Rare Rides: The 1989 Mitsubishi Precis - Discount Badge Games

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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  • 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...

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.
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