By on August 6, 2018

2000 Daewoo Leganza in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Daewoo wasn’t a well-known name in North America in the late 1990s, though quite a few Daewoo-built Pontiac Lemans cars were sold here during the 1988-1993 period. For the 1999 model year, a trio of Daewoo-badged cars appeared on these shores: the Lanos, the Nubira, and the Leganza.

The Leganza was the most luxurious of the Daewoo triumvirate (the bloodline of the Lanos lived on here after Daewoo departed the continent in 2002, as the Chevrolet Aveo and then the Sonic), and I photographed this crashed ’00 in a California self-service wrecking yard.

2000 Daewoo Leganza in California wrecking yard, decklid badge - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIf we are to believe Wikipedia, the name Leganza is a mashup of the Italian words Elegante and Forza.

2000 Daewoo Leganza in California wrecking yard, front seats - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 2000 Leganza was neither elegant nor forceful, but it was cheaper ($13,660, with manual transmission) than the most affordable Honda Accord sedan ($16,150). In fact, the Leganza didn’t cost much more than a smaller Civic or Corolla.

2000 Daewoo Leganza in California wrecking yard, odometer - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis one has just over 100,000 miles on the clock, and it looks to have been cared for well enough… until the crash that sent it to this place.

2000 Daewoo Leganza in California wrecking yard, engine - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsPower came from a 2.2-liter, Opel-designed/Holden-built four-cylinder making 131 horsepower. Isuzu Rodeos and Honda Passports got this engine as well, as the many tentacles of the GM octopus reached to the most distant corners of the land.

2000 Daewoo Leganza in California wrecking yard, Black Ice Little Trees - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI have photographed some discarded Daewoos during my wrecking-yard wanderings, but I still need to add a junked Lanos to my collection. This Leganza, like most worn-out cars that had luxury aspirations when new, has multiple Car-Freshner Little Trees inside. Black Ice is the most common junkyard scent for these trees, followed closely by Vanillaroma and New Car Scent.


Daewoo, that’s who!


Absolutely silent, in theory.


The Leganza was sold in Russia as the Doninvest Kondor, and this video sums up the Kondor Experience™ with, I think, great accuracy.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

47 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2000 Daewoo Leganza SE...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Several years ago a guy I worked with got one of those Capital One “blank checks” where you pick out a car and fill in the price. The vehicle had to be 5 years-old or newer, under a certain mileage,…..and couldn’t be a Daewoo.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    In my one year in Korea, I spent a lot of time zipping through town in Leganza taxis. They were crappy cars then too.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I lived in a town that had a Daewoo dealership when they pulled out of North America. I remember them running ads selling loaded Leganzas for $9,000. Shortly thereafter they became a VW dealership. Progress I suppose.

  • avatar
    millmech

    Dagwood Lasagna

  • avatar
    theflyingspamcan

    Someone spent almost 120,000 miles in pure misery…

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      That’s not a lot of miles for a car that old. I wonder why it’s just now showing up in a junkyard.

      Surely no one was holding on to it with the intention of restoring it someday.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro…’s gardener!

  • avatar
    geozinger

    “The Leganza was the most luxurious of the Daewoo triumvirate (the bloodline of the Lanos lived on here after Daewoo departed the continent in 2002, as the Chevrolet Aveo and then the Sonic),”

    Sorry, Murlee, I take issue with this entry.

    The Sonic and Aveo after 2011 was based on the GM Gamma II platform. No Daewoo in those cars as much as some might wish.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

      Sorry, you’re wrong there, geo. From GMInsideNews:

      “While the original Gamma was developed with Opel, Gamma II is under the leadership of GM Korea (formally GM Daewoo). Gamma II first launched with the 2010 Chevrolet Spark, and has since spawned the Chevrolet Sonic (Aveo), Opel Corsa, Opel Adam, and several other subcompact vehicles. GM eventually wants all small (A and B-class) vehicles to be on the Gamma II architecture.”

      https://www.gminsidenews.com/index.php?page=platform_guide

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Here’s this from Wikipedia: “Development of the second-generation Aveo was led by GM Korea, with Opel engineers leading platform development along with significant input from engineers from Australia’s Holden and Chevrolet of the United States. The Aveo marked the debut of the Gamma II global subcompact platform…”

        Sounds like GMK and GM Opel did the heavy lifting. Daewoo as a car company was long dead by then.

        It’s like saying Prince when referring to current day Nissan cars. Nissan bought Prince decades ago, no one refers to their cars Nissan-Princes…

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

          Certainly, because Prince Motor Company ceased to exist more than 50 years ago.

          Daewoo hadn’t been dead five years when “GM Korea” engineers started development on Gamma II, and it’s a safe bet a healthy number of them once had Daewoo on their security badges. The “bloodline” seems clear enough.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I would venture a guess that once GM completely bought the company out,they were able to provide resources, technical know-how, etc that wasn’t there before.

            But, its much easier to just assume the same factors were in play in order to make fun of them, even though the Sonic is so far ahead of the Lanos and first Aveo, clearly some changes a were made. Better funded with better resources? Nahh, its still 1999-level crap, amirite?

      • 0 avatar
        Carroll Prescott

        No one knows their platforms better than GM Sycophants – they specialize in this drivel because the cars that result from the platforms are uniformly uninteresting and designed to stay that way.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    “The Leganza was the most luxurious of the Daewoo triumvirate (the bloodline of the Lanos lived on here after Daewoo departed the continent in 2002, as the Chevrolet Aveo and then the Sonic),”

    Sorry, Murlee, I take issue with this entry.

    The Sonic and Aveo after 2011 was based on the GM Gamma II platform. No Daewoo in those cars as much as some might wish…

  • avatar
    e30gator

    I know there’s a lot of haters, but I don’t think these were “bad” cars overall considering their competition at the time. Hell, even contemporary Camrys and Malibus of this era felt cheap. Bang for buck, one could’ve found worse ways to drop $13k on a new car.

    I’ve ridden in many of these as taxis in Lima, Peru and though most are absolutely beat to $h!t, they seem to keep soldering on.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      It’s no 2000 Camry or Accord, but I agree, it’s not as bad as people are making it out to be. I’d say it’s fully competitive with something like a ’97-’03 Malibu, actually probably a better car overall.

      It’s too bad the US never got the Daewoo Espero, that was a fully modern and attractive car for the early 90s when it debuted.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Those Malibus were awful. I’d have taken a used Corsica or a Cutlass Ciera over a new Malibu of the era. Both seem more reliable and better built.

        My buddy recently traded in his 2003 Malibu on a Mazda Protegé5 with the 5 speed. He absolutely loves the Mazda. The dealer gave him a whole $100 for the ‘Bu, he was just glad to be rid of it. The damn steering rack fell out of it, for God sakes. And this is not in rust country.

        I remember driving brand new Malibus when I worked for the GM dealer in the early 2000s. Squeaks and rattles everywhere, and the brakes made awful noises and produced shudder when slowing down…on a brand new car!

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          We had a rental Malibu “Classic” in 2004, when GM went to the newer platform but cranked these out for a few more years with the old body style, much like they do the Cruze/Impala/Malibu “Limited” for fleets now. Ours was painted a really nice dark cherry red, but was pretty basically optioned with the 4cyl, cloth, and A/C. Man what a gruff engine climbing up hills in Central NY on Route 79 to NYC. Whatever qualms someone might have about the current “Limited” Malibu with the base 2.5, the gap (if there is one) in refinement between that and the current Camry is basically nonexistent compared to how crude that ’04 felt next to a Camry/Accord of that same era.

        • 0 avatar
          syncro87

          Blech…Corsicas. We had a few in our rental fleet when I worked for a company with an E in their logo.

          The steering column was not only off center in relation to the driver, the wheel was canted at an angle. IIRC, the left side of the wheel was farther away than the right to an obvious degree.

          Great if you had one arm longer than the other by an inch or so, I guess.

          My other Corsica memory was that there were some of them as taxis on Yongsan army base in Korea when I was in the Army. I’ve never ridden in a bigger rattle trap in my life than an army Corsica taxi. Total crap. They made the early 90’s Korean civilian Sonata taxis seem half decent.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            The Corsica was by no means a great car, they just seemed to have held up better. I also preferred them to the Cavalier, although they were an extension of the J body.

            I sold one (via the dealership I worked for, but not as a salesman) to my brother’s in-laws. They had it for many years and it served them well. Then, as it had mileage in the high 200s, they sold it and bought an Ion (sad trombone). The young lady they sold it to drove it for a few more years, until I think she hit a deer with it, or otherwise crashed it. The only major problem I know of that they had with it was the airconditioner failed at one point, but the car was quite old and had high mileage by then.

    • 0 avatar
      Carroll Prescott

      They were bad cars – if you saw their crash tests, you’d hate all day on them.

  • avatar
    mikestuff

    I flew from my home in Las Vegas to a funeral in Salt Lake City, February 2000. Didn’t feel like making that long drive on I15 in the winter. It was kind of sudden and for forgotten reasons, rental cars were short-handed that weekend and guess what I ended up with. I’ve rented lots of cars over the years and the Daewoo Leganza is to this day the only I remember specifically. It was slow, tight fitting for my normal-ish body and I remember that the dash controls were a mess. And of course Salt Lake City was hit with a nasty February snowstorm and the front wheel drive didn’t seem to work as one would expect. I was thinking about that time I should have driven up in my 1999 Explorer.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I believe that the next generation Leganza was sold in Canada, circa 2004 – 2006 as the Chevrolet Epica, a ‘near luxury’ sedan. It was also rebadged and sold in Canada as the Suzuki Verona.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      The U.S. got Suzuki Daewoos as well, including m-m-m-my Verona! (Sing to the tune of “My Sherona”).

      We also got the Suzuki Reno and Forenza, rebadged Daewoos. This was during Suzuki’s tie in with Daewoo, in which they owned a chunk of the company.

      I still find Suzuki Daewoos on craigslist for pennies. I think the cars damaged their reputation to a level from which it could not recover, and by the time they phased out the Daewoos for their own (far better) product, it was too late.

      Still, I kinda like the Verona. A transversely mounted Inline 6? Weird x10!

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        I’m amazed they went with the Forenza name in Canada – wasn’t there a GM Firenza sold in the early ’70s that became hugely infamous and led to a bunch of lawsuits?

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          There was an Oldsmobile Firenza in the 1980s, it was their version of the first-generation J car (Cavalier, Cimmaron, etc). I don’t know of any lawsuits related to it specifically, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Yes GM Canada imported Vauxhalls in the early/mid 1970’s as Pontiac Firenzas and lost a class action lawsuit regarding them.

          http://www.autofocus.ca/news-events/features/the-firenza-fiasco-is-the-canadian-nader-corvair-affair-you-never-heard-about

          This and the Rusty Ford owner class action were among the first large scale successful class actions in Canada against auto companies.

          All of the D3 companies brought at one point British cars as captive imports into Canada and with the exception of the Capri they were largely unsuccesful

          Regarding the disdain in which the 5th generation Malibu seems to be held, I disagree. Once the LG8 3100 was installed, if it was ‘maintained’ (intake gasket) it was a ‘reasonable’ runner, at a very good price. The styling though generic has held up nicely, certainly better than the following 6th generation. And the number that I still see running is quite impressive, although many have rust directly below the gas cap. The front brakes did eat the original rotors but after market improved this considerably.It would of course have benefited if a MT was available, which it was not.

          I had a ‘company’ subsidized Corsica and then replaced it with a Malibu and we all preferred the Malibu.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Interesting factoid: What else had a transversely mounted Inline 6?
        The Austin Maxi Landcrab and the Volvo S80.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        A transversely mounted inline 6…with the power of the competition’s 4!

        Still, given how rough a giant 4-cylinder can be, having a buttery inline 6 instead must have made the thing feel pretty premium for the price.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        I don’t think Suzuki owned part of Daewoo, but rather GM held stakes in both of them and foisted the janky Korean cars on the Japanese. As I recall, Suzuki was not happy about it.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Here’s what Giugiaro used as the basis for the Leganza – the 1990 Jaguar Kensington concept.
    https://cardesignnews.com/media/12315821/jaguar-kensington-8.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Giorgetto Giugiaro recycled that basic design language more than just for the Leganza; the Kensington concept was also the basis for the Toyota Aristo (aka Lexus GS) which is why the GS and Leganza share some similarities.

  • avatar
    jjthegreat

    Normally a lurker, but had to login to post. When I was younger and newly married, my wife and I bought a Lanos and Leganza DX (fully loaded with leather) for REALLY cheap as a used buy. I believe they were about 5 years old and a resale price of 3k and 4.5k respectively with 30k miles on the clock. The Lanos was a really cheap car but made it to 120k with a rear shock, brakes and a hood latch for repairs. No rattles or anything to complain about. The backseat was big enough for 2 adults comfortably. Was an ace of base with no options to break, but great for commuting. The SOHC 1.5l with a 5speed made 90? HP was that was enough to get out of its own way.
    The Leganza made it to about 140k with some exhaust and power steering hose issues. The timing belt was changed at 80k as it was a maintenance item. No one ever changed them hence why the DOHC Daewoos are off the road from timing/engine failures. Honestly, for a used buy they were solid cars until the tin worm eventually eats them.
    Say what you will about Daewoo, but at the time, they were a better buy than anything from KIA+Hyundai in terms of small/med passenger cars.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I was among the first group of student advisers who signed up to “advise” people about the Daewoos when they came out in 1997 to USA. I applied on line at my University’s library one day since I was bored with nothing to do. Three months later I got a phone call from local sales manager. I thought it was a scam to sell me a Daewoo but I went anyway. All it was required of us was: 1. Student in good standing, 2. no tickets or DUIs, 3. To contribute some of our time every month ( 2-3 hours) and go to local malls where the cars were shown.
    In return, we could chose either a Lanos, a Nubira or a Leganza ( 500 deposit) and drive it for 3 months. No insurance needed, just buy gas. We also got about 500 business cards with some sort of employee number in them. If we gave out a card and the person took it to the dealership and bought a car, we got a cut. I did it because my Honda Civic had 180,000 miles and no AC. I got a brand new loaded Nubira. It had sun roof, leather and CD player. Drove it for 3 months but I was very careful with it. Washed it, waxed it as my own cars. Other students were brutal with theirs.
    A few times I went to the local malls were the cars were shown and hang around for a few hours. I knew all about the engines, transmission, etc. Other kids didn’t give a crap. They were there for the free pizza. About two months into the program about 120 students country wide, got a free trip to S. Korea to see the Daewoo Empire. They’ve paid for everything…plane tickets, lodging, food. I had a great time. We were picked up at the airport and driven in luxury Daewoo coaches to a bunch of Daewoo owned factories and ship yards. I saw a weapons factory owned by Daewoo, ship yards, farms owned by Daewoo. At that time, Korea was divided in 3 conglomerates, Hyndai, Samsung and Daewoo. They owned everything in Korea. The farms, steel factories, suppliers, ship yards, ships which brought the cars to USA. So Daewoo cars got the leather for their interiors from Daewoo cows from Daweoo farms. The metal sheets for car bodies came from Daewoo steel plants. Most of the parts were coming from Daewoo suppliers. Then the assembled cars were shipped on Daewoo Ro-Ro ships built in Daewoo ship yards of course with Daewoo steel. For a 21 year old it was quite an experience to see what at that time was an empire. Of course, a few months later their chairman embezzled millions and ran away in Switzerland. It was the beginning of the end for the Daewoo Empire.
    As for my Nubira, I liked it for the 3 months I had it. I could have bought it 30% off but I didn’t want to have payments in college. It would have been about $10,000. I was worried about resale and company stability and I was right.

  • avatar
    RHD

    The Russians had it right, well, almost. The Doninvest Kondor should have been called the Doninvest Indislousycar.

  • avatar
    TwoBelugas

    The only thing I remember about the Leganza was at some point the local Daewoo dealer was advertising a low low price on a Leganza STD.

  • avatar
    Rick Schneider

    I worked for a Daewoo dealership back in 2001 as a salesman and those cars were a tough sell. Most of the customer traffic we got were actually there to look at the used lot containing Toyotas, Nissans, Hondas, etc. Our sales manager would try to direct used car buyers into buying brand new Daewoos instead, but most of them balked and walked away. Sales for Daewoos were slow and each salesperson would be lucky to sell 3 cars in a month. Daewoos quickly earned a bad reputation for transmission failures and became the laughing stock of the industry. Then, once rumours about a potential bankruptcy starting circulating in newspapers, showroom traffic came to a halt. I left at about the same time and they went into bankruptcy shortly thereafter.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ajla: You could do that on several FWD GM cars of the late 80s to early 90s as well.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird: I owned a 80 Toronado Diesel in Grey Firemist with the claret velour interior. The seats were quite...
  • Scoutdude: There are two different things going on here. The recall is for the X and panels that weren’t...
  • ToolGuy: redgolf, thank you for that link. Some eye-opening quotes there. “We want to lead in this space. We don’t...
  • Lightspeed: Maximum Brougham! Nice car, though I prefer the more nimble B-bodies of the era. The whole Chev engine in...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber