Junkyard Find: 1988 Hyundai Excel

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1988 hyundai excel

I stand firm in my belief that the first-gen Hyundai Excel was the worst automobile available in America during the last quarter of the 20th century, and that includes the wretched Yugo GV (if the Austin Rover Group had imported the Metro to these shores, however, the Excel might have been knocked from its dubious pedestal). You don’t see these cars on the street, and they’re very rare in junkyards, but I’ve managed to find three of the things this year.

There was this ’87, then this ’86, and today’s find finishes out the trio. I found each of these cars in Northern California yards, which must mean something.

By 1988, some of the worst bugs had been worked out of the Excel. This one has a few luxury touches, including an automatic transmission.

Buy two!

A lot of rare-on-the-street cars sit in driveways or backyards for many years before getting scrapped, but this car has two-year-old San Francisco parking permits. You can tell from the thickness of the stack of stickers that it lived on SF streets— some of the toughest on cars in the country— for a decade or more. What stories this car could tell!

But then there’s the matter of just 36,000 miles on the clock. Perhaps it was driven sparingly.

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2 of 49 comments
  • Djkenny Djkenny on Dec 26, 2013

    Too bad the guy with 100k, did not replace the timing belt. Likely would have gotten a reasonable amount of additional service. But.. Yes, the transmissions were weak. So that would have failed, if he hadn't rebuilt it already. They were slow. Looked okay.

  • Laserwizard Laserwizard on Feb 18, 2016

    My Mom had a 1986 that she bought - it was dependable and held up well enough for her to get $500 less for it in trade-in than she paid for it. I know - I acted as her "agent" on both original deal and when she traded it in on a 1989 Ford T-Bird - a sale that took three days to complete because I held the line on what the trade-in would be and what we'd pay for the new Ford. The dealer relented at the end of the month and she had her "bird" for 15 years until she traded it for a 2004 Focus Wagon which she still has and loves dearly (trouble free car). TTAC lambasts these Excels - I sense a distinct pro Honduh bias here which proves that there is no truth about cars being presented here.

  • ToolGuy 404 error on the product link. Which probably isn't terrific marketing on TTAC's part. https://thinkwarestore.com/product/f200-pro-ca
  • ToolGuy Second picture: Do you like pegboard storage? (I don't.)
  • ToolGuy "WHAT???"(old 'I was in the artillery' joke)
  • ToolGuy Oh and this.
  • ToolGuy "The boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon, and Harrow have likewise announced plans to take legal action to force a possible judicial review..."But: "In Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire... Hurricanes hardly happen."