I was go to college in Southern California 1986 driving an affordable Detroit Hoptie like most of my colleagues (because just a nobody went) when I noticed something odd in the campus parking lots: lots brand new cars! More specifically, incredibly affordable brand new cars from two manufacturers no one had heard of: Yugo and Hyundai. How we all know, Malcolm Bricklin’s Yugo GV went on to become a big jokethe country that produced it gone from world mapsand The assembly plant was destroyed …but Hyundai became a huge player in the American market. Here is one of the cars that was first made يک„ëŒ€ىگëڈ™ى°¨ê ¸ë£¹ is a familiar name here recently found at a Denver area scrapyard.
The Yugo GV was hilariously cheap, with a price tag of just $4,199 for the base three-door hatchback in 1988 (that’s about $10,805 in 2022, or nearly three grand less than you’d pay the cheapest new car in America today). But the much larger and better equipped 1988 Hyundai Excel started at just $5,295 (now $13,625).
That was incredible cheap for a new car that challenged the $5,495 Chevy Sprint$5,999 Mazda 323$5,556 Subaru Justy$5,899 Dodge/Plymouth Colt$5,995 Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon$5,948 Toyota Tercel EZ$5,490 Ford Festival and $5,990 Volkswagen fox for sub-$6,000 dominance (six grand comes to about $15,439 after inflation). The Yugo, Sprint, Justy and Festiva were tiny fake cars, not suitable for tournaments with battered Plymouth Furies and Lincoln Mark Vis on the 405so the Excel looked by far the best car-per-dollar deal in America in the mid-to-late 1980s.
A few decades on, however, tell us that early Excel wasn’t all that well screwed together. Hyundai’s build quality has been solid ever since, at least Mid 1990s, but the early Excels tended to fall apart in a hurry. I remember visiting California junkyards in the early 1990’s and being startled to find Excels still shiny with less than 30,000 miles on their odometers alongside the dilapidated ones Super Beetle and anger-junked Renault alliances. If I was taken back in the time machine to 1988 with orders to buy under $6,000 new car that had a good chance of lasting at least a quarter of a century, I would take the Tercel EZ or 323 (and then do all the maintenance on point).
Being an automatic transmission sedan and the GL trim level being a notch above the base trim level, the MSRP was well above the $6,000 threshold: $7,145 ($18,385 in 2022). This is still path cheaper than an 88 flower crown or Civil Slushbox sedan ($9,358 and $9,655 respectively), and the Excel’s specs looked somewhat similar to the Corolla and Civic.
The engine is a Mitsubishi-derived four-cylinder with 68 hp. Smart Excel owners avoided drag racing with anything faster than Yugos and Diesel Volkswagen.
The automatic transmission added a whopping $450 (now $1,158) to the cost of this car. American drivers loved automatic transmissions almost as much in 1988 as they do now, but two-pedal rigs were expensive and Excels were bought at the price, so most of them had the base Five-speed manual gearbox.
Not even 100,000 km on the clock. Since most Excels died quite young, it is difficult to find them found in the Bone Courts today. I suspect this was a Sunday church only car, regularly serviced by its sole owner. Amazingly, I’ve found a junkyard Excel with almost a quarter of a million miles; not at the top with the 600,000 miles I find during My junkyard travelsbut still impressive.
It’s a bit rusty, although the body filler may have slowed the leakage into the trunk.
It is crushed very close to where it was sold new.
The Excel wasn’t a good car, but it was important Car and thus a large part of our automotive heritage. That makes this one one jewel.
Buy two for the cost of an average car! A new Chevy celebrity costs about the same as a pair of Excel 5-speed hatches in 1988, so this ad isn’t fake.