Like Suzuki with their evolution from LJ80
to Sierra, so too did Daihatsu evolve the F20
to the Rocky. It was none too late either, as the F20 was certainly not an attractive vehicle, and by 1984
Daihatsu had been losing ground to the better looking Sierra for 18 months.
The Rocky changed all that though, combining rugged construction with advanced styling and high tech engineering. Upgraded engine options combined with proven transmission and drive train components to ensure that, under the aerodynamic bodyshell, traditional Daihatsu off-road dependability was retained.
The top-of-the-line EX long wheel base variant also offered a new three way electroinically adjustable suspension management system. The resin-top LWB Rocky also featured standard power steering, a sunroof and panorama windows in the rear - a far cry from the F20!
There were plenty of other Rocky variants on offer too, models including a soft top short wheelbase, two hard top short wheelbase models, and two long wheelbase resin top models. The range ad the further option of proven Daihatsu 2.8 liter diesel
or 2.0 liter petrol engines.
Both engines proved very capable, and were mated to Daihatsu's proven five speed manual transmission which featured a two stage transfer case allowing the Rocky driver access to four wheel drive while on the move. The front suspension used leaf springs with gas pressure shock absorbers giving plenty of traction over the roughest surfaces.
A Panhard rod and rigid anti-roll bar helped ensure a degree of comfort while on the black top, while the rear suspension featured leaf springs, gas pressure shock absorbers and a rigid rear axle.
A revolutionary, electronically activated three-state shock absorber control system came standard on the EX long wheelbase resin top, which allowed the driver to vary the suspension settings to suit the terrain whilst on the move by opening a valve in the shock absorbers to give soft, intermediate and hard settings.
Functional and modern, the Rocky was in its day very popular, and deservedly so. Its credentials as a comfortable and capable four wheel drive at a great entry price were unrivaled.
The Rocky went on to enjoy a long 15 year stay, however in the latter years the vehicle was seen as rather primitive. The 2.0 liter petrol engine was phased out in 1989, followed by the non-turbo diesel
in 1990 (the non-turbo engine remained an option in the cab-chassis until 1993). By the mid 1990's the off road virtues of leaf spring suspension were largely forgotten, and the competition had evolved well beyond the solid underpinnings of the Rocky. What was once seen as solid was now perceived as primitive.