Seen at the Insadong antiques district: a fairly rare sight that could in itself qualify as an antique.
The Hyundai Grandeur was introduced in 1986 as Hyundai’s flagship, replacing the aging European Ford Granada that had served that role. As Hyundai did not have any real luxury car experience, it partnered with Mitsubishi, helping Mitsubishi redesign its own aging luxury car Debonair in return for the right to license and build the Debonair for the South Korean domestic market; the Grandeur was Hyundai’s version of the Debonair.
This original model was produced from 1986 to 1991. As the hood ornament is in the form of the H oval, which Hyundai did not start using until 1990, this must be the tail end of the original Grandeur production. Many Grandeurs came with a 3.0L V6 Mitsubishi engine that was also used on the export Sonata, and is also related to the engines used in Chrysler minivans. Many Korean motorists refer to the original Grandeur as the “Gak Grandeur” (Angular Grandeur) due to its boxy shape.
Another claim to fame for the Grandeur is being the second-ever Korean automobile to offer front wheel drive. The first was the Hyundai Excel in 1985. Eventually Korean manufacturers abandoned rear wheel drive passenger cars altogether, and the Ssangyong Chairman became the sole holdout, until Hyundai returned to rear wheel drive with the Genesis in 2008.
In 1991, a more rounded second-generation Grandeur, still based on the Debonair, debuted, becoming the first airbag-equipped Hyundai. The third generation, codenamed XG, would follow in 1998, by then being fully Hyundai-developed with no more Mitsubishi connection. (At that time, Mitsubishi killed the Debonair completely.) The severing of the Mitsubishi connection also allowed Hyundai to export the XG Grandeur to many markets, under different names such as the XG30 in Europe and XG300/350 in the US. The fourth generation, codenamed TG, followed in 2005; the TG Grandeur is known as the Azera in most export markets.
The Grandeur story was repeated in the late 1990s, with the even more upscale Mitsubishi Proudia, which Hyundai helped develop, and then licensed as the Equus. Again, the Proudia flopped and was discontinued (and Mitsubishi left the luxury car market altogether), while the Equus did well, and Hyundai went on to design a replacement Equus in-house in 2009 and start exporting it.
Passing by the Grandeur is a Daewoo Kalos, the Korean domestic version of the Chevrolet Aveo (which was, indeed, built by Daewoo).
Tagged: , 2008 , Korea , Seoul , Insadong , Hyundai , Mitsubishi , Daewoo , Republic of Korea , South Korea , 대한민국 , 大韓民國 , 한국 , 韓國 , 서울