Junkyard Find: 1988 Mitsubishi Precis

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1988 mitsubishi precis

The Hyundai Excel had a Mitsubishi engine, and so some obscure tenet of badge engineering mandated a Mitsubishi-branded Excel so it might drive on the same roads as Plymouth-branded Mitsubishis.

This was the Mitsubishi Precis, a car that was so stunningly bad and such a poor seller that this one is the first and only example I have ever seen in all my years of crawling through wrecking yards.

That makes it one of the rarest cars … in the world.

Hyundai makes good cars now, but the early Excel was about as bad a motor vehicle as you could buy in the mid-to-late 1980s (and I include the Yugo GV in that assessment). This one managed to get the odometer into the six-figure range, which makes it one of the most reliable first-gen Excels ever manufactured.

Americans had bought Mitsubishis since the Dodge Colts of the early 1970s, but you couldn’t buy a vehicle with Mitsubishi badges until the 1983 model year. Perhaps the Mitsubishi top brass felt that the Precis would give all those new dealerships in the United States another subcompact to sell alongside the Mirage.

68 horsepower. Yes, 68.

With the automatic, this car would have been hilariously slow even by the tolerant standards of 1988.

According to this schmaltzy ad, the car’s name is pronounced “PREE-ciss.”

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

Join the conversation
2 of 68 comments
  • INeon INeon on May 26, 2016

    We turned one of these over in auto shop class back in 1995 or 1996. Big trouble. They paddled us for it! We were really bad. Did you know it only takes a 9v battery to pop the airbags on an Olds Ninety Eight?

  • Yetibiker Yetibiker on May 29, 2016

    My first car was a 1989 Hyundai Excel with 40k miles and a 5 speed for $800 in 1998. I had my dad take it for a test drive. He felt strongly that I should buy it, so I did. It was such a pile. 68 horsepower and I remember a speed run downhill with a good tailwind got me up to 78 mph and the tach (which I pulled out of a better equipped model in a junkyard) was stuck at an insurmountable 3400 rpm. It had sizable rust holes in the rear quarters, which I used to duct cool air through dryer vent across my cheap "Sunday!SundaySunday! Amp that would constantly cut out due to overcurrent. . I put a big sticker in the back window that said "Honk if anything falls off" and cruised the ave like the kids in cooler cars.

  • El scotto It's said that many military regulations are written in blood. Every ship's wheel or aircraft joystick has a human hand on it at all times when a ship or aircraft are under power. Tanks, APC's and other ground vehicles probably operate under the same rules. Even with those regulations accidents still happen. There is no such thing as an unmanned autopilot, ever. Someone has to be on the stick at all times.I do not think MB understands what a sue-happy nation the USA is. The 1st leased MB in a wreck while this Type 3 "Semi-Autonomous" driving, or whatever it is called, will result in an automatic lawsuit. Expect a class action lawsuit after the 1st personal lawsuit is filed. Yes, new MB owners can afford and ever are lawyers.Mercedes Benz; "The best wrecks or nothing!" Oh and has anyone noticed that Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura, the gray suit with white shirt and striped tie, automobile companies have stayed away from any autonomous driving nonsense?
  • Merc190 Very streamlined but not distinctive enough for a Mercedes. And besides, the streetcar of the early 20th century seems a far more efficient and effective method of people moving in essentially an autonomous manner. A motor car is meant to be driven with proper attention to what's important in every situation. To design it otherwise is idiotic and contradictory.
  • Abqhudson Passenger seating in recent accords has been unacceptable with my 5’2” wife forced to look at the dash while sitting in the hole provided.
  • ToolGuy Real Subarus are green and coated with dust from at least three different National Parks (Gateway Arch doesn't count).
  • ToolGuy Good for them.(And their customers. $2500 first-year subscription on top of the system cost? That ain't me)