- Written by webmin
We’ve made some fairly safe choices these first few weeks into the Class of 1986. Nothing wrong with that, of course – just laying the groundwork. So let’s now go out on a limb with this week’s choice: the Hyundai Excel.
It’s a safe bet that nobody reading this (and perhaps nobody in general) is a devotee of mid-1980s Hyundais the same way they are with mid-1950s Chevrolets or Ford Mustangs. If there’s a club for the Hyundai Excel anywhere outside of South Korea, I’d be shocked and amazed. If there’s anybody modifying or restoring these cars, I’d have to wonder what planet they’re from. They were designed, above everything else, to be cheap. Not just inexpensive, not just frugal, but downright cheap. The same way your television set and refrigerator and DVD player are designed not around passion, but around a price point. And that strategy worked, kinda. In 1986, the debut year for Hyundai in the United States, the little Excel set a record for first-year import sales with 126,000. But quality issues resulting from the cheapness of the cars and from the Excel being Hyundai’s first attempt at building a front-wheel-drive car (the Excel only debuted in its home market in 1985) quickly tarnished the brand’s reputation and dealerships soon dropped their Hyundai franchises. The Hyundai appeared to be another Yugo fiasco.
Yet Hyundai remains in business in the United States and is fast becoming a major player in the global automotive scene, which makes the 1986 Excel historically significant as the first Korean car in America, if not desirable. And as we’ve seen with many other cars and technologies throughout automotive history, a quarter-century of hindsight can often lead to wholesale re-evaluation of a car. The Excel did, after all, appeal to a great number of people when new.
So, as we’ve been asking for each of our Class of 1986 candidates, would you make room for a 1986 Hyundai Excel in your dream garage filled only with 1986 vehicles (presuming, of course, not every 1986 Excel was traded in during Cash for Clunkers)? Or would you pass on the Excel for something else?
While we’re at it, how about this TV ad for the 1986 Excel. Note how it’s always going downhill…
UPDATE: Hugo90′s come through with not only a brochure cover showing the Excel as an entry-level Mitsubishi, but also with Hyundai’s first U.S. press release and press photo.