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Hyundai (Yes, Hyundai) Designs Own Engine, Reaches New Heights With It : Cars: With Scoupe’s Pikes Peak win, Korean auto maker’s U.S. headquarters in Fountain Valley has springboard to launch ads for ’93 models.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Spirits are soaring as high as the Rockies over in that corner of Fountain Valley that calls itself Hyundai Motor America.

After years of using power plants designed by Mitsubishi Motors, its Japanese partner, Korean car maker Hyundai has designed its own engine--and used it to win an important U.S. performance contest.

Hyundai? Yes, Hyundai--to quote the company’s soon-to-be-abandoned U.S. advertising slogan.

A Hyundai Scoupe equipped with the company’s new turbocharged, 16-valve, dual overhead camshaft Alpha series engine--and piloted by a very good driver--slithered to victory in its class during the annual Pikes Peak Race to the Clouds hill climb in Colorado on July 4.

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And its class was a pretty hairy one: high performance showroom stock for two-wheel-drive vehicles.

The Pikes Peak competition included a pair of Nissan 300ZX twin turbos, a V-8 powered Chevrolet Camaro and a supercharged Volkswagen Corrado.

Driver Rod Millen piloted the Scoupe up the mountain in 13 minutes, 21.17 seconds--almost seven seconds ahead of Roger Mears in one of the propane-powered Nissans.

A twin-turbo Mitsubishi 3000GT won the showroom stock division for four-wheel drive cars with a record time of 13 minutes, 4.38 seconds.

Millen’s win and overall second-place finish behind the Mitsubishi (also a company whose U.S. headquarters is in Orange County) provides Hyundai Motor America a springboard from which to launch advertising for its 1993 models, although only the Scoupe will be equipped with the new engines.

In the Scoupe, the 1.5-liter Alpha engines will come in two versions--turbocharged and regular, or “normally aspirated” in auto-speak.

The Pikes Peak hill climb is the country’s second oldest auto race (the Indianapolis 500 is the granddaddy) and, many veterans say, its most demanding.

Drivers must wrestle their cars around a twisting dirt and gravel road--156 turns, mostly of the hairpin variety--that is 12.5 miles long and climbs 6,000 feet in elevation as it winds up the mountain.

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Just to spice things up, there are no guardrails on any of the turns. There are, however, a lot of sheer drops.

Hyundai driver Millen, an internationally recognized rally driver who splits his time between Newport Beach and his native New Zealand--had won two previous Pikes Peak races before this year’s run with the 1993 Scoupe.

The turbocharged Scoupe and the rest of Hyundai’s 1993 models are scheduled to hit U.S. showrooms in October.


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