Rare Rides: The 1989 Mitsubishi Precis - Discount Badge Games

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1989 mitsubishi precis discount badge games

Don’t let the title fool you — what we’ve got here is not a Mitsubishi at all, but rather a Hyundai. The late Eighties were confusing times at Mitsubishi, and deals with other OEMs were made left and right.

Today’s Precis is an Excel by any other name.

Hyundai followed up the successful rear-drive Pony with the more economical and contemporary Excel. What the up-and-coming Korean company really needed was a budget-priced hatchback it could sell to all of North America. If you recall, the rather agricultural Pony was unable to pass U.S. emissions standards, so it was confined to the smoggy and carefree industrial nation north of the border. The success of the Excel was incredibly important for Hyundai.

For the boxy styling, Hyundai turned to friend Giorgietto Giugiaro at Italdesign. Designer of the Pony, Giugiaro turned in similar homework for the Excel. Shapes included the short three-door hatchback seen here, as well as a four-door sedan and five-door hatch.

All models were front-drive, as dictated by economy car trends — a first for Hyundai. The company knew their potential American customer and offered manual and automatic transmissions from the get-go. All first-generation models sourced power from a 68-horsepower 1.5-liter engine.

Introducing the Hyundai marque to the United States in 1985, the first-ever Hyundai Excel sold on value. Priced at $4,995, it smashed import sale records immediately. Voted a Best Product by Fortune, Hyundai sold 168,882 Excels in America in its first year.

Mitsubishi wanted a piece of the pie.

Striking a deal with Hyundai, the Excel first appeared as the badge-engineered Precis at Mitsubishi dealers in 1987. Available only in hatchback format with three or five doors, the Precis was also Mitsubishi’s value-priced car. It was their Ace of Base, and undersold even the cheapest Mirage model.

The Excel was updated for 1990 with decently refreshed visuals and more modern technology underneath. The Precis made the switch, too, but became strictly a three-door affair. It continued drawing budget customers to Mitsubishi dealerships through 1994. The Excel lived longer than planned, but was eventually replaced by the Accent.

Today’s ’89 Precis is the upmarket RS, which surely means Rally Sport. With a five-speed manual, no rev counter, and 83,000 miles, it asks $2,250 in Illinois.

[Images: seller]

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2 of 36 comments
  • BoltEVJay BoltEVJay on Feb 29, 2020

    Hyundai and Kia selling these heaps in America to people with poor credit, only to have a car that didn't outlast the inflated high interest rate payments is one of the many reasons I will never buy Hyundai or Kia cars.

  • DownUnder2014 DownUnder2014 on Apr 17, 2020

    How do anything of these even exist today? Especially in IL, which is hell for cars...

  • ToolGuy I plan to install a sink in the crawl space soon. After that I plan to put washer and dryer hookups on my roof.
  • ToolGuy "That power team adds an electric supercharger"YES!
  • Cardave5150 UAW is acting all butt-hurt that their employers didn't "share the wealth" when they had massive profits. They conveniently forget that they have a CONTRACT with their employers, which was negotiated in good faith, and which the Remaining 3 are honoring, paying them exactly what they negotiated last time.
  • Kwik_Shift That's a shame.
  • Jkross22 It looks like a dog breaking one off at the park.