Something Rotten in Denmark

At present there are eight Daihatsus for sale in Denmark. Let’s peer in the dirty side glass of one of them. Nothing if not exclusive, these cars. 

1990 Daihatsu Cuore: source
1990 Daihatsu Cuore: bilbasen.dk

By way of a little contrast, anyone wanting something more common can choose from 87 Ferraris, 33 Aston Martins, 621 Porsches or 48 Maseratis. People feeling insecure about the rarity of their Rolls-Royce can be assured that there are only nine of them on sale this week, making it almost as exclusive as a Daihatsu. Those numbers are probably reasonable guides to the relative scarcity of these cars.

Unfortunately for this article, none of the Daihatsu’s on offer are genuinely bad. Even the Cuore has its merits. Unlike many purportedly small vehicles, the Cuore genuinely is small. If you park one next to the current favourite in the Danish small car market, you see how truly vast those 1007’s/Aygo/C1’s really are. Most importantly, as Bristol owners will remind us, the Cuore is narrow as well as being short and not very high. That gives the car real manoeuvrability which the PCT trio lack.

1999 Daihatus Cuore: source
A proper look at a Daihatsu Cuore: source

The cheapest Daihatsu you can buy as a private customer is a 1999 Cuore for 10,000 kr which I am sure you could knock down to whatever you had in cash. More interesting than the car itself is the Danish custom of calling second cars “konebiler” which means “wife cars”. You’d expect a little more gender neutrality in Denmark, wouldn’t you? And you’d expect a little less of what academics call “heteronormativity” too.

Outsiders tend to view Scandinavia as a homogenous lump of frozen north, draped in pickled herring and ironed flat by social equality. Closer inspection reveals variations from the simple picture. There are differences and Denmark is in some surprising ways more classically liberal than Sweden or Norway. That means the country has been leaning slightly but ever so consistently rightward in recent decades. It also means that there are sprinklings of Scandinavian macho in evidence. The “konebil” term is one of them. You never hear of a “dad car”. Dads don’t take much paternity leave compared to the Swedes. There are a lot of guys sporting beards and moustaches too, especially among the under 30’s.

If you take a closer look at the Cuore’s history you realise that the width which I discussed above is not an insignificant detail. It is the giveaway that the Cuore is a kei-car (like the Daihatsu Move). The 1999 Cuore here is the L500 series, launched in 1994 …. I will digress massively here. We blithely talk about the E32 BMW and W210 Mercedes and sometimes the B3 or B4 VW Passat. I notice people seldom talk about Daihatsu in these terms. So, I suggest that you memorise the series codes for the Cuore and guide the conversation around so that you can refer to them. They are: L55 (1980), L70 (1985), L200 (1990), L500 (1994 and that one will come up most so be sure to remember it). For bonus points, the Move was L600. And to continue this stream of digression, the 1998 Move (L600 or L900) was designed by Giugiario.

Not on sale at the moment is a Sirion 1 or a Daihatsu Copen. Daihatsu stopped marketing cars in the European market in 2013. The high value of the yen made it hard to sell the cars profitably. So, Daihatsu is not unlike Lancia, Saab and Rover, a brand of orphan cars.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

7 thoughts on “Something Rotten in Denmark”

  1. With personal owner experience of three kei- car brands I believe Diahatsu is the most progressive in this segment both in engineering and model line.
    The UK model Charade sold in 2004 was extrodinary in performance, economy and comfort far beyond ones expectations especially considering its diminutive footprint.
    Toyotas intro of their IQ usof whiched a Diahatsu three cylinder engine albeit with chain driven cams, and was my choice when choosing an IQ for personal use and another for my daughter.
    Having been an early adopter of a Move I would welcome the opportunity to experience one of the current tall city car models with sliding doors and missing B pillar.

    1. There’s a lot of effort put into these cars and it’s nice they get a bit of appreciation. The variety and turn-over of models makes it hard to keep up (Daihatsu showed eight concepts at the Delhi motor show!) and, further, the language barrier means much information is hard to get. I may have another dig into the topic but I have some South-American research to deal with first.
      How did the iQ work? I’d call it an underappreciated car. It might just be too small for not much gain. The VAG trio and PCT trio seem to have hit the sweet spot in price, size and capability. And they choke the competition too: I imagine anything much differernt would not go down well.

    2. The IQ “is”under Appreciated but only by non owners. To my mind it would be near perfect with an active suspension system to compensate for its short wheelbase. The full width body as wide as a Golf is very spacious, allows for a wide track for flat cornering and the short length means the car has a very tight turn radius.
      The IQ has been one of my favorit cars and a better choice compared to a Smart.

  2. Spent about 20 hours teaching in a Cuore around 9 years ago. It really was a small car, I felt like I was wearing it rather than traveling in it. My biggest memory is that it didn’t inspire confidence in terms of safety. It was incredibly light, the doors were paper thin. I’m pretty sure I remember it being well equipped. I think it had an a/c compressor, electric windows and a fancy factory radio/CD changer. Fairly unusual for a 2000 city car here in Ireland.

  3. My sister drives this car ! In a pale green colour. Sometimes it feels like she is the only one in France with that model, they’re so rare. It wasn’t a deliberate choice for her, one of the senior woman she works for sold it to her for peanuts with only 15K in the odometer. It reminds me that I’ve never driven it even though she’s had it for years. Iam calling her right now to exerce my right.

    1. Isn´t this what a Mini is supposed to be like? Imagine this car with a bit of British flair. That´d be a Mini in my view.
      Thanks for revisiting this article.

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