The arena of British motorsport has played host to some of the world's greatest racing drivers. Look at any automotive racing discipline and you won't have to look to hard before you find the name of a tyre-torturing Brit. One name that always sparks up the memory banks is Will Hoy. A late joiner to the world of motorsport, he would go on to become a BTCC champion, but not before dominating behind the wheel of myriad other race cars. And that's what we have here. A Group N prepared Daihatsu Charade Turbo that was built for him to pilot in the production car championship during the 1985/86 season. The car was shared with fellow racing drivers Ray Mallock and Mike Salmon for the Willhire 24 hour race where it won its class. This is the real deal. A slice of British motorsport heritage.
When this little Daihatsu rolled out of the factory in 1985, it wasn't long before it stripped out and built back up into race specification. While it is, as per Group N regulations, road legal, it has never once been used on the school run or to go and get the shopping. It's been a racer from the off. As such, it has only covered 4,900 miles over the course of its life. Though of course, those have been screaming, high-octane, apex-clipping miles. The best kind.
After its initial competition use, this car found its way into private hands where it continued to be used on track. Interestingly though, the car has been kept in original condition, with the exception of consumables, service and safety items. The PIFF (Mountune) built engine remains, but with an intercooler (road cars didn't have this). It's in fine fettle having been rebuilt and recently serviced, and we're assured by the owner that the little three-pot unit is keen to rev to 9,000rpm when asked. Not bad for 993cc.
The car comes with a wealth of paperwork, recently it has had an engine rebuild by Bushell’s, a respected car restorer based in Kent. The MOT expires in July 2022. It passed with the rather amusing advisory of 'exhaust noisy' which is a given - it's a race car with a side-exit pipe! Looking through the MOT history, there are no fails, and other than an advisory for tyres and brake pipe in 2005, it's as clean as a whistle. Credit, then, to the car's custodians over the years.
Further paperwork includes catalogues, motoring press cuttings and an original programme from its racing history. There is also a collection of period photographs including official ones from Daihatsu. The paperwork is further supported by the homologation manual, which is 294 pages and shows, in great detail, all the work that went in to converting the compact hot hatch to a saloon car racing hero.
As you might expect for a car prepared for life on the track, the interior is a little more sparse than that of a standard road car. There is a full bolt-in roll-cage, the carpets are absent, as is the rear seat and all the boot trim. However, there original door cards remain, as does the original passenger seat. The driver seat has been upgraded to a Cobra item. There are harnesses for both, and we're told the seller has the original race seat from the car's youth, as it were.
The dash has been modified, but still plays host to the original dials, heater controls and steering wheel. The lower centre section now has kill switches for fuel and electricity, while the upper dash has extra gauges for boost and for oil pressure. In the back of the car, you'll find a Lifeline fire extinguisher and a race-specification fuel 'bag' instead of the factory tank. It's all very racy stuff!
The white paintwork has held up well considering its life on the track, some areas have small cracks on them which are highlighted in the photos, these have never been remedied as the owners have wanted to keep the authenticity of the car. Tyres are in good order and the car does have an MOT until July 2022, remember this is road legal so it does come with a clean bill of health. Further to our comments about the MOT history above, there has never been a mention or advisory for corrosion or the like. While this little car has been used in anger, it's simply not been exposed to the same sort of road salt and dirt that 'normal' car would be. When not racing, it lives indoors, and as such is rock solid.
The in period livery is present, including the names of all the drivers on each door and the car's race number. The external boot and bonnet latches/fasteners are in good order, too. The body boats twin ATL dry break fillers, one in each rear quarter. There is also a requisite kill switch on the scuttle. Is it a minter? No, it's a race car. It has the odd mark here and there. But that's part of the car's history. Fundamentally, it's never been wrapped around a tree, or another race car, and there is no rust to be worried about. It has, make no mistake, many years of track action left in it.
The 993cc turbocharged engine has been rebuilt in the recent past, and has just been fully serviced. As such, it fires up on the first crank and thanks to that side exit exhaust, it sounds delightfully raspy - the burble of a three-cylinder engine is strangely addictive! When new, the car would have had about 70bhp. This one is of course a race unit, so should be more. A rolling road session would be needed to get an exact number. However, with it being a PIFF engine fitted with an intercooler (standard cars didn't have one), it should be a good number.
We're told the brakes, suspension and steering are all in good order, which would fit with the mileage. The five-speed transmission is also crisp and keen to engage gears. There were no obvious leaks, nor any untoward noises or smoke when we observed the car, and while it would naturally need a check over before hitting the track, there is nothing to suggest that doing so would be anything more than a formality.
It's just fun, isn't it? And don't we all like a bit of fun? Sure, the last thirty-plus years have seen to it that this Charade isn't competitive today, but that's not the point. This is a car you buy for you. Book this on a track day and rather than follow the pack, enjoy each twist and turn for yourself. This little car is light, agile, grippy and potentially huge amounts of fun. As James May once said, it's better to have 100hp be able to use it all, than 500bhp and only use 10%. If you want a track day toy that will thrill, excite and only use a thimble of fuel, this is it.
Plus, there is the significance of this car in terms of British motorsport. This was Will Hoy's actual race car. You'll be sitting where he sat, you'll be pushing the same pedals and turning the same wheel and, well, there's something so very cool about that. If you want a special, rare, exciting little track car, this is without a doubt, it.
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1985 Daihatsu Charade Turbo Ex-Will Hoy
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