Junkyard Find: 1991 Hyundai Scoupe

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Here’s another one for the “Whatever Happened To…” file: the Hyundai Scoupe. I’m in Southern California for a couple of days, prior to heading north with Judge Jonny to judge at the Skankaway Anti-Toe-Fungal 500, and decided to visit one of the junkyards that provided many of the parts for the ’65 Impala Hell Project. Right away, I find a car I’d forgotten even existed.

The Hyundai Scoupe was a crypto-sporty coupe version of the second-gen Excel; by this time, the Excel wasn’t quite as terrible as the worst car of the 1980s, including the Yugo, but it was still bad enough that just about every example was crushed before Bill Clinton left the White House. That makes this car a rare find indeed.

Imagine you’re a young car shopper in 1990, having to choose between a new Scoupe and maybe a three-year-old Plymouth Turismo Duster.

Could this be the last Scoupe in the world?

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Marissar731 Marissar731 on Dec 09, 2011

    I actually have one :)

  • Richink Richink on Dec 12, 2011

    Anyone who has anything bad to say about these cars has either a) never owned one b) doesn't get what Hyundai was after with these or c) had unreasonable expectations. I love the well written diatribes that cut up these cars and several others with no relation, but you all miss the point entirely. A Hyundai Excel could be had for under $7k in 1991, one of these in a "Special Edition" model that had everything in it from a sunroof to a cd player (1991 wow options) was barely over $10k. You couldn't buy a base model Civic for that. Having worked in Hyundai dealerships at that time I can say from experience that the "talk" of Hyundai quality and durability being not up to snuff at that time was/is still a stinking pile of crap. The issue was almost always with customers. They were scraping the bottom of the barrel with people, most had never owned a new car, or were trading in their ratty 10 year old piece of schyte. I could tell you a thousand stories of abuse/misuse/wrong maintenance that lead to every issue under the sun. That said, those who knew how to properly maintain and drive a car never had an issue with any of these cars. We routinely saw them with 300,000+++ km; rust tended to be the killer more than anything else.

    • YuriiGT YuriiGT on Nov 01, 2012

      Absoulutely thumbs up for richink, I have already 3rd. Scoupe GT (turbo), and all its problems was caused by rust (here in europe its quite common problem) and bad maintennance or driving style (revving up the cold engine whit turbo and so on...). Its not comfortable, fast or representative car but i still love them :)

  • GBJT I think there are still non-turbo cars.
  • Slavuta US has created a game called "Free trade" and bashed any country that in US's view somehow interfered with that. Now that countries learned how to beat US at its own game, US does what? - right. smashes the board,
  • Brandon Hyundai doesn't make a mid size truck. The Santa Cruz is a compact truck. And having owned a maverick I can tell you it was a great truck and it outsells the Santa Cruz by a huge margin
  • Kwik_Shift Nothing of interest to me from BYD. All bland and generic knock-offs.
  • Jkross22 I know this is TTAC, but shouldn't the US government and the politicians we elect be more focused on more pressing issues? I'll just spitball a few, less politically charged ones for fun..... Why can't the FAA hold Boeing and the airlines accountable for flying planes with bolts that don't come undone and wings that don't fall apart? What about crime and homelessness and inflation and cost of secondary education at public colleges and trade schools? Yeah, yeah, we don't want the Chinese to run over domestic car makers. Go tell Ford and GM. They've contributed to the concern. Is Stellantis even considered domestic anymore? Aren't they French or Italian or Bolivian?