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Better than a Suzuki: 1990 Diathatsu Rocky

If the winter we’ve had so far is any indication, 4WD will be a nice luxury to have. But if those $60,000 F150s are bit out of reach, check out this rarely seen 1990 Diahatsu Rocky. It’ll do just as well (if not better) than those five-figure fortresses and it will go to work everyday for a measly $2,500. Find it here on craigslist (or go here if the ad disappears) where the seller admits he’ll take $1,500 at the bare minimum. 

Claimed to be for sale to pay “…for a debt,” the seller throws out he’ll take $1,500, as that’s what he needs to settle his obligations. The Rocky looks solid, albeit likely wearing a different shade of paint than it left the factory with. The seller adds that it’s far superior to a Suzuki Samurai of the same era, due to having a more powerful drivetrain and more comfortable ride, thanks to its wider track. It’s amazing to think this was actually sold here and not a JDM import given how rarely they pop up.

The interiors were crude, practically military-spec, but these Diahatsus also weren’t expected to be used for any purpose requiring luxury or cosseting. Off-road, on the trail, down to the beach – these were all possible adventures a Rocky could be having. The dashboard is rough and the seat covers are usually hiding torn up upholstery, but for $1,500, who cares? With a manual gearbox and selectable 2WD, 4WD High and 4WD Low, this Rocky is built for rough terrain and simple repairs.

Speaking of, the seller says this Rocky runs quite well, with a rebuilt head in the last year to give the 1.6L plenty of reliable miles. While I don’t know much about this specific motor, it is apparent that Diahatsu has a knack for building durable, if not necessarily exciting, mills. At the time the Rocky was sold here, Diahatsu also entered the small car market with the Charade, another rarity on our roads but a fine soldier in the econobox wars. If you seek a Jeep for winter conditions but march to your own drummer, this Rocky may be for you.


  1. Coventrycat

    Yo, Adrian, whatcha doing with Pauly’s car?

  2. Art M.

    I remember when Diahatsu first began opening dealerships in the U.S. They were not cheap and they advertised that they were the oldest vehicle manufacturer in Japan.

    • Mike

      Isuzu is actually the oldest Japanese manufacturer.

      • Had Two

        Yes, and I was told Mitsubishi built the Zero’s for WWII

  3. Had Two

    The seller is correct, the Daihatsu Rocky is superior to a Suzuki Samurai.
    However, Japanese Daihatsu was late to the American market, after Izusu,
    Mitsubishi, Suzuki….Daihatsu was maybe 8th or 9th, whatever, it was last.
    Daihatsu is a very big and well respected Corporation in Japan. The initial offerings of the 3-cylinder small box of a car called a “Charade” did not sell well. Then, the 4-cyl 4WD Daihatsu Rocky arrived. Too little, too late to save Daihatsu sales in America. Try to find a You-Tube to see spokesperson/singer Neil Diamond singing “Coming to America”, the Daihatsu ad campaign feature song.

    There may be a parts network, somewhere, to save this one. Hopefully so.
    Questions to be asked are: When/where was it last registered? And more importantly, when did it pass it’s last smog inspection?

    • Kurt-Richard Murray

      Where would I pick up this 1990 Diahatsu Rocky if I were to purchase it?
      Thanks, Kurt

  4. Wagon master Member

    Deal! Runs and drives, 4×4, 159k miles.

  5. mallthus

    The Rocky was better when new. This one is not better. It is decidedly worse. At least for a Samurai you can find one in better shape than this and, even if you can’t, you can get parts and upgrades for them.

    Rocky is done.

  6. Bob

    Diahatsu is now a subsidiary to of Toyota.

  7. Big Mike

    Try finding parts for these crazy things. I supply a Big Chemical company in South St Louis with auto parts, and they owned about a dozen of the little Midget 3 wheel work trucks. They came to me about 20 years ago needing a starter for one, and I researched it and found the only supplier at the time was in Southern California, well I think I paid $600.00 for the starter that wasn’t any bigger than a soup can, but the company took it and over the years replaced the fleet of Midget trucks with other units like current day UTV type vehicles.

  8. Dan

    Dai or Dia?

  9. bob
    • David V Morris

      Bob, so many pictures and no interior ones?

  10. bob

    A nice one – but boy oh boy what’s with the price

  11. Gay Car Nut

    I’ve heard of the Daihatsu Rocky. I call it a damn shame that Daihatsu didn’t remain on the US market for a long time before it was discontinued for the North American Market.

  12. Steven Visek

    I shudder to think what the rodent that ate that dash must look like.

  13. Gene Parmesan

    In the late 90s, one of my neighbors owned two of these back-to-back in the same black and gray color combos. Still probably the only two I’ve ever seen in the wild and they were sharp-looking little trucks. This one however..yikes. An enthusiast would be wise to hold out for one that’s less hammered.

  14. Daymo

    Known as the Fourtrak here in the UK, built from 1984 to 2002. Still lots for sale on eBay, Gumtree, etc so parts supply plentiful here.

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