Junkyard Find: 1987 Hyundai Excel With Not-Rare-Enough Zero-Options Package

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1987 hyundai excel with not rare enough zero options package

I can’t think of any vehicle manufacturer whose products improved as much and as quickly as Hyundai’s did between the ghastly first-gen Excel and the very nice Hyundais of, say, the current century.

The only new US-market car that was cheaper than the first Excel was the Yugo GV (which was, arguably, the better car), and in all my years of junkyard crawling I have never seen any vehicle that got discarded in larger quantities before reaching ten years of age (in fact, lots of Excels appeared at U-Wrench-It before their fifth birthdays).

This means that 1985-89 Excels are exceedingly rare in junkyards today, so I always photograph them when I find them. So far in this series, we have seen this ’86, this ’87, this ’88, and now today’s depressingly un-loaded ’87, which is as far advanced from today’s nice Hyundais as is a cargo-cult wicker plane from a Boeing 787.

This car has block-off plates for every available dash option, from radio to clock to rear defroster button.

Five-speed transmissions are for the weak! Do you think noted South Korean strongman Syngman Rhee would have approved of his troops driving Excels with five speeds? Hell no!

I’d normally assume that an 89,543-mile Excel had broken something major in about 1990 and then sat dead in a driveway for 25 years prior to being sold for scrap.

However, I happened to shoot a photo with the car’s VIN, which allowed me to check the California smog-check history database for the car’s testing history. It turns out that it last passed the smog check (after failing twice), as recently as December 2014, and had been getting smogged regularly going back as far as the available records.


The Excel was the car that inspired the line at 2:40 in Glengarry Glen Ross: “You know why, mister? Because you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight! I drove an $80,000 BMW— that’s my name.”

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  • Guy922 Guy922 on Feb 08, 2016

    I had a neighbor growing up in Denver who had a 1987 Excel sedan in white. It was actually well cared for, It had been in regular use up to at least 2007. The only one I remember in use recently. I love this kind of bare bones find. No tach with a manual trans. Vinyl seating that looks to have held up well. Nice find!

  • Jamescyberjoe Jamescyberjoe on Dec 03, 2016

    I had a GF once that had this same model. I think it was a similar color but at least it did have that Panasonic cassette stereo system that Hyundai used to prominently advertise back then. It was the only good thing about the car. It was always breaking. Always. And that stick was a real workout. I got one of the best BJ's from her in that car...that's why I remember it so fondly

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  • ToolGuy Oh and this.
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