(First posted 3/4/2016. I’m rerunning it in memory of my younger son Will, who wrote this. He lost his decade-long struggle with severe addiction yesterday (5/10/2023). He had been sober for the last three months (in a recovery house), and it was wonderful to be able to experience the real Will for at least a while before the monster got the better of him for the final time.)
It was 2010, I had just dropped out of high school (one of my many brilliant life decisions) and after three attempts at both the driven and written portions of the test I had finally gotten my drivers license. It just so happened that a cute girl that I went to to high school with who was a grade above me was selling her 2000 Daewoo Leganza because she had upgraded to a VW Cabrio. My father and I drove up to her parents house one afternoon to check out the car. At first glance it seemed to be in fairly good condition aside from a scrape or two on the exterior. Immediately what caught my eye was the leather seating and wood grain! Down the road when girls would ask me what a Daewoo was, I’d tell them it was pretty much the Korean version of a Lexus!
My pops took it for a spin around the neighborhood to see how it drove. Being the son of a car guru like Paul Niedermeyer, I always try to take him with me when car shopping or at least have him test drive whatever ridiculous impulse buy I would pull up to his front curb just so I could be reassured I hadn’t bought a total P.O.S. The Daewoo received the stamp of approval from Dad, so $500 dollars was exchanged and off I was in my first car! It was a fairly smooth ride although the interior noise level was nothing to write home about. The mom of my friend who sold us the car warned me to not take it much further than out to the coast but I completely disregarded her advice. I drove her all the way to San Francisco and back, up to Portland, down to the Applegate Valley, weekly trips to Corvallis and all over Eugene. I ended up putting about 20,000 miles on the odometer by the time I was done with it.
After one too many trips to Southern Oregon, the poor Leganza began to overheat. Although I was quoted a repair bill of $500, I was flush at the time and decided it was time to move on and impulsively purchased a newer Ford Ranger.
That truck lasted a couple months, but that’s a whole other story…………..
My relationship with the Leganza finally ended when I found myself in a financial bind and was offered $400 for it from a local scrap yard. I honestly regret getting rid of it and not putting a little time and money into repairing it due to the fact the interior was so clean and I genuinely enjoyed driving it but everything happens for a reason so I hope someone else got to pick her up for a good price and give her a new life.
For further and more detailed review of this same car check out my dad’s (aka Paul Niedermeyer) review:
CC Capsule Review: 2000 Daewoo Leganza – Will’s First Car
Will (1992-2023) He was a ray of sunshine that was constantly being overpowered by the dark clouds.
Welcome aboard, Will! A fine first piece!
Korean Lexus! That’s a term I call The Hyundai Genesis! Back to your Daewoo, If you have 1 or 2 beers, the side view looks like a 1st Gen Buick LaCrosse!
I get the feeling it wasn’t the Rangers fault…mine is 33 and still great…Welcome aboard!
Those aren’t scrapes, they are character lines. 😉
Leather and wood grain. These are the main ingredients that make a car luxurious.
How long did you have the car?
About a year give or take!
Any upcoming stories about the Fiero and Plymouth in the background?
These were shot back in 2010. Jim Cavanaugh wrote up the ’59 Plymouth. Or more specifically, he had left a long comment which I then turned into the text of the post. That was how I snared him into being a writer for CC! 🙂
It’s not the exact same one, but here’s my kick-to-the-groin on another white Fiero:
My first car was an 80 Corolla stick, so you got way more than you paid for.
My first car was a 1966 Datsun PL411. You ALL got way more than you paid for. 🙂
I seem to remember reading that the design for the Leganza was originally offered to Jaguar, who turned it down as the basis for a smaller than XJ sedan. But that info is probably in the referenced article?
I never cared for Daewoo’s “corporate” grille….it looked like it was another brand’s disguise.
Yeah… that interior is comfy looking, but I agree about the grille. It’s a Buick with its nostrils flared.
I never got close enough to one of these to look inside – it is actually quite nice. Most of the outside is pleasant enough, thought that grille never worked for me.
I just noticed the background of the lead shot – “My” 1959 Plymouth, that turned out to be my accidental first contribution here at CC. I look forward to reading more from you.
A girl I know had one of these. When the franchise folded, GM refused to honor the outstanding warranties even though GM bought bankrupt Daewoo.
The dealer was kind enough to call her on occasion and bring her in for warranty work (apparently below GM’s radar). Eventually, the dealer could do no more. She kept it for awhile because she was so “upside down” on the amount owed versus the market value. She eventually traded it because parts and service was becoming more difficult.
A usually financially somewhat sound coworker was eventually forced to roll the debt from her Nubira onto a Toyota Corolla.
Daewoo has been churning out GM cars since the 70s that I know of Ive seen the Chevy 1700 wagon they produced using Holden and Vauxhall / Opel parts its interesting that GM kept them at a distance so long, the engines for these Daewoo were produced at Fishermans bend a GMH engine plant in OZ.
Welcome aboard, Will. Daewoo built a pretty decent car, but IIRC their new-car sales strategy was truly bizarre–recruiting college campus reps, that sort of thing. Maybe one of the commentariat can more thoroughly recall what it involved. Also, I never understood the model names; to me, “Nubira” and “Lanos” sounded like planets.
Like Mercury or Saturn! LOL!
No more like Uranus.
The Newbeera and lanoss names made no sense but they were on old Holden Platforms inherited from elsewhere, The whole dealer or lack of it network collapsed early and the cars lost value early which was unusual in Australia where cars are almost an investment. These Daewoo are rare sights in NZ they simply didnt do well as used cars.
I had a newly-married neighbour who changed jobs and worked as a salesman for a Daewoo dealer. Not a great career move.
I sometimes stop by local Bone Yard, victory Auto Parts, and saw a Lubira being towed in. I hadn’t seen one in years!
My mother bought a used 2007 Suzuki Reno, 7 years ago, and it’s hanging in there. No, I didn’t recommend it, but was cheap for a 2 year old car with only 5000 miles in ’09.
Nice piece, Will, and I totally get the “Lexus” thing – in side profile, it does resemble a slightly shrunken first-generation (1993+) Lexus GS300. (To me, anyway.) Our family rented one from a place that rented used cars, and my initial impression of the interior was the same as yours – very nice looking, especially for its class. But the one we rented was really buzzy under acceleration – like it was about to detonate. My brother-in-law and I joked that “Daewoo” sounded phonetically like the actual sound the car made when you mashed the gas.
Every time I see a Daewoo I have to laugh. I’m reminded of one of the auto magazines talking about the new upcoming model year, in the year that Daewoo pulled the plug on the American market. The description of Daewoo’s nonexistent new models were described as “Daewoo, Dae came, Dae gone.”
I had one from 2003 to 2007. A 1999 Leganza automatic in white bought from the first owners: a convent. Good car; but sadly we had the last of the 2 litres. The next years model in NZ upgraded to 2200 c c and two airbags. It used the Aussie GM Family 2 (ex Vectra) engine. And yes the body design was a recycled Giugiaro proposal for a new small Jaguar called the Kensington. The Lexus GS-300 was also Giugiaro hence the ‘little brother’ family resemblance. I paid $NZ 5000 for it and sold it for an amazing $1600. We live by the beach and rust got it — total WOF inspection failure. Unsurprising as some of the factory white paint was applied micrometer thin in places.
Great info Alistair. Here is the Kensington concept car.
Not a bad car to own by the beach! Locally a contractor that empties rubbish bins etc along the beaches had Tata pickups for the work because no matter what they buy it would rust out completely within a few years, so paying half the cost of a Toyota made sense.
First cars are always a unique experience. No matter how crappy they are, you still love them. No matter how badly you abuse it, there is still a sense of pride the owner usually has. I’m still on my first, and the emotional trip is similar to what I have described above.
So, this is extremely tangential but – just how tough are driving tests in the US and what do they involve exactly? How much variation is there state to state?
Do they cater specifically to different driving conditions in each state? It’s interesting to me that you could take a test in Minnesota and then drive all your days in Montana which must be very different. You can do the same between different European or commonwealth countries but the numbers of people doing that are presumably lower.
Depends on the state you are in. Michigan is known for being pretty easy, while Pennsylvania is known for being incredibly hard. Everything gets regionalized to an extent.
In my state it’s pretty easy: none at all.
I’d guess it’s also common for there to be variety between cities and towns as well. In Massachusetts it’s common for drivers who have failed tests to re-take in a town that where it is much easier to pass.
20k miles out of a $500.00 car and at the end getting $400.00 back. What a great deal!
I had that earlier, and it was goood, But fattening…..
The follow up of the Daewoo Leganza was the Daewoo EVANDA~MAGNUS / Chevrolet EPICA Mk. 1 / Suzuki VERONA. Same chassis with the slightly changed fascia and tail. Exciting thing was with these that some limited numbers were equiped with a 2 Litre small but a V6 petrol engine. Was this engine borrowed from the 2 Litre V6 Suzuki Vitara???
That was actually an inline six, not a V6. I don’t think Suzuki had anything to do with these cars apart from applying badges for some markets (US or North America only?).
Yep, inline six, a dying breed by that time. I thought it was interesting to see a new one on the market, but as I recall the power numbers were disappointingly low.
Welcome, Will! Daewoo or not, must have been nice for your first car to have something with luxury touches like those in the cabin.
Daewoos seem to have mostly disappeared around here. The last one I saw was a Leganza in 2015 that looked like it hadn’t moved in a long time. The Nubira in particular was *so* anonymous, though, that I could probably have seen three on my way to work this morning and wouldn’t have noticed them.
Daewoo is korean for infectious disease. I would never recommend even an enemy buying something so worthless.
Paul; so sorry for the loss of your son!
Oh my God, this is such terrible news. My heart goes out to you Paul. Please accept my sympathies.
Condolences, Paul. People fail to realize that addiction is a real disease.
No parent should ever have to bury a child. Things are supposed to work the other way. This 1st car buying experience sounds like it was also a bonding experience. I hope you’ll always be able to recall such pleasant times. So long as you keep such memories alive, a bit of Will remains with you on this earth in the form of those good memories. Sincere condolences on your family’s loss.
I’m very sorry to hear the news; sincere condolences to you and your family.
Please accept my deepest sympathies over the loss of you son.
So sorry to hear about the loss of your Will, Paul. may light perpetual shine upon him.
This was a well written article on a rather ho-hum vehicle.
Words fail me at a time like this. Best I can do is echo the sentiments of the others.
My heart is broken. Paul, I’m so sorry for your loss. May you find comfort remembering the good times with your son.
Very sorry for your loss, so sad to hear
Paul, I am so sorry. My sincere condolences to you, Stephanie, and the family.
Oh Paul and Stephanie, I am so -so- sorry for your loss. Words fall short when something so terrible, so out of sequence in the way life is supposed to proceed, happens.
Paul and Stephanie, I’m so sorry. I hope you find peace.
I’m very sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family!
Adding to the chorus of condolences. Addiction touches every family in one way or another. I lost a sister-in-law and have a brother who’s long sober now but ravaged by the damage done in the past. The loss of a young life is the bitterest pill to swallow. Wishing you comfort.
I am very sorry to hear of this news. My deepest condolences to you, and your the family.
RIP and condolences,
I’m terribly sorry, Paul. I was quietly rooting for him, and you.
My deep and sincere condolences.
Paul, I am so sorry to hear of your and Stephanie’s loss. My condolences to you and your family. Addiction is a terrible, terrible disease.
That was supposed to read as from David in Tucson.
I’m deeply sorry to hear this news.
My condolences, Paul. The ray of sunshine that you refer to really shows through in this brief article.
Paul, Stephanie and family… my sincerest condolences. 😔
I saw the headline and the car this morning, but was in a hurry and missed the introductory paragraph. I am without words.
Dear Paul and Stephanie,
Our most sincere condolences on your loss.
We hope you can find some peace in your time of anguish.
Len and Annie
My condolences for you both; hold fast to the memories of the good times.
Many condolences to you and Stephanie plus Will’s siblings. Words fail at a time such as this so please know there are many who have you in their thoughts.
My deepest condolences to you and your family
My sincere sympathy and best wishes.
I’ll add my condolences to those of the rest of the crew. As someone who has worked in a Drug and Alcohol program, I’ve got a fair idea of what he went through. He has my sympathy, and may he have found peace.
Paul, I am heartbroken to read this. Words fail me at times like this, but please know that you and Stephanie have our deepest condolences. Please let me know if I can help in any way.
My sincere condolences to you and Stephanie, and your wider family. It is too easy to blame the victim for an addiction, rather than help them as a patient. I hope the good memories will be the ones you can keep closest to you.
Paul, please accept my sincerest condolences to you and your family. The void in your lives is immense, and time can only lessen it to a small extent. Your extended family at CC wish you peace and comfort at this time of deep sorrow. You are in my prayers.
As someone who has had to live in a realtionship with an addict I have some idea of the pain, this is utterly heart wrenching news to read. My deepest condolences
Thank you all for your condolences. It means a lot to us.
We’ve been preparing ourselves for this for a number of years, as it was almost inevitable, but it’s not possible to be fully prepared when it happens.
Will really struggled with life; no more. Now we just need to get past it.
I lost my oldest child to suicide in the last week of 2021. I’ve tried to accelerate getting past it, but it stubbornly insists on taking the time it wants to take. Take excellent care of yourselves through the grief, and let yourselves feel all of the feelings.
My condolences for you and your family Paul, sorry to hear about your loss.
So sorry for your loss, and so sorry for Will.
Remember him on his good days, not his bad.
Paul, my deepest condolences to you and your family. The unspeakable void in your lives can only be lessened a small amount by the passage of time. Your extended family at CC wish you peace and comfort at this time of deep sorrow. You are in my prayers.
Paul- Though I only “know” you from here, I feel like I know you… that’s one of those things that happens in media like CC. I’ve read Will’s Daewoo COAL a few times over the years, as a couple of my friends have owned a Nubira and a Leganza, but skipped right to the bottom this time… I am struggling to form words, as there just aren’t words in the English (or any) language to quantify the thoughts or feelings involved. This hits close to home, as I do know the dark side of addiction and the other demons that hang out in that realm. I’m truly sorry for your loss, your family’s loss.
So sorry to hear this Paul, I know that you all did your best. I hope you & Stephanie will suffer less knowing he is no longer suffering.
What a terrible tragedy and shock. My sincere condolences to you, your family, relatives and friends.
My condolences, Paul, to you, Stephanie, your family and friends. A great way to remember him.
My most sincere condolences to the Niedermeyers for their loss.
Oh Paul. Just seeing this now. I am so very sorry for your loss.
Vert sorry to hear, my condolences to you and your family. I had a good friend go through a similar ordeal, in the same way the end was sadly inevitable after a certain point. All despite substantial family support and medical care. I am sure you did all you could, try not to feel guilty as these things just happen.
Oh what sad news. Yet may that sadness bring positivity as you remember the real Will, and may it bring peace that his suffering is over. To Paul and Stephanie, and your wider network of family and friends, my heartfelt condolences to you all.
So sorry to read this heartbreaking news. My thoughts are with you, and your family.
Such a horrible thing to go through both for Will and you and Stephanie. Reposting this is a great way to remember him and the good times. May Will finally find the peace that eluded him in this life.
Oh Paul. My heart goes out to you and Stephanie.
My most sincere condolences to you, Stephanie and the extended Niedermeyer family.
So sad to hear of such a loss. My condolences to both Paul and Stephanie. May you both see him in pleasant dreams as you sleep. I’ve experienced this with lost loved ones and it is other worldly. When my favorite uncle was dying he told me, “It’s not good bye, it’s just so long for now.” I wish you both peace and tranquility.
Paul, you’ve created and maintained a website that is so friendly it feels like family; hence, we offer deeply felt condolences. Be sure to take all the time you need to spend with family and we’ll be here when you return.
i am so sorry Paul. I hope for comfort and peace for you and Stephanie. Addiction is truly a dark monster and, as you know, never gives up trying to tear apart those we love.
I’ve been reading this site for years but have never commented before. I am deeply sorry for your loss.
I just saw this now, what a shock. Paul, Stephanie, and the Niedermeyer family, please accept my deepest condolences. I am so sorry for your loss.
Oh Paul and Stephanie, I am so very sorry for the death of your son. Peace to you in this time.
Paul (and Stephanie)-
I am so sorry for your loss. I’ve been following Curbside Classic for 14 years now and feel like I know you personally at this point. My thoughts are with you in this difficult time.
So sorry for your loss. You have my sincerest condolences today as I cannot imagine.
So sorry to hear this, Paul. My heart goes out to you and your family.
My condolences and deepest sympathies to you and your family, Paul. Thank you for sharing Will’s COAL.
So sorry for your loss Paul.
Just doing the rounds on CC this morning and came to this unexpected news. Very sorry for your loss.
You don’t know me from Adam, Paul, but this touched me deeply. My sympathies to you and your family.
My condolences to the Niedermeyer family. Things will get better, though never the same.
I can’t say anymore than “I’m sorry”
This is such sad news. My condolences to you and your family. Losing a child is the hardest thing to bear.
My sincere condolences to you, Stephanie and the rest of your family on this tragic loss, Paul. May he find peace.
Let me add our sympathies to you & Stephanie & the entire Niedermeyer family. Even if such an event is known to be imminent or likely, it’s tough to process when it actually occurs.
So true. My thoughts are with you Paul . When it comes to auto journalism your Will was like a chip off the old block and thank you for all your hard woek.
Horrible news. Sincere condolences to you and your family.
I type this with tears.
Very sorry to hear this. Sincerest condolences to you and everyone who was close to your son.
My condolences to you and your family, Paul.
Paul, I am so sorry for your loss.
Words just aren’t enough in these situations; I’m very sorry to hear this, Paul.
I first read and enjoyed this review about 3 years ago. I just gasped when I read this today. I am a father. I have a son who is a great kid, but I fear for him at times. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through and are going through now. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Stephanie and I want to extend our sincere gratitude for all of your comments. It has meant a lot to us. CC has become our extended family over the years, and your support and expressions of concern are very much appreciated.
Although he has left a hole that can’t be filled, Will enriched our lives in many ways. And these last few months when he was sober allowed us to experience him at his best. That was a gift; he went out on a very high note.
So sorry to hear this. May you and your family find peace.
Paul, I am so sorry to hear of Will’s passing. Thank you so much for sharing this piece and his picture, and in so doing, giving him the chance to live on forever in your – and our – memories.