The Lesser-Known AE86
Brand Loyalty

I have such admiration for people who commit to one particular car manufacturer. I haven’t found my one just yet, or maybe I just can’t afford it to know, but I definitely look on with a certain amount of respect and envy for those who have found the one.

For as long as I haven’t and have known Bryan Duggan, he was always a Toyota guy. I say ‘haven’t known’ because I knew his cars before I knew him; he owned one of the first really nice Japanese-styled AE86 Truenos in my locality.

Daihatsu Charmant 4A-GTE by Paddy McGrath-20

It was actually because of his Trueno that this project came about. In many ways though, it was very much an accidental sort of build.

Daihatsu Charmant 4A-GTE by Paddy McGrath-26

Wanting to protect his Trueno from the Irish roads whilst still having something fun to drive, he looked at other options. Another Hachiroku would be too expensive and sort of pointless; KE70s would have been ideal but their prices were on the rise and are becoming far more common here.

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What Bryan chose would ultimately give him all the fun of an AE86 but for a fraction of the initial purchase price. Whilst it’s not a Toyota in name, it most certainly is one by any other measure – especially when you discover how Bryan has gone about this particular build.

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You don’t see the Daihatsu Charmant too often on Speedhunters; in fact, I think this might be the first one we’ve ever featured. It’s not because we’re Charmant-ist, but rather because they’re a pretty rare sight. Even in a country which is saturated with retro Toyotas and the like, we’ve estimated there to be less than 10 of them remaining on the roads here. It’s no wonder then that Daihatsu is probably the last name that comes to mind when you think ‘retro Japanese car’ with numbers this small. However, I think I might have found a new guilty pleasure…

Accidental Project
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“It’s so f*cking ugly.” Probably not the words you would expect to hear from a car’s owner, particularly after a prolonged build, but it’s difficult to disagree with. In many ways though, it’s part of the Charmant’s charm.

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If you squint a little and imagine that the rear most passenger window isn’t there, then you’ll almost see a KE70 Corolla. They’re both the same chassis, but just with different exterior details. The lights, both front and rear, are larger and more unsightly than the Toyota equivalents. The boot area is different too, with a slight slope to it.

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Bryan doesn’t seem to take the car too seriously, but the work involved in turning this into what it is today has been significant. It has undergone a complete and total restoration before it received a transformation, too.

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Originally, this Daihatsu came with a lethargic Toyota 4K. The Charmant wasn’t created with performance in mind, so the 1.3-litre OHV engine was perfectly suited for what Daihatsu intended to be a comfortable saloon car. For what Bryan had in mind, the 4K was never going to suffice however, and a little bit of AE86 DNA would have to be injected into the equation.

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Speedhunters readers will of course be familiar with the 4A-GE 16-valve engine and likely its 4A-GZE supercharged cousin, the latter of which Bryan chose as the base for a turbo conversion.

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The sparkling pink paint in the engine bay was a deliberate choice; something to reinforce the idea of this Charmant being dull on the outside but quite the opposite underneath.

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Rather than repeating the spec list below, I’ll just say that the engine work is considerable. There hasn’t been a dyno session, but power is estimated at around 190-200hp, which has been deduced from the Charmant pulling on a DC5 Integra Type R in a drag race. I mean, how else would you figure these things out?

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One of the neatest parts of the build is the custom ‘Twin Cam 16 Turbo Charger’ cam cover. Utilising an original 4AG-ZE ‘Super Charger’ cover, the ‘Super’ portion was filled and smoothed before being re-machined with the ‘Turbo’ lettering. If anything, it’s probably the best example to show you the level of thought and detail that has gone into this project.

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With the night growing colder courtesy of strong winds, we headed back to civilisation and took shelter beneath a bridge at a railway station. Under the brighter lights, it gave us a better opportunity to look closer at the car.

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To accommodate the 4A-GTE and the increase in power, the original floorpan has been seam-welded to give an increase in strength. The K50 gearbox has been replaced with a rebuilt T50, too.

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In order to completely remove the cable clutch operated setup of the factory 4K and K50 combination, Bryan used a CE70 Corolla’s hydraulic pedal box. The AE86 loaned many pieces to the puzzle too; a full AE86 wiring loom was used front-to-back along with a front cross-member and rear axle housing. The fuel tank too is an AE86 item, as is the brake bias valve which has been fitted inside the bulkhead, in order to hide the hoses and keep the engine bay as clean as possible.

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The fitment is flush and functional. Diamond Racing SC Series wheels have been deployed front and rear in identical sizes (15×8-inch) but just with differing offsets (0 at the front and -12 at the rear).

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The bumper-less rear wasn’t a purpose-made decision, rather it has just proved very difficult to source a rear bumper. Luckily for Bryan, the bumper-less look is quite strong at the minute and it adds a little bit of aggression to the overall look of the car.

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The only real aesthetic addition is the front chin spoiler which he acquired second hand, its origins unknown.

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The interior has been suitably upgraded too, with a 360mm Nardi wheel, a pair of Recaro SR2s and the factory rear seats having been re-trimmed to match the fronts.

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The instrument cluster has been replaced with a custom item which houses the new gauges.

A Simple Recipe, Well Executed

Before we parted ways, I managed to grab a quick walk-around video to give you a better appreciation of the proportions and sound of the car. It’s a bit grainy but I’m sure you’ll survive.

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I would expect a lot of people to turn their noses up at a car like this. I think in years previous, I probably would have too, especially if I didn’t bother to take a closer look.

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But I love everything about this car. Even as we were wrapping things up, I still found myself trying to find other unexplored angles of the car. The whole idea behind the Charmant and the way it has all been executed is simply brilliant.

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For me, it’s a car built for the right reasons. It was never meant to evolve this way, but this is what happens when you have someone who is so passionate about cars behind a project that they just have to keep taking it one step further.

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Further to this, it’s the result of someone who built a car entirely for their own pleasure. I don’t recall seeing a single tweet, ‘gram or Facebook post about this car as it came together. It’s the result of one guy and some friends whiling away their time doing what they love. And while Bryan is the first to make a joke about the car, I really feel that it’s his way of showing affection for it, much like how many of us will take the piss out of our friends as an act of endearment.

You can call it ugly, you can call it whatever you want, because at the end of the day it puts a smile on the owner’s face, and that’s all that matters.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos

Bryan Duggan’s 4A-GTE-powered Daihatsu Charmant

Max Power: ~200hp

Toyota 4A-GZE long block, TRD 0.8mm head-gasket, ARP head studs, Toda 264 inlet & 256 exhaust cams with Toda cam pulleys, T3 small-port to big-port inlet manifold adaptor, Kelway exhaust manifold, T25G turbo with HKS actuator, A’PEXi 75mm air filter, 3-inch down-pipe, Trust MX cat-back exhaust, TRD engine mounts, Koyo radiator, Samco AE86 silicone hose set, Lancer Evolution IV intercooler, RS Chita sump baffle, HKS oil pressure increase kit with head oil feed restrictor, AE101 4A-GZE ECU and wiring loom, custom made Twin Cam Turbo Charger cam cover, various AN fittings for oil & fuel lines

Rebuilt T50 gearbox, 4.1:1 6.7-inch rear end with Cusco RS 2-way LSD and kouki-spec shafts, TRD 212mm sport clutch with black-top flywheel

MCN short-stroke front inserts with coilover converted struts using Rix coilover sleeves & Faulkner race springs, Cusco front roll centre adjusters  & camber plates, Cusco front & rear braces, Uras inner tie rods, P/S steering knuckles, Black Diamond drilled & grooved discs, Project Mu B-Spec front pads, D1 Spec rear pads, Goodridge braided caliper hoses, TRD green short-stroke rear dampers, TRD race height 6kg/mm rear springs, Cusco Formula Jr rear 4-link & Formula panhard rod, T3 traction brackets, various poly-bushings

Diamond Racing SC 15×8-inch 0 offset wheels with Advan Neova AD08 tyres (front), Diamond Racing SC 15×8-inch -12 offset wheels with Kingstar tyres

Seam-welded floor pan, AE86 brake bias valve, AE86 handbrake, AE86 front cross member and rear axle housing, AE86 fuel tank with Walbro 255lph pump, full AE86 wiring loom front to back, CE70 Corolla hydraulic pedal box, front lip

AE86 carpet, Recaro SR2 seats with rear seat retrimmed to match colour, headlining re-trimmed in black suede, custom instrument cluster, GReddy 60mm gauges & Auto Gauge 80mm tacho, Ultra Speed Monitor for vehicle speed, Nardi Classic 360mm wheel fitted to HKB hub, Odyssey PC680 battery in the boot

More Engine Swapped cars on Speedhunters

Cutting Room Floor
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Has to be one of the most fun cars featured on speedhunters in a while. Just looking at it somehow puts a smile on my face :)


It's absolutely awesome, and I don't think it's even ugly at all! :D


Wow!!,I love the build even im a toyota guy, a lot of chatmant still running in indonesia and brunei
We love it because its unique and more cheaper car to buy than the corolla And also shared the ke70/ae86 Dna.
Altough parts still scarce here in my country


It's so rare to see Charmant being done nicely ! Compare with KE70 , the Charmant always a little underdog !
I have seen a pair of KE70 & Charmant drift together at August this year , live ... it was epic ,


I'm all for the underdog cars. Love seeing oddballs given some love. I guess that's try for my 83 GC 626


I just love clean builds like this! And that photography is just gorgeous... Wow.


very nice! and those wheels are brilliant. They have a really utilitarian look to them. lovely.
 I love little-knowns and obscurities- after all, "Ugly" cars are where the sleepers live... The Lotus/Proton Satria is a damn ugly car (in all iterations) but holy cow can that thing handle round corners on mountain (or hillside) roads. The Mk3 Golf. everyone hates the Mk3 golf... until they see a VR6 badge and then the attitude changes, but man, is the Mk3 an ugly beast, no denying that. Ford Monday-oh (as in the feeling you get when you realise its a monday. I swear ford did that on purpose) anyway, the mk1 mondaeo came with an SVT engine and 200 odd brake in the US. Damn ugly car, damn fine engine.


The lesser known of two evils!! LOVE IT. 
The fact that it has a RWD layout is all the awesomeness it needs.

Id take a RWD chassis, no matter how ugly it is. And in my humble opinion, the physical look of this car isn't ugly, it's just boring.


My God, as a Charmant owner myself, this makes me really proud having one myself!


A good friend of mine had a Charmant for a while, which was the rustiest, slowest, most dented piece of automotive metal that I had ever driven in, yet for some reason we were all madly in love with that car. Was a shame to see it go, it was the ugly duckling that everyone loved to bits.

Thanks for the story Paddy, these are the stories that I visit Speedhunters for these days.


Thanks, I'm the charmant owner


peternator by the looks of it its a airdam off a cressida or similar, they universal fit them in japan


Bryan reckons that it might be a Madhouse replica.


Thanks for sharing, Paddy!


He'd be pestered daily for this car. Awesome build


I don't normally comment but this made my day :) owned 2 of these and they are one of the best starter cars to own, really fun, great cars to learn to drive with, a lot of potential, seen everything fit into this from JZ to RB, CA18 to SR20... awesome car...


Project AT180R DCC :)


Shakotan Jack Your car is downright amazing. I love it.


I absolutely love this machine. It's quirky as all hell, but it carries a wealth of charm to it. However, this is the charm we see now in its current stage, armed with the knowledge of what it's running on. But being able to truly grasp the true potential before the build even started is what I am inspired best by from this owner.


" The fitment is flush and functional. Diamond Racing SC Series wheels have been deployed front and rear in identical sizes (15×8-inch) but just with differing offsets (0 at the front and -12 at the rear). "


there's a hashtag that hasn't seemed to take off - LOL

can't stand illogical staggered set ups with different width tires - achieving this with wheel offset ? - me likey


Cheers. Should push for a feature don't you think? Aha


The charming brother's.
Silver one, mine. Original 4k engine, getting ready to be married to dual carbs.
Blue one is my brother's, full 20v 4age swap.


TarmacTerrorist I would have to disagree on the satria being an ugly car, I like them quite a bit.


More of this! My fav type of feature. Great photography, good write up, I wish I could take the car for a spin!!


I really like this car - great build, nice attention to detail and looks like a hoot to drive. I have to be honest though... I struggle to get past the Charmant's looks, but as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


The spare wheel has a nicer rim then the tires currently on it haha


juicebox inb4 u speedhunters


That's fair, beauty in the eye of the beholder and all that, I had a Lotus Satria for a month while working up north and it was brilliant fun, i thought the paint was a bit dodgy, at the time I rode motorbikes pretty much exclusively unless I need a car for work so had no idea about these things though. It just didn't click with me, it kind of looks like a stretched Citeron Saxo. Just not for me. but hell, serious fun.
I didn't mean for it to seem I was picking on them, I was championing the not so typical manufacturer and how much fun a car most write off without exploring them can be.


It's not ugly, it's just there. Some car for some people. Would absolutely love this car (though I'd probably try to get a corolla bumper to work on the rear. As they say in the films, how hard can it be?)


"It's ugly", more like a special kind of ugly? LOL! I would absolutely rock a car like this. Very subtle, and a very clean exterior. I wonder what are the reactions like when people see this thing pull [it's a Daihatsu. LOL!]. Now, that would be interesting. :D


excellent feature. love the rareness and obscurity, also love how its a sleeper with the proven toyota goodies hidden inside. great build, props to the owner. id rather rock this car than an 86 since theyre so trendy lately, now if i could only find one of these to tuck away for a rainy day lol. doubt they offered these in NA, and if they did theyre probably all junked...


I'd run that.


Just asking , what color of paint did you use ?


I'd run that.




hi all i'm indonesian, glad to see charmant on SH.. haha.
in indonesia charmant come w 4A engine and T50 Gearbox as origin,
i have one. :D
we have charmant community, but surprisingly there so many people from abroad.
visit us if you mind..


I freakin love it. Really nice job done.


greenroadster Glad you enjoyed it!


TsabatSyahrulSyaban Hello


BrentBadulis Took me longer than I'd like to admit before I realised NA means North America in this instance...


ComJive Famous last words.


Emptypie Juicebox is based in my hometown, so I have no issue with that whatsoever. It's more about giving Bryan's car the exposure it deserves.


Lol, I guess it could also mean "naturally aspirated" in this instance. Oops!


Anyone sees a Volvo-ish front ? I love that "retro-sleeper" vibe


Such that sleeper look and I really like it. All of that time and dedication was put beneath. 

Great article, great shots, and really nice car :)


Love this write up, being a Charmant owner myself, it's good to see some other ways of modding them! In the pictures below are my own 20v swapped Charmant ;)


If u wanna see alot of charmants, visit Barbados, or ask Larry Chen if he saw any when he was here for the Redbull Global Rally Cross.


RandyCongedo nice mate good job


Well that really is Speedhunter worthy  *thumbs up*


Great car and great feature. Never knew the Daihatsu Charmant existed, but having seen one like this I've now the strong desire for one! I certainly don't mind the looks - it has that "blank canvas" appeal that means it'd probably suit hundreds of different wheel designs and colour schemes.


this car tipped it off when i saw the spare in the trunk, most people would take that would, but i love the little things like that, and it was dirty which showed the ageing of it. Love this car.


Your camera work is impressive, in love with the shots under the bridge!


That looks really fun to drive!!! Love it!



Great spread. Great car.


This car is freaking awesome!




I really want to know what front spoiler he is using. Want the same for mine


@Ri What kind of fron bumper is your brother using ?


@Ri Also where can I get the side window wind blocker ? :P

Satrio Budi Laksono

damn.. i miss my charmant.. my 1st car