Last night, it happened again. Like a shot, I was awake, drenched in sweat. I looked at my headboard and cursed my bloody fingernails. Scratched into the wood once more, I’d scrawled “WHY DID DAIHATSU NAME ITS 1970S JEEP TAFT??” Now, finally, I have an answer, and hopefully, resolution.
The Daihatsu Taft isn’t a particularly well-known car in America. Daihatsu never sold the Taft here in the States, though it shared its name with our girthsome 27th President and 10th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. We did get the Taft’s successor, the spritely Daihatsu Rocky, and we might have gotten a rebadged version of the Taft called the Toyota Blizzard. (I’m not sure about official imports, though I know a handful are on North American soil.) But we got no Daihatsu Tafts in and of themselves, for any time in its 1974 to 1984 production run.
The Jeep-esque trucklet started out with a mere 1.0 liter inline four-cylinder gas engine, pushing around about 2,200 pounds with four-wheel drive, though it later got bigger gas and diesel four-cylinders from 1.6 to 2.8 liters. The specs are not important. The name is important.
Again, I, like many other Americans, assumed that the Taft was named after our Taft. I found no evidence to the contrary. Hence the night-scratchings.
But then I decided to check not the car’s wikipedia page, but rather its Japanese wikipedia page and found something I couldn’t quite believe until I found it in official Daihatsu literature.
Tough Almighty Four-Wheel Touring Vehicle: TAFT
Some parts of the Daihatsu website call it Tough And Almighty Four-Wheel Touring Vehicle, but importantly no large prez. Only almighty touring.
Now, this is not a definitive answer. It’s only the answer that Daihatsu wants me to believe. This could be, as the phrase is common in the military, a backronym. That is, maybe someone at Daihatsu secretly loved President Taft, longingly
As it is, I can finally rest easy, and it might be time for me to buy a nail clipper.