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Ultimate Game of Charades – B18C Turbo Swapped Daihatsu Charade Detomaso

26 July 2023

A fitting name for one of the best games of charades we’ve seen in a long time, this Charade Detomaso has the ultimate trick up its sleeve — a 220kW DOHC VTEC turbo!

Words: René Vermeer Photos: Glen McNamara

There are some seriously wild people out there in the world today, and sometimes you stumble on them in the weirdest of places. Like most of you probably do, I frequent Facebook’s Marketplace daily, if not hourly, in the hunt for the next ‘score’. 

It was on this hunt that I came on a little weapon so wild and unique that the tea that just entered my mouth was almost propelled right back out again in a steaming hot mist. I had stumbled on Suresh’s Detomaso, which at first glance had a front-mounted intercooler. I thought this was normal until I realised the Detomaso wasn’t the factory turbocharged model from the Daihatsu line-up, but instead came fitted with a 1600cc naturally aspirated engine that with a 93kW output. Maybe he had turbocharged that engine? 

I then clicked through to what I knew immediately was a feature-worthy turbocharged Honda-powered machine with a stout, well-rounded build list. I reached out to tell him who I was and said that before he sold the Daihatsu, New Zealand Performance Car readers needed to see it. Suresh kindly obliged — legend. 

Based in Auckland’s New Lynn, Suresh has been into cars ever since he was young. He tells us, “I first got into cars when I was about 18 years old; the first car I purchased was a Mazda 323 and it had a blown motor. This was the beginning of getting into modifying cars.” However, it was only five years ago that Suresh purchased the Daihatsu, and almost from day dot, he planned on installing a Honda engine. “Honda motor technologies [VTEC] have always been something I had a keen interest in understanding, and something I was very excited about was completing and installing a Honda motor into a Daihatsu Charade Detomaso,” Suresh continues. 

With little to no information on installing a Honda engine into a Daihatsu of this model, Suresh and his mates took on the project themselves. But, due to the size of the B18C engine compared with the factory motor, a fair bit of custom work was needed — the first being the engine mounts. Then it snow-balled, as Suresh explains: “The first step was customising the engine mounts. Which led to customising the axles, modifying the brakes, then installing the wiring loom and ECU. After all of this hard work, we decided to turbo the engine before dropping it down — this then led to fully forging the motor.”

With a factory B18C engine between the strut towers, the Daihatsu would have been no slouch, so with this in mind, the turbo selection led to something readily available that would somewhat cap power figures at a conservative amount. Using a Mitsubishi Evo IV turbo (TD05H) on a custom manifold, the B18C engine spins up a very conservative 220kW at the front wheels on only 11psi of boost on pump gas. “It’s extremely fast,” says Suresh. “One could say it gives you adrenaline. The handling of the car is loose when the turbo and VTEC kick in.”

Being that a Daihatsu isn’t the largest vehicle either, front wheel and tyre width is limited, governing how much power can be put down to the ground. To give the Detomaso a fighting chance, Suresh opted for the S80 limited-slip-diff (LSD) gearbox to ensure that both front tyres get an equal opportunity. Nankang’s sticky AR-1 tyre was chosen up front for good measure. 

The Detomaso was definitely a slept-on model of performance car in its time, and now they’re becoming very hard to find in New Zealand. Inside, they feature factory Recaro trim and a cool, red period-correct gauge cluster, which no doubt has had a workout recently. In our opinion, the Detomaso’s interior doesn’t need much more than what Suresh has updated it with. 

Although Suresh tells us the Detomaso is still on the market, he’s not going to be letting it go easily. However, he has told us the money is going into another project, so if it’s as wild as this one is, we can’t wait to see what he builds next, adding to the stock of wild performance cars doing the rounds here in New Zealand. 


This article originally appeared in New Zealand Performance Car issue 302