By on July 18, 2012

One thing I’ve noticed after decades of prowling high-turnover self-service wrecking yards is the increasing average age of junked Hyundais. The first-gen Excel started showing up in junkyards in large quantities when the cars were about five years old (i.e., the worst car available in North America during the second half of the 20th century), and by the mid-1990s they were all gone. These days, most of the Crusher-bound Hyundais I see are more like 15 years old, about halfway between the average age of junked Chryslers and junked Hondas. The Tiburon has been around since 1997, and this is perhaps the third one I’ve seen in this setting.
Because I’ve never seen a Tiburon in a 24 Hours of LeMons race, I can infer that even beat examples are worth something (or LeMons racers are so terrified by the Excel’s reputation that they want nothing to do with any Hyundai product).
Not quite 150,000 miles on the clock, then a cosmetically disfiguring crash and probably some mechanical problems made this car not worth fixing up. The first of many Tiburons to show up in the self-serve yards?
After the 60-year-old Kaiser we saw yesterday, I felt it was time for a somewhat less elderly Junkyard Find. Speaking of which, I haven’t gotten around to making computer wallpaper images from the Brain Melting Junkyard photo sessions, but you can find plenty of free junkyard wallpapers at my site.

Korean-market car ads are always so macho. The Tiburon was a bullet!

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35 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2001 Hyundai Tiburon...”

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Being a good Catholic, I love all of God’s creatures (except fire ants and tree roaches), but I have to say the Tiburon had one ugly-ass front end….

    • 0 avatar

      i disagree. we had one until recently and I absolutely loved it. the 97 celica also has a simular front end but they both look really awesome in my opinion.

      The Veilside body kit looks awesome on them too.

  • avatar

    One of the first Hyundai products that actually wasnt THAT bad, quality wise. My car has the same 2.0l 16v engine and in my Spectra which is heavier, it is peppy with the 5speed manual. Their products only improved from this point, to where they are today.

    • 0 avatar

      This is the first Hyundai that got my attention. I was a teenager when this came out. Ended up owning a 2004 Tiburon GT (next gen after this) with a 6 speed. Was fun to drive and a great value for what it was. Traded that for a new Elantra which has been flawless over 4 years of ownership.

      My 08 elantra has the last iteration of this engine (at least in the US), overhauled to be smoother, quieter, more durable and w/ the addition of cvvt. It is quite peppy with the 5 speed. First gear is so short it gets you moving fast and second keeps up the pace. Not much going on once you reach cruising speed though.

    • 0 avatar

      My 01 Elantra is the same car, basically, with about 180k on it. Vehicles like this established Hyundai’s building/improving reputation.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Looks like the Hyundai designers used the Celica from that era as a model and agreed to make it uglier. Folks, don’t be surprised by this find, remember H/K were known as disposable cars, well here is a perfect example, if this had been a Corolla or Civic it would have been repaired

  • avatar

    I never liked the the body of this car. They need to smooth the whole car out and it wouldn’t be so ugly. I hate the swoosh on the side. Its amazing how far Hyundai has come.

  • avatar

    This is from that awkward period when Hyundai had mostly sorted out their build quality and reliability issues, but before they had figured out how to do styling that appealed to Western tastes.

    Every Asian automaker went through a similar progression. The Japanese had their funkier styling in the 60s and 70s, then went to bland and safe in the 80s and 90s, and some of them are just now starting to get a bit more adventurous.

    As you would expect, the South Koreans condensed the timeline quite a bit. Bizzare looking in the 90s, bland in the 00s, and creatively stylish in the 10s.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Booger alert on digit 7 of the odometer.


  • avatar

    I thought the Tiburon looked good at the time, and the Accent. Did not like that generation Elantra or Sonata. But at least they were unabashedly Korean, and somewhat different from everything else on the road.

  • avatar

    I am surprised Hyundais are not good LeMons cars, they all had Mitsu engines for a while that were pretty robust. Lot of 4G63t swapped Excels etc clinging to dear life.

    • 0 avatar

      “Robust” is one word for them. “Underpowered and poorly designed” would be a better description. Any time something broke on my father’s ’94 Elantra (which was allergic to hills) he would learn that the part was inextricably attached to some larger module of some sort and that the whole thing had to be swapped out at some egregious price.

      • 0 avatar

        Even with a rough guide in hand, locating the turn signal relay in my friend’s old ’98 Tiburon was… not an enjoyable experience, and having owned a few Volvos, I know a few things about electrical repairs.

        The car was fun, though, despite its faults. It may have been cheap, and the shifter may have been a vague approximation, but in the rain, you could keep the front tires spinning into third.

  • avatar

    The Tib was, shall we say, ‘design-challenged’ until its last iteration and even then it took a few slight mods to make it look really good.

    One of the funniest pieces that Top Gear did was a comparison btwn the Tib and the Lexus SC.

    • 0 avatar

      And they Tib WON! One might say the Tib grew up and became the Gen Coupe. The side swoop/hard crease line is kind of a Hyundai trademark now and I think this might be the first of their cars to feature it.

  • avatar

    A garbage bin beaten by the ugly stick. Finally is where it belonged from day one.
    Nuff said.

  • avatar

    This is the part where the Kimchi-haters usually come in and say “Any car can last X years. Show me a Hyundai that lasts X+5 years and I will be impressed.”

    Nothing? Anyone?

  • avatar

    “The first of many Tiburons to show up in the self-serve yards?”

    I haven’t seen one on the road in years. If they were to suddenly start showing up in junkyards, I’d have to wonder where they’ve been.

  • avatar

    Give this a few inches and you get a Juke.

  • avatar

    I remember when new these were the number one most stolen cars. Someone liked them a lot.

  • avatar

    Sure beats a Scoupe.

  • avatar

    Hyundai introduced their 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty in 1998. Given that, it’s not a huge surprise to see relatively few recent ones in a junkyard. A lot of cars like this one only went out of warranty a year or two ago — and I’d wager that warranty service means a lot of the >100k cars were in a lot better shape than average when they *hit* 100k.

  • avatar

    Tee-burr-own, huh. I had always thought is was tib-urr-on.

  • avatar

    I had a black 2000 MY version of this car. Women LOVED it. It had a totally unique design, both inside and out. You can say that this was either a good or a bad thing, based on your opinion of it. I think I paid around $13K for mine, and most people thought it was considerably more expensive than that.

    It wasn’t the fastest thing around, but it was pretty cool for my 22-year-old self.

  • avatar

    Can’t agree that the Excel was the worst vehicle sold in the USA in the second half of the 20th century. Take your pick from:
    – 1987 Yugo
    – 1960 Renault Dauphine
    – 1957 Toyota Crown

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