Maxx Anker profile picture Maxx Anker 3 years ago 5
Japanese

Hyundai Stellar: The Forgotten Ford that Mitsubishi Built

Ford - Hyundai Stellar: The Forgotten Ford that Mitsubishi Built - Japanese

Have I gotten your attention? Did the title of this article confuse you? Well good, and get ready for more confusion! To try to explain this beautiful forgotten wonder, we’ve got to go way back to 1967.

1968 Hyundai Cortina
1968 Hyundai Cortina

While American motor companies were having a war over who could stuff the most cubic inches in the front of a car, the Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company was establishing the Hyundai Motor Company. The first Hyundai ever sold was the Hyundai Cortina, a rebadged Ford sold as a Hyundai in South Korea.

1969 Hyundai Taunus
1969 Hyundai Taunus

Hyundai sold these badge engineered Cortinas (and the Ford Taunus, too) until the 70s when Ford ceased production of these models. Eventually, Hyundai wanted to build their own car, and that’s where Mitsubishi enters the picture. In 1974 Hyundai started building their car, the Pony, and selling it in some countries using powerplants and drivetrains from Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors.

1975 Hyundai Pony
1975 Hyundai Pony

In 1983, from the ashes and reused chassis of its Cortina cousin, along with some engines and transmissions from Mitsubishi, the Hyundai Stellar was born. This Giugiaro styled RWD sedan was never truly an awe inspiring car in its day, in the beginning only offering 1.4 or 1.6 liter Mitsubishi engines.

A Hyundai Stellar Gsl
A Hyundai Stellar Gsl

Along comes 1987, and with it came the Stellar II. Now this is where things started to get (slightly) more interesting. In 1987, the Stellar received new improved styling by Giorgietto Giugiaro (The man responsible for designing the Mk1 Vw Golf, the DeLorean DMC12, and the Lotus Esprit to name just a few), a MacPherson strut front suspension, bigger brake calipers, and most importantly, a 2.0 liter Mitsubishi Engine. See where I’m headed?

Sorry for the mid-build shot, it was the only engine bay good picture I could find of the 4G63 in a Stellar
Sorry for the mid-build shot, it was the only engine bay good picture I could find of the 4G63 in a Stellar

Yes, you can believe your eyes folks. That is the almighty 4G63 (the lump used in all iterations of the Lancer Evolution I - IX), in a Hyundai! Now this engine was not turbocharged, was SOHC, fed through a 2 barrel carbureter, and as well as I can find, never made more than 93 horsepower in stock form.

A very well taken care of Stellar II!
A very well taken care of Stellar II!

But the true beauty of this car, for me at least, is in the potential. What most people would probably see as a slow, ugly, “Grandpa car”, I, along with most of us here, see a beautiful diamond in the rough. If you can’t see where I’m coming from, let me explain. In just one car, you’ve got the perfect platform for three types of builds; sleeper, street, or drift.

Let's start with the sleeper build.

Ford - Hyundai Stellar: The Forgotten Ford that Mitsubishi Built - Japanese

You’ve got a very plain, unassuming sedan body, but with a RWD layout, and a sleeping beauty under the hood just waiting to be awoken, who knows what kind of Understated Evo Eater you could build.

I’ve got similar reasonings for the Stellar being a stellar street machine platform, maybe with a little less modesty than the sleeper build. With the beautiful boxy Giugiaro styling, you’ll have STI drivers wondering “what the hell sort of Corolla/Volvo mutant just blew by me?”

Finally, the drift build seems quite self explanatory. 4G63 ripe for exploiting, RWD, JDM (yo), and 4 Doors for spare parts. What else could you want in a daily drift car?

Time for Fun Facts!

Ford - Hyundai Stellar: The Forgotten Ford that Mitsubishi Built - Japanese
  • In 1984, the Stellar was the only 4 cylinder powered RWD sedan on the market.
  • The Stellar II was the first car sold as the Sonata in Korea.
  • The Stellar was sadly never available in the US market due to emissions standards, but it was available in Canada.
  • It’s Beautiful!
  • Just Look at It!

Well, hopefully I’ve instilled some knowledge about a lost beauty in you all today, feedback is welcome, and if anyone has had any experience with a real life Stellar, please tell me about it!