a long wheelbase model to accompany the original short wheel base model, a tray back version was offered as were different engine options.
  • The Daihatsu Taft F55 is the long wheelbase tray back version, fitted with the 2.5 liter diesel inline-four cylinder engine fitted, and mated to a four-speed manual transmission and a two-speed transfer case.
  • The Taft F55 you see here has been recently restored inside and out, it was imported into Florida in 2022 and it’s now being offered for sale.

Daihatsu

Daihatsu is perhaps one of the least well-known Japanese automakers, despite the fact that it’s also one of the oldest. The company started out as Hatsudoki Seizo Co. Ltd in 1907, it was essentially a commercial entity arm of the Engineering Department’s faculty at Osaka University.

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Image DescriptionThis is the F55 version of the Taft, meaning its the long wheelbase model with a tray back and a 2.5 liter diesel engine up front.

Hatsudoki’s early years were dedicated to the development and manufacturing of small gasoline engines for industrial use. They also built steam engines for the Japanese National Railways, followed later by diesel railway engines, and finally by road vehicles.

Simple, affordable, and lightweight three-wheeled vehicles entered production with Hatsudoki in the 1930s. After WWII in 1951 the company was renamed Daihatsu and it’s focus remained much the same, the manufacturing of small and affordable vehicles.

In the 1960s Toyota bought a significant share in Daihatsu, slowly increasing their stake over time.

Daihatsu became one of the most successful “Kei Car” marques in Japan – these are vehicles designed to fit neatly within Japanese government restrictions on size, weight, and engine displacement which gave them access to a special low tax bracket.

Over time Daihatsu’s focus shifted from developed countries and regions to the developing world, today they’re a major player in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.

The Daihatsu Taft

The Daihatsu Taft was clearly influenced by the early American Jeep, and by the Japanese vehicles that had been based on it – like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Nissan Patrol.

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Image DescriptionThe 2.5 liter diesel is an inline-four cylinder engine producing 61 bhp and 107 lb ft of torque, with the power sent back through a 4-speed manual transmission and a two-speed transfer case.

The Taft has a utilitarian design with stamped steel body panels, a ladder frame steel chassis, live axles front and rear on leaf springs, a minimalist interior, and a front mounted engine sending power back through a manual transmission and two-speed transfer case.

The original Taft was the F10, it was powered by a 1.0 liter gasoline engine, later versions would receive a 1.6 liter gasoline engine, or the 2.5 liter diesel which was later followed by a 2.8 liter unit.

The model family was offered under a number of different names in different global markets, it was known as the Blizzard, Scat, Wildcat, and Pionier depending on where you were in the world.

Tipping the scales at between 2,170 and 2,760 lbs, the low weight and small dimensions of the Taft made it ideal for accessing hard to reach areas on narrow trails overgrown with plant life.

Production would run from 1974 until 1984, after which time it was replaced by the Daihatsu Rugger, which was also known as the Daihatsu Rocky or the Daihatsu Fourtrak, again depending on where you lived.

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Image DescriptionThe interior is just as utilitarian as the exterior, it has seating for two and it’s left hand drive.

The Daihatsu Taft F55 Shown Here

The Taft you see here is a 1981 F55 model, the long wheelbase tray back version with the 2.5 liter diesel engine.

We don’t see many of these getting restored but with the rising interest in both classic four-wheel drives and classic Japanese vehicles, we may see more Tafts getting the restoration treatment.

The restoration on this one finished recently and the vehicle was then imported into the United States in March of 2022. It’s now being offered with a clean Florida title and the correct tool kit.

If you’d like to read more about this unusual classic 4×4 or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Bring A Trailer.

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Images courtesy of Bring A Trailer

Daihatsu TAFT

Published by Ben Branch -