I’m an extremely lucky chap. Among my possessions I find a great wealth of motoring memorabilia of every imaginable description, including a majestic “Road Works Ahead” sign that was definitely, 100% happened upon by law-abiding means. Totally.
One item stands head and shoulders above the rest, though, in terms of sheer collectibility and must-have-ness, especially for a select band of discerning completists. It is, of course, a polythene bag embellished with an horrifically crude stylist’s rendering of the New-For-’94 Hyundai Accent. Everybody who’s ever seen it has commented on how it must be completely priceless. Or is that worthless? I can never remember.
I’m going to approach the contents of this veritable sac magique without going into too much detail. Suffice to say, Hyundai as a world player were very much WORK IN PROGRESS in ’94. They had made considerable leaps and bounds since the dark days of the original Pony and far, far better Stellar. At Motorshows throughout the decade Hyundais’ mission was to show the world that, you know, they were there.
First brochure out of the bag is for the X2. You had it as an Excel, we had it as Pony X2 (For SECOND GENERATION). Then Hyundai dropped the Pony name altogether, because it suddenly occurred to somebody in a position of influence that nobody really liked the Pony anyway.
“The sleek, up to the minute styling of the latest Hyundai X2 is designed to turn heads with its soft European looks”.
It didn’t do that, to be honest. But nor did it repel people, and that was half the battle won. It was a worthy enough car, at a sensible price that didn’t do anything spectacularly well or badly. And that was all it needed to be.
“Like all GSi models it’s superbly equipped too, with features like power steering, electric windows, central locking and tinted glass, all as standard equipment.”
For the “experienced” motorists who lapped these cars up, who were trading from an old Cortina or Cavalier, the X2 GSi with all those wonderful labour saving attributes was just what the doctor ordered.
Brochure number two showcased the car that stood dead-centre on all of Hyundais’ motorshow stands throughout ’94.
“One of the most important new cars of the decade”.
A lot of buff books were using the Accent for newsstand headline selling material, the new car being seen as representing a new dawn for Pacific car manufacture. And it did, really. The Accent was to be seen as Koreas first proper, totally home-spun, “This Is Hyundai”, statement car. This was what Hyundai wanted Hyundai to be. With the Accent they sought to offer a car that people would buy not because it was cheaper than the competition, nor better equipped. They wanted people to buy it because they liked it. Or, more particularly, because they WANTED it.
“The Accent is distinguished by its fluid aerodynamic design from its low slant nose to its handsomely sculpted tail. The Accent team has created a vibrant, eye catching style that will turn heads on the road”
It’s a funny thing, desire. Visually the Accent, like the Nissan Sunny of the same era, always gave me a strange almost allergic reaction. It was as if the design of these cars represented the absolute opposite of what I wanted. Even down to the colours; fuchsia and amethyst are colours I more closely associate with gardening than with driving. I seriously, absolutely, hated the Accent. And I had no real right to because there was nothing badly wrong with it as a product. And it’s true to say that there WERE people out there who actually bought the things because they liked the lot of them. Accent was a pretty strong seller in the UK, gradually allowing the more pensioner-aligned X2 to be phased out.
“The Accent Coupe will appeal to those individuals who treat their driving seriously yet still yearn for some fun and sportiness in their day to day motoring”
The engines had picked up a bit, too, the 1.3 now bursting out 83.1hp, just 4hp less than the 1.5. For some reason, the Coupe buyer was denied the excitement of the bigger engine, as well as some of the extra equipment some of the 5-door models. But have no fear; there was always:
Now it’s time for a PROPER coupe. Scoupe made a pretty convincing account of itself visually when you consider that that lame old boring Excel or Pony was concealed just below the surface.
“Few cars today have the looks to stand out from the crowd but the new Scoupe is guaranteed to turn heads wherever it goes”
Yeah, Hyundai had a serious hang-up about head-turning. To the uninitiated, though, all the requisite signs of car sportiness were present and correct. I mean, it had a spoiler. Like an F40 did. A turbocharger could be had, too, nailed onto Hyundais’ proprietary, e.g. not inspired by anybody else, 12-valve engine, and swelling the usual 87.1hp up to 114, for the promise of much driving-seat grinnage.
“The definitive sports coupe for the individual driver looking for that something different”
If we’re honest, Scoupe was never really up to the task of persuading drivers that it was anything other than a also-ran, and never really made much of an impact on the UKs small coupe market. It probably stole more sales from other East-Asian car marques, and other Hyundai models come to think of it, than from any of the European brands that it so badly wanted to compete against. No, that would come soon with the Hyundai Coupe (or Tiburon). But not in ’94.
You could have one of these, though. Hyundais’ big car was in its second generation, or third if you count the Stellar, it’s DISTANT predecessor. Again it would have price and size on its size, and believe it or not actual tangible signs of elegance.
“Expressing success, luxury and honest value, the Sonata makes an eloquent statement about its owner.”
Balderdash. It made no real statement at all, other than perhaps it’s owner realising that, for what he actually expected to get out of a car, the Sonata would be more than adequate. A reprinted road-test from Auto Express also appears in this bag of delights, and in it the Sonata 2.0iCD is pitched against the Mazda 626 2.0i GLX. Apart from reporting about a “curvaceous but unattractive fascia“, disappointing gearbox and limited front headroom, the verdict was that the more expensive Mazda wasn’t sufficiently better than the Hyundai to win in a straight fight. A narrow, almost moral victory for Hyundai, but a valuable one nonetheless.
“A new dimension in luxury and comfort”
Well, no, not really. But then, maybe yes. The Sonata did absolutely nothing new, and nothing remarkable AT ALL, but it was becoming good enough to represent another way of doing things. The Korean company was becoming a worthy alternative in this fiercely contested sector of the market, and if it couldn’t quite win the fight based on flair or design exuberance, it was certainly doing pretty well in the value-for-money and fitness-for-purpose stakes. And with a soon-to-be available 3.0 V6 (of Mitsubish derivation, natch) you could finally tick economy off the standard equipment list once and for all.
There’s more in the bag, but I think you’ve seen quite enough already. As tempted as I am to share the delights of the “Hyundai Collection” clothing brochure; who wouldn’t want a Hyundai Ski jacket or polo shirt, or a pair of cufflinks embellished with that mythical elliptical “H”? (Or, should I ask, who out of those who don’t actually work in a Hyundai dealership in 1994?).
It’s been a pleasant dance downthe memory turnpike. I would have been 13 when that motorshow was running. I would have travelled to London by train and come home with hundreds of brochures which would be strewn through the house as if having been leaflet-dropped by some airborne car-sales propaganda agency. They would make my parents life a god-forsaken nightmare, and be blamed for at least one badly bruised coccyx as a family member skied gracelessly down the stairwell. Yeah, brochures on carpet are slip-per-ry.
Next time around on Carchive we revert to the good old one-at-a-time format. You can have too much excitement sometimes.
(Disclaimer: All mages are of original manufacturers publicity material, photographed by me. My ’94 Hyundai collection is avalable for loan for The British Museum, the Saatchi collection, the Guggenheim museums; in fact if you are an international organisation of repute who can appreciate this material for its extreme significance and rarity, send me a note and I’ll consider lending the collection to you. If I like the cut of your gib. No Canvassers)