Maybe your car was bad because it was an automatic. The Excel got a bad reputation in the states because roughly 85% of total sales were automatic transmissions, and the Mitsubishi-made piece of junk auto tranny was bad. I think if you had a stick, like me, you would love your car.
Automatic is not the problem. My family bought a new loaded 1987 Excel hatchback 5 speed and it was nothing but problems. Even the windshield wiper arms rusted! Even though the car did make a trek cross country from New Hampshire to San Francisco, my sister was so afraid of its reliability she gave it to charity rather than incur the wrath of some disgruntled buyer.
We are about to buy a Hyundai excel 1990 5 door model for $990 the dealer said it had some dents and they haven't checked for a roadworthy, do you think its worth it?
I bought a used 1990 Excel that had 125,000 miles. After 10,000 miles more the 4th cylander blew. The engine was clogged with oil and coolant sludge. I decided to have a used engine installed and paid $1200 thinking it was good to keep this car because of the great gas mileage. The car ran GREAT after the used engine was installed, until it caught on fire on the freeway the same day I paid the mechanic. He probably made a major mistake -- needless to say, looking back, it was not a good idea to invest ANY money on repairing such a cheap car to begin with. This car is not meant to last forever. I ended up buying a 1989 Acura Integra with my refund from the mechanic and a used Acura is a totally different animal in terms of the quality of the engine, transmission, etc. Moral: don't bother investing ANY money repairing an old Excel; better to just junk it and get one of the higher quality used cars (like a Honda) that are out there and are meant to last forever. Also, it is so important to get the coolant system flushed on the Excel in order to avoid internal engine problems -- that's what did my car in.
I have a 1990 Hyundai Excel GLS that was bought right off the lot. There haven't been any major problems with it until now. I think the problem is you can't go a while without driving it and expect it to work perfectly. And besides, the car is 18 years old and obviously isn't going to work forever. The gas mileage was great and regular maintenance was inexpensive. I recommend Hyundai's in general.