Not just retro

An interesting feature of this model was, according to Daihatsu tradition, good use of space offering comfort for four passengers, thanks also to its generous wheelbase

The phenomenon of retro cars has long been pivotal for some manufacturers, producing modern products inspired by cars from their past and giving birth to a fashionable operation capable of sustaining them over the years. In addition to the 500 produced by Fiat, another main revival is BMW’s successful new MINI. These cars are, however, often inspired by their ancestors purely in terms of the design, which is actually their real key to success, since evoking vintage lines with a touch of modernity attracts both young and old with nostalgia for the old days. So just style, but from the technical point of view there are few references to the past. This is also due to standardisation in modern cars and the stringent safety regulations. We cannot forget, for example, that the main reason for the success of the Mini was the record-breaking habitability in relation to its tiny size, a feature certainly not present on the new version, which doesn’t offer small dimensions nor does it have a great deal of interior space.

We will obviously not talk about the several honourable examples in the article but will focus instead on a car which is only little-known in Italy but which deserves to be remembered since, in addition to its retro style, it also offers some interesting technical content, setting it apart from its competitors. Daihatsu, dating back to 1906, is the oldest Japanese car manufacturer, always finding a way to stand out with its reliable, compact and extremely versatile products. It is not a defunct brand, since it enjoys excellent health on its home market, but has been absent from European markets for years and thus risks falling into oblivion. Of all the Daihatsu production we will focus on a particular model in this article, the Mira Gino, which first appeared in 1999 as a chic-retro derivative of the Mira L700 model, known to us as the Cuore. The first series of the car offered two different body styles, 3- or 5-doors and, from a stylistic point of view, featured a front with circular headlights evoking the 1959 Mini. Initially it was powered by a 658 cc naturally-aspirated or turbo engine, but subsequently, from 2002, also in a 1000 cc version. Two years later, in 2004, came the second series, only produced in a 5-door version and characterised by its vintage style but more modern and rounded. It always nodded to the English car, even if it appeared from some angles, particularly the rear three-quarters, to resemble to Austin / Morris 1100.

The last series, from May 2006 to March 2010, was also imported into Europe with the name Trevis. Unlike in some countries, where there was a wide variety of differently trimmed versions, it was only available in Italy with a full complement of equipment, including nice alloy wheels, radio, four electric windows and the option of 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission for the same price. The only option was metallic paint. An interesting feature of this model was, according to Daihatsu tradition, good use of space offering comfort for four passengers, thanks also to its generous wheelbase. It also had an eye on practicality, with numerous storage compartments and a glove box in its elegant dashboard. Access was easy thanks to doors which opened 90o. It was also very easy to drive and handle, especially on busy city streets, thanks to its 58 bhp 1000 cc 3-cylinder engine, which provided excellent performance, thanks to the light weight of the car, and made it fun to drive. Despite its short life in Europe, the Trevis has a circle of fans with an Official Club based in Italy! Indeed Roberta Sciori, enthusiastic Trevis owner, has created the Trevis Club, where owners of the small city car can sign up to exchange views on the world of Daihatsu and keep alive interest in a car, which surely knew out to stand out.

Text by Tommaso Lai

Translation by Norman Hawkes

Copyright © Cars Forgotten Stories. All rights reserved.


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