Junkyard Find: 2000 Daewoo Lanos Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Of all the far-flung outposts of the sprawling GM Empire, Daewoo produced some of the best stories. Today's Junkyard Find is an example of one of the three car models sold with Daewoo badging during the company's brief attempt to establish a toehold under its own name in North America.

The early 2000s were exciting times at Daewoo, what with the CEO fleeing the country to avoid jail time (he was arrested and did time later on), a bankruptcy in 2000 plus another round of arrests the following year, and so on.

GM had sold rebadged Daewoos in the United States and Canada before then, as the 1988-1993 Pontiac LeMans (United States) and the Asüna GT/ Passport Optima (Canada).

Cars bearing actual Daewoo badging were available on our continent for just the 2000 through 2002 model years, though. The flagship was the Daewoo Leganza luxury sedan (the successor of which returned here in 2004 as the Suzuki Verona), the compact Corolla-fighter was the Daewoo Nubira (the successor of which returned here in 2005 as the Suzuki Reno), and the entry-level subcompact was the Daewoo Lanos (the successor of which returned here in 2004 as the Chevrolet Aveo).

Build quality was pretty terrible, but it took a while for car shoppers to catch on to that.

The soon-to-be-a-fugitive Kim Woo-Choong came up with a brilliant idea for selling Daewoos in the United States: sign up college students as "Daewoo Campus Advisors" and have them promote the cars to their fellow students. Plenty of college students were loaned free Daewoos, many of which were never returned and caused legal headaches for years after. Daewoo fled the continent in 2002, after which Manny, Moe, and Jack were hired to do warranty service (really!).

The Lanos was really cheap. The sticker price for the three-door hatchback was $8,669, while this four-door sedan listed at $9,449 (that's about $15,364 and $16,7464, respectively, in 2023 dollars). The not-so-bad 2000 Hyundai Accent cost just $9,699 for the sedan ($17,190 now),

The Lanos had an E-TEC-equipped 1.6-liter straight-four rated at 105 horsepower.

The base transmission was a five-speed manual, but the original buyer of this car spent an extra $800 ($1,418 now) for the four-speed automatic.

129,752 miles is pretty decent for a Lanos.

Safety is important!

If you have cannabis stickers on your Daewoo, you need some beer stickers to balance that out.

This air conditioning added $700 to the final cost, or $1,241 after inflation.

The Lanos is known for exactly one cinematic appearance (NSFW).

What could go wrong?

Perhaps we'd better go to South Korea.

[Images: The author]

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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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2 of 15 comments
  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Aug 09, 2023

    Come see Charles Brock Daewoo (inside the Oldsmobile showroom!)

  • S. S. on Oct 29, 2023

    I have a 2000 Daewoo Lanos. I bought it in 2009 for $1500, it now has 160k miles on it. Looking at the Chilton right now as I need to repair the front passenger suspension. She's a great gas saver! I hate to lose her. I've received compliments from young 20-30 yr olds, I was shocked. But she does look pretty cool with her chrome wheels and tent. Needs paint job though.

    Thanks for your post!

  • Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
  • Jeff Tiny electrical parts are ruining today's cars! What can they ...
  • CEastwood From zero there is nowhere to go but up . BYD isn't sold in the U.S. and most Teslas are ugly azz 90s looking plain jane drone mobiles . I've only seen one Rivian on the road and it 's not looking good for them . I live out in the sticks of NW NJ and EVs just aren't practical here , but the local drag strip thrives in the warmer months with most cars making the trip from New York .
  • Lorenzo Aw, that's just the base price. Toyota dealers aren't in the same class as BMW/Porsche upsellers, and the Toyota base is more complete, but nobody will be driving that model off the lot at that price.
  • Mike The cost if our busing program is 6.2 million for our average size district in NJ. It was 3.5 last year.