Niagara Gazette

Columns

May 2, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: How do you say the name of that car?

Niagara Gazette — My radio program “The Car Show” started airing in 1992 on News-Talk 930 WBEN in Buffalo. The show was new to the public and I was new to radio and automotive journalism. I had to report on all things automotive so when I got the call in the early ‘90s from a friend in the car business asking me to test drive a new product to the US, I accepted the invitation. He was evaluating a car line called Hyundai for a possible franchise deal. My first reaction to the name of the car was, “How do you say it? High-Un-dai?” The particular model I was testing that day was a Sonata. So we all piled into this thing called a High-Un-dai Sonata. At first glance it was reminiscent of my childhood days when we played inside 55-gallon drums in which both ends of the drum had been cut off. Tin can-like clanging best describes my first ride in the High-Un-dai. Not very impressive to say the least. At the end of the test drive my friend asked me what I thought in the presence of the young/new/green High-Un-dai factory rep, to which I replied “It’s great if you enjoy riding in a tin can! I would pass on this non-inspiring product; it’s a piece of junk!” My friend said sheepishly, “Ok then Tom, thanks for telling us how you really feel.” He ignored me and took the franchise and it’s a good thing he did because as they say; the rest is history. It took Hyundai (Rhymes with Sunday) a few years to gage what the American motoring public wanted but when they got it down in the late ‘90s, they got it down. The brand became an Asian powerhouse pumping out one great product after another, starting with the Sonata redo.

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