“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away was a Daihatsu Charade.” That’s how Alex Parisi started off his mail to me when I asked him to tell me about his little time attack project. With a opening line like that, I knew I was in for an interesting story and despite this being only a little spotlight, I’ll do my best to let you know how it all came to be. The idea was always to create something that would surprise people, a little Daihatsu that would be capable of going really fast and getting itself noticed in the process. Back when it was still a street car it was running a turbocharged HD series motor, good for 350hp at the wheels. Decent enough power, except for the fact that it would constantly make the upgraded gear sets in the gearbox destroy themselves.
Looking at the car now, you can imagine the amount of work that went into making it look so functional – what was required to change a little compact Japanese hatch into a dedicated time attacker. Before the car even looked like this, Alex attempted to enter it in the 2012 WTAC, but missed out as all entry spots were literally taken up in 15 minutes. Not to worry, 2013 came around and that’s when he decided to go for it. “What the hell” as he put it. Never having even been to Sydney Motorsports Park, he wasn’t going to take any chances – he knew the high speeds that could be reached on the main straight and the importance of aero. Turning the little brick that was the Charade into something that would actually generate downforce proved to be a fun challenge that Alex tackled head-on. He created a one piece pre-preg carbon, nomex-cored flat floor and rear diffuser.
Here’s a better look at that massive rear diffuser which is there to balance out the downforce that the front end treatment with a big protruding splitter and carbon canards generates. Fender flaring followed; Alex needed to bump the front and rear tracks of the Charade so it would wear the widest wheels possible, settling on 10Js, allowing him to run 275 section A050s at each corner. Looking at the picture above, you may have noticed the big cut outs on the hatch lid.
Well those are there because what used to be the Charade’s trunk is now occupied by the radiator, mounted at an angle and armed with a pair of big extractor fans and fed by two massive tubes that fish air from the side windows. The reason the cooling has been moved to the rear of the car is because following the continuous gearbox failures, Alex decided to do things a bit differently up front…
He knew that an all-new engine and gearbox combo was the only way to move forward, and despite considering Honda’s K-series, the power that guys in the US were getting out of boosted B18s made his decision an easy one. Honda’s unmistakable, red-topped four-cylinder now resides in the Charade’s modified engine bay – you can see the stiffening bars welded onto the suspension turrets.
500hp at the wheels was not too difficult to obtain thanks to a fully built B18 courtesy of AMP Racing, mated with 25psi of boost supplied by the Garrett 3076 turbo which sits on a pretty awesome-looking manifold. And hence the need to move the radiator to the back, because with the blower sitting where it is, there’s just enough space to fit and clear the big front-mounted intercooler.
The cabin is built around functionality: fully stripped out, including the stock dash which has been replaced with a simple carbon panel.
Much work went into fitting the Charade with Motec M800 engine management, guaranteeing the custom-built motor gives its best under the hardest of use. Alex and his team weren’t particularly lucky at last year’s WTAC with small problems hindering their chances at setting a decent lap time in the Pro Am Class the car was entered in. 2014 will be spent sorting out the little issues, as well as perfecting the suspension geometry and shedding even more weight. It might not have been the fastest car out there, but it’s builds like these that continue to grab our attention. Thinking outside the box goes a long way!
Dino Dalle Carbonare