Cars you probably didn't know Kia built

Kia employees work on a Kia Sportage car at the Kia Motors Slovakia plant in 2009. It was not only always the case as ...
RADOVAN STOKLASA/REUTERS

Kia employees work on a Kia Sportage car at the Kia Motors Slovakia plant in 2009. It was not only always the case as the carmaker built cars that were more famous under other badges.

 

A while back we looked at five cars you probably didn't know Hyundai built in its early days of car manufacturing.

Here we're doing the same thing with Hyundai's subsidiary, Kia, which has an even more interesting production history!

Kia made a version of the Fiat 124. But didn't everybody?
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Kia made a version of the Fiat 124. But didn't everybody?

Fiat 124

Of course Kia (or, at least the company that would eventually become part of Kia) made a version of the Fiat 124. What else would a burgeoning car manufacturer do in the 1970s?

Fiat flogged the 124 off to pretty much anybody who asked, with the iconic little box becoming the Seat 124 in Spain, the Premier 118NE in India, the Pirin-Fiat in Bulgaria, the Tofas Murat 124 and Tofas Serce in Turkey and, of course, the VAZ-2010/Lada 1200 in Russia and Egypt. Asia Motors built the Fiat-Kia 124 from 1970 until 1975, when Kia completely absorbed it.

Kia/Mazda beat Mazda/Ford to badge engineering by miles with this car: the Brisa.
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Kia/Mazda beat Mazda/Ford to badge engineering by miles with this car: the Brisa.

Mazda 323

We all know about the alliance Kia made with Ford in the mid-1980s that saw all sorts of awful badge-engineered atrocities spread across the Ford, Kia and Mazda marques. But we bet you didn't know Kia had a far earlier fling with Mazda in the 1970s.

That earlier collaboration saw Kia build the Brisa, a version of the second-generation Familia (later known as the 323 in this part of the world), starting with the pickup version in 1973. Production of the sedan started a few years later and almost 76,000 were built before production ended in 1981.

A Mazda 808 by any other name is a Kia Brisa II. Apparently.
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A Mazda 808 by any other name is a Kia Brisa II. Apparently.

Mazda 808

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From the end of 1975, Kia also built the Brisa II alongside the smaller Brisa. The Brisa II was a rebadged Mazda 808 sedan packing a mighty 53kW 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.

The wagon version was added to the lineup in 1978, but sadly there was never a Kia version of the rotary-powered Savanna/RX-3, which would have been awesome. Production of the Brisa II ended at the same time as the Brisa in 1981.

No good can ever come from a French large-car. It certainly didn't for Kia with the Peugeot 604.
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No good can ever come from a French large-car. It certainly didn't for Kia with the Peugeot 604.

Fiat 132/Peugeot 604

In a weird attempt to get into the larger car market, Kia also built both the Fiat 132 and Peugeot 604 alongside each other from 1979 until 1981.

Licensed from their respective manufacturers, Kia built 4759 132s from CKD kits and a vague quantity of 604s before production ended in 1981. Seeing a recurring theme here? That is because in 1981 newly installed military dictator Chun Doo-hwan forced consolidation on the South Korean car industry, meaning that Kia was only allowed to build light trucks until 1986.

Kia got Lotus Elan at end-of-season sale and made its own version in 1966.
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Kia got Lotus Elan at end-of-season sale and made its own version in 1966.

Lotus Elan

When it was allowed to start making cars again in 1986, Kia did so with the Ford alliance, but its days of producing weird orphans that started out as other cars weren't quite over and in 1995 Kia bought up the rights to the discontinued Elan sports car from Lotus.

The Kia Elan ditched the Isuzu-sourced 1.6-litre engine Lotus used in favour of an its own 113kW petrol four-cylinder unit and built the Elan from 1996-99. Kia also exported the Elan to Japan, where it was called the Vigato and was not terribly successful.

 - Stuff

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