I bought my Excel in Sept 1998, brand new and have owned it ever since. I don't own another car. I've heard SO many bad things from a few people about Excels, but maybe I just got extremely lucky.
I still have the original clutch in it - yes I swear that's the truth. Original gearbox, aircon, brake disc's, basically everything is still original other than the battery, the alternator, the exhaust system (as I went to 2 1/4 straight through with extractors years back) a few bulbs, stereo system, just general "add-on's" as such.
I've driven it from Townsville to Port Douglas, down to Melbourne, Sydney and everywhere in between.
From the Gold Coast to Alice Springs and back up to Qld. At least 10 trips down to Brisbane from Townsville. She's never missed a beat.
Dragged a trailer with a 200 kilo motorcycle and at least 200 kilos of crap stacked inside, down to the Gold Coast, took a day to adjust after remove the load, but everything went smoothly.
Maybe it's upkeep, maybe, as I said, I'm lucky.
But either way it's been an absolute dream to own. Coming up to 11 years and I'm not looking to get rid of her at all.
The paint is still stunning and the interior is basically perfect, other than the water stains on the doorskins if you don't wipe it off quick enough.. fingernail polish removes the stains though.
The windows are the only thing that annoy me.
I have a 3 door, so the larger windows give more trouble, and have to be guided as they're wound up as the tracks in the door get lazy over time.
Never had it die on the side of the road on a trip, but have shot 2 spark plug leads at once heading through Gin Gin, but she kept going through to Hervey Bay for new leads! Basically ran on 2, then 3, then 2 cylinders ha ha! Chewed the juice but had no dramas at all!
Would I buy another one? Yeah I think I would. I do all my own servicing except for belts, so I know how it gets treated and the jobs are done right. Upkeep and maintenance, and I RARELY let anyone drive it.
After I had the K&N filter, exhaust system and extractors put on, the difference was amazing. For such a little engine it does actually do very well.
I also removed the "double-back" airflow on the intake at the front. Removed the 2 'drop down' square shaped pieces and plugged the holes ;)
Got 14" alloys and 185's on it, and lowered Kings Springs on the front only. All it needs.
The seats are all still perfect, been covered all their lives.
The 17" (or 44" can't remember..) steering wheel was a blessing to get rid off!!!