This Hyundai Stellar is the rare “luxury” sedan you never knew existed (unless you’re Canadian)

cars & bids/StellaTheStellar

Whatever you think about the quality (or lack thereof) of Hyundai automobiles from the mid-1980s, there’s no arguing that this one is stellar—with a capital S. It’s also extremely rare. In fact, the seller of this 1986 Hyundai Stellar Executive on hasn’t been able to find another roadworthy model anywhere.

With six days to go until the auction ends on January 25, bidding is at $900. Offered by Timmins Hyundai in Timmons, Ontario, proceeds from the no-reserve auction go to the Timmins and District Humane Society.

Never heard of the Hyundai Stellar? You’re forgiven. The rear-wheel-drive South Korean “luxury” vehicle was only available in Canada. At the time, Hyundai was testing the North American market by offering Canadians the Stellar and its smaller sibling, the Pony, before the automaker considered selling its cars in the U.S.

1986 Hyundai Stellar Executive rear three-quarter
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The ’86 Stellar Executive on offer immediately unleashed decades-old memories—mostly bad ones—from commenters on the auction site, who seem genuinely surprised there’s still one around.

Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the 35-year-old Stellar rides on a Ford platform and uses a Mitsubishi powertrain. The black-over-beige sedan is powered by a 1.6-liter inline-four engine, which produces 74 horsepower and 88 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a three-speed automatic transmission. The unmodified car is equipped with 13-inch wheels, a trunk-mounted luggage rack, velour upholstery, cassette tape player, and power windows and mirrors. The Stellar is equipped with a five-digit metric odometer that shows about 92,200 kilometers (roughly 57,300 miles).

1986 Hyundai Stellar Executive engine bay
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The car’s Carfax history report begins in 1988 and lists no accidents. It also shows that the Stellar was registered in British Columbia from 1993–2020.

Timmins Hyundai purchased the car in 2020 and put it on display in its showroom after changing the engine oil, rotating the tires, and performing a safety inspection. The car requires two new brake rotors; replacement rotors are in the trunk.

Perhaps the Stellar’s most interesting feature is its factory steering wheel, which is unique to the Executive level. It has a center button that you would assume is the horn—but the horn is actually located on the signal stalk.

Hyundai marketed the Stellar (which was followed by the Stellar II in 1987) as more car for the money, using the tagline “The cost of luxury comes down to earth.” Some Canadians would argue that the car’s quality also came down to earth, but if you’re looking for an inexpensive oddball that few people know about or have seen in decades, this would be a Stellar choice.

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    You sir are right on. People laughed when I bought my 1986 Stellar. I will certainly laugh last and would like to rub these into peoples noses. How many Hyundai are there now? Let’s not forget, that Dodge Valiant in the late 60’s had a venerable slant 6. Couldn’t keep up with engine production. In came Mitsubishi to bail them out. This started the downfall of the brand. In came said Hyundai to bail out Mitsubishi, with one stipulation, that they were able to produce a vehicle brand under their own name. Mitsubishi agreed, but stipulated that it must be a number of generation behind. They worked hard, and before to long Hyundai became reliable brand. Mitsubishi still cannot compete, while what has Hyundai done brought another struggling brand that is now gaining popularity. That would be Kia. At 77 have owned Toyota Corolla (71) said Stellar (86) managed to squeeze in a Civic (83). How many domestic manufactures can say that.

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