Daihatsu Trek

Car of the Day #114: 1985 Daihatsu Trek

Daihatsu Trek
1985 Daihatsu Trek concept • source unknown

Going where nobody has gone before is a bit difficult when so much of our world has been explored. Except for the oceans, but billionaires have sorted that part out…

Even Elon Musk said he was going to turn Wet Nellie, the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me he'd bought at auction, into a transforming submarine. (This was before he shot a Tesla Roadster into orbit.)

What about the rest of us? More specifically, how can you help one person get off of the beaten path?

In 1985, Daihatsu had a solution to helping people get out of doors — one soul per vehicle, mind — without the need for a massive off-roader. To my knowledge, it's one of only a small number of truly micro-sized on/off-roaders. 

A very blurry shot of its 'interior' • source unknown

This is the year in which Daihatsu apparently exhibited as many as 32 concept cars at the Tokyo Motor Show, so it's no surprise that each filled a very, very, very small niche. Theme? Little BIG Dream Car.

In the case of the single seat Daihatsu Trek, once you were at a place to camp, with a few minutes' work, you could fold everything down into a flat deck and erect a tent on top. Yes…this is literally a tent on wheels…

…that can’t be driven with the tent up. If it rains or weather happens, you’re forced with a choice: push on or wait it out in the world’s first car/tent/coffin.

Quiet Nerd Homemade Camper project • via YouTube

I haven’t seen anything like it until recently, when YouTube builder Quiet Nerd began popping up in my feed with an even lighter-duty machine that prioritizes its off-road tent functionality over on-roadability.

With Japan's low-speed vehicle classification (even Mitsuoka made a little Messerschmitt look-alike), you could conceivably drive a Trek into downtown Tokyo en route to Mount Fuju, camping in Lawson parking lots and rest areas along the way, but even with a front-mounted winch, there's little to suggest the Trek was more than a rolling concept. A shame. 

This may seem like a trivial thing to ask, but Daihatsu…where does our camping gear go?!


Thank you to my supporting members: Ben B., Brad B., Chris G., Daniel G., Damian S., Daniel P., Drew M., Ingrid P., Karl D., Luis O., Michael J., Michael L., Michelle S., Mike B., Mike L., Mike M., Richard W., Sam G., Sam L., Wiley H.