Steven Cole Smith
Steven Cole Smith Contributor
8/16/21 7:15 a.m.

When Hyundai decided to jump into pro racing here in the States, the company shuffled through its resumés for a partner. One name rose to the top: Bryan Herta, a winning IndyCar driver, a two-time victor of the Indianapolis 500 as an owner, and an admitted perfectionist.

Herta had long been…

Read the rest of the story

Junkers
Junkers New Reader
8/16/21 1:48 p.m.

I recall first seeing Hyundai at the Sno Drift Rally in January of 2000.  At the time no manufacturers' teams were competing aside from a few Honda engineers in a civic but they were hardly "factory backed."  VW may have pumped in some bucks as well as Ford in the form of an Escort ZX2 sold to a private team I helped out (Tad Ohtake and Cynthia Krolikowski).  The fastest 2wd I recall was in the form of a very hot turbo GLH motor stuffed into grandma's Plymouth Horizon.

Hyundai showed with a few new Elantras built by Vermont Sportscar and were essentially Mitsubishi Evos with lots of Buffum's secret sauce.  There were plenty of STi's and Evo's on the field in the hands of some great talent, but the Elantras mopped the floor with everybody.  It was like a walk in the park for the factory Hyundai team.  I hadn't taken Hyundai seriously as a manufacturer of "durable goods", but that performance made me take note and applaud them for shelling out such money to make sure they were winning and seen by enthusiasts.

Fast forward to 2003 and the entire Hyundai lineup was still the worst handling bunch of cars since the first front drivers designed in the USA in the early 80's.  It was as if they hadn't learned anything from their "racing efforts".  Indeed, I would've chosen any GM X-body car with less than 100k miles and bought 2-3 of them rather than plunk down money on a new for '03 Hyundai.  I think they finally committed to making properly modern cars with the release of the Genesis and Veloster, so thank God for that.

Incidentally, at that rally in 2000 I recall seeing an as-yet-to-be-released PT Cruiser with some very nice aftermarket wheels and either a large exhaust or 4 big SuperTrap mufflers hanging out the back.  I didn't get a chance to get close to it, but clearly this was a few of the Chrysler skunkworks boys taking a project car out for a few "wows."  Was it a turbo?  AWD?  Who knows?

LeftLaneLoser
LeftLaneLoser UltraDork
8/16/21 2:49 p.m.

I think they became a major contender when they decided to hire somebody who actually came from a firm that produced actual sports cars. Ahem BMW.

asphalt_gundam
asphalt_gundam Reader
8/16/21 2:53 p.m.

Dad brought home an '89 Excel for a field car us kids could thrash. No power, burned lots of oil but it was a blast on wet grass and I taught my little brother to do J turns in it. Eventually tossed a rod.

BMWGeoff
BMWGeoff GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/16/21 2:58 p.m.

I remember Antoine L'Estage winning a couple of Canadian Rally Championships in a Hyundai Tiburon.

Junkers
Junkers New Reader
8/16/21 3:00 p.m.

Rodney King got beat up driving an Excel and I think Chris Rock popularized that fact.  I wonder if that drove the tireless ad campaign to improve the brand?  "Can't we all just get along?"

Junkers
Junkers New Reader
8/16/21 3:03 p.m.
BMWGeoff said:

I remember Antoine L'Estage winning a couple of Canadian Rally Championships in a Hyundai Tiburon.

I think Canada was blessed with the Hyundai Pony a few years before they brought it to the USA as the Excel.  I remember Hyundai Tiburons were quite popular on the streets of Montreal in the late 90's.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
8/16/21 3:13 p.m.

My wife's previous car was an early 2000s top-trim Elantra. It wasn't anything particularly noteworthy, but it did, somehow, come back to life after the engine flooded (long story, and yes, it was my fault).

Never quite ran the same after that, though.

BMWGeoff
BMWGeoff GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/16/21 3:20 p.m.
Junkers said:
BMWGeoff said:

I remember Antoine L'Estage winning a couple of Canadian Rally Championships in a Hyundai Tiburon.

I think Canada was blessed with the Hyundai Pony a few years before they brought it to the USA as the Excel.  I remember Hyundai Tiburons were quite popular on the streets of Montreal in the late 90's.

You're correct about the Pony. I have a picture of one somewhere with a historic vehicle licence plate.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
8/16/21 3:21 p.m.

I've been buying them since April 15, 2002. Started "racing" them in 2007. Little things made them sooooo much better for handling.  Rear sway bar from the 03 Tiburon and some H&R springs with KYB struts would wake up the Elantra. Durable little cars that you could put a lot of miles on. Nothing fancy. The newer stuff (first gen Forte for instance) has a ton of potential in them but the aftermarket is not quite up to speed.

BMWGeoff
BMWGeoff GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/16/21 3:23 p.m.

In the beginning:

Mr. Peabody
Mr. Peabody UltimaDork
8/16/21 4:28 p.m.
Junkers said:
BMWGeoff said:

I remember Antoine L'Estage winning a couple of Canadian Rally Championships in a Hyundai Tiburon.

I think Canada was blessed with the Hyundai Pony a few years before they brought it to the USA as the Excel.  I remember Hyundai Tiburons were quite popular on the streets of Montreal in the late 90's.

The Excel had nothing to do with the Pony, and Hyundai were running some showroom stock class with one of  their sedans in Canada the 90's. I have some cams from those cars.

Actually factory sponsored

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
8/16/21 4:52 p.m.
BMWGeoff said:

In the beginning:

Not for us.... 

1989 Hyundai Excel GL Front Left.jpg

This was our beginning. 

msterbeau
msterbeau New Reader
8/16/21 5:13 p.m.

My most recent cars have been a Hyundai Veloster R-Spec and a Kia Forte GT (Hyundai Elantra underneath.).  Both great little cars.  Great quality, great performance and handling and nicely designed.  

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
8/16/21 5:39 p.m.

Hyundai were out and about in WRC twenty years ago too, with a version of the Accent.

 

Somehow I'd like to say that they had Armin Schwarz and Alister McRae as drivers amongst others.

jb229
jb229 New Reader
8/17/21 3:17 p.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

They're currently ruthlessly dominant in WRC as well, with the i30N (5 door euro Veloster).

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
8/17/21 5:03 p.m.

In reply to jb229 :

Yes, but modern WRC is boring.  The cars are about as related to production cars as NASCAR or DTM.  They don't even need to run production based engines anymore.

 

At least the early WRC cars had a little pretense that they were production based.  It looks like the Hyundai used an aluminum block engine (so no 4G63 based lump), have yet to see underhood pictures.  Transverse engine and longitudinal trans, which sounds weird, but Ford and Peugeot did it that way too.

karussell
karussell New Reader
8/18/21 4:21 p.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

It's still(until WRC goes Hybrid in a few years) somewhat based on a production car(made in Hyundai production line in Turkey then shipped to Alzenau for modification), so I think it is kinda unfair to compare WRC cars to NASCAR or DTM.

Here's pic from TopGear. 1.6L Theta engine, but some says it's Gamma. I'm not sure what is the difference between the two. Tried to search it on Google but couldn't find any useful information...

Also, I found some interviews about Hyundai's WRC project. Here's some interesting quotes(translated from Korean):

We did not give up on doing motorsport back in 2003. We just disbanded outsourced team, so we could build our own team. I don't know what others had thought about it, but we were preparing our WRC project all the time. It just took so long to make such a big team.

People were skeptical about this. Even inside the company many people didn't even know what is WRC, let alone understanding why we had to do this. Hyundai could have spent all this money into marketing and sell cars. Nobody understood why we had to spend a lot of money into this, a project that does not bring money to the company. It was a process of convincing, arguing, frustration, and then arguing, and repeat.

People have changed their mind. Motorsport is not an ultimate goal of Hyundai, but at least everyone in this company now knows that motorsports is a great basis for the ultimate goal. Not only it is great for marketing, but also Hyundai can get fans. Engineers can also apply the knowledge from motorsport into production vehicles.

 

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
8/18/21 4:25 p.m.

That's the gamma. gamma injection pump sits on top like that and the engine lays back farther than the Theta. They share a lot of similarities (timing chain, some have DI, intake on the front etc). 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
8/18/21 4:42 p.m.

In reply to karussell :

I meant, what engine/layout did the Accent have, not the modern stuff.

The FIA now allows manufacturers to make a WRC specific engine as long as it meets certain specifications (bore/stroke/bore spacing/etc) if they do not feel they have a production engine that they can compete with.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
8/18/21 4:45 p.m.

In reply to bobzilla :

Engine has to have the crank centerline within a certain tolerance from production, but the engine can be rotated about that axis by, IIRC, up to fifteen degrees.  So, I would not judge based on engine angle alone.

The Zetecs in the original Focus WRC looked like they were half in the firewall! smiley

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
8/18/21 4:52 p.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

this video at the 2:53 mark shows they were using a turbo Beta 2.0L. I figured they were still messing with Mitsu 4G's still and am more than a little shocked. 

Our Preferred Partners
OolVxgdn487qGFtnkwfPVWnfjEQ7Pq4OxTxP20jfdS0NMdxYCHt77TgMGQ7rkKsD