Junkyard Find: 2000 Daewoo Leganza SE

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

If we are to believe Wikipedia, the name Leganza is a mashup of the Italian words Elegante and Forza.

The 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.

This 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.

Power 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.

I 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.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • TwoBelugas TwoBelugas on Aug 13, 2018

    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.

  • Rick Schneider Rick Schneider on Sep 24, 2018

    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.

  • Doug brockman hardly. Their goals remain to punish us by mandating unsafe unreliable unaffordable battery powered cars
  • Lorenzo It looks like the curves are out and the boxy look is back. There's an upright windscreen, a decided lack of view obstructing swoop in the rear side panels, and you can even see out of the back window. Is Lexus borrowing from the G-Class Mercedes, or the Range Rover?
  • Lorenzo Didn't those guys actually test drive cars? I was told that one drove like an old lady, another like a maniac, and the third like a nervous middle aged commuter who needs to get to work on time and can't afford big repair bills, and they got together to pass judgement within their individual expertise. No?
  • Lorenzo Aw, I don't care what they call the models, as long as they don't use those dots over the O's.
  • The Oracle GM just seems hapless lately