Although Daihatsu had only a five-year stint on American shores, the company has been around for a whole Benjamin in Japan. The dapper gent in the bowler you see on the right is Iyokuma Kurokawa, the first president of Hatsudoki Seizo Co., Ltd., the name that was used until the change to Daihatsu in 1951.
By December of 1907, the company had produced its first internal combustion engine, but its first car, if a three-wheeled motortrike with a pickup bed could be called that, wasn’t produced until 1930. In 1937 the FA, its first proper four-wheeler, debuted.
Many more followed, including the 4-seat convertible Compagno Spider, the iconic if politically incorrect Midget II, the Charmant, Charade and Rocky just to name a few. Daihatsu even had some early racing success with the class-winning P5 at the Japanese Grand Prix.
In 1967 it partnered with Toyota, a relationship that grew ever closer until its full buyout in 1999. Still, the brand maintains its own kei-centric identity with cars small enough you could carry them home in your wheel-shaped Hot Wheels case. The only non-keis in the lineup are rebadged Toyotas like the Altis/Camry.
A special page documenting the Daihatsu timeline can be found here. And although that page doesn’t seem to have updated to reflect this, earlier last month Daihatsu opened a museum to mark the centennial.