Daihatsu Wildcat TAFT F20: how I found and restored this unique vehicle
The Wildcat suffered not one, but two floods and remained untouched for 9 years. Just a piece of junk, nothing more.
Sunu Babu recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
After working in the computer industry for 11 years, I was waiting for a unique 4 wheeler that I could restore, when I found a Daihatsu Wildcat TAFT F20. The vintage beauty has been abandoned in the corner of a workshop at Aluva Market. I wanted to wake up this sleeping beauty and bring her back to life.
The Wildcat suffered not one, but two floods and remained untouched for 9 years. It was completely rusted, with no carburetor, distributor, cylinder head, radiator, dashboard, seats and windshield – just a piece of junk. It belonged to Jijo Joseph, a vintage car collector based in Aluva and was originally imported from Dubai. It is a very rare and unique vehicle, probably the only one in India.
I started by restoring the 12R engine and therefore disassembled everything. I ordered parts and an engine rebuild kit from Japan and Indonesia and started assembling everything from scratch. The 1.6-liter gasoline engine started on the first attempt.
The body mechanics struggled with the scrap car because they hadn’t had another vehicle like this before to work on. But, I appreciate their patience to build the body and the result. I love the design of pickups, so I closed the Wildcat cab, making it a two-seater. When it was ready to be painted, the first thing that came to mind was the yellow-white combination of the Toyota FJ40. Brilliant yellow stands out in a crowd with pearl white on the roof and steel rims. Some of the unique features of the Wildcat are:
- The original turn signals and taillights were imported from Colombia.
- The stock 6J-width steel rims were customized to 9J to accommodate wider MT tires.
- The dashboard was built in teak wood and new counters were installed.
- The steering wheel was taken from an old Willys and the tie rod was customized to fit it.
- There was no hardwire kit available for the Wildcat. So, expert electricians designed the wiring from scratch.
- The bed liner was constructed from mahogany wood and steel strips were fitted between each wood panel.
- The seats were custom made.
It took 2 years to build this beast, but it was worth the time. Bringing life back to something that was abandoned made me very happy!
Technical specifications of the Daihatsu Wildcat TAFT F20:
- The term “TAFT” stands for “Tough and Almighty Four-Wheel Touring Vehicle”
- The 1.6 L (1,587 cc) 12R was produced from 1969 to 1988. It was also built in the Philippines as the 12R-M by Toyota’s local subsidiary, Delta Motors Corporation.
Technical characteristics of the engine:
- Four cylinder, 4 stroke, OHV
- Bore × stroke: 80.5 mm × 78 mm (3.17 in × 3.07 in)
- Compression ratio: 8.5:1
- Maximum power: 90 PS (66 kW / 89 BHP) at 5400 rpm SAE
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