Saturday, May 26, 2012

Samsung Transportation Museum Part Twelve: Korean Vehicles

I’d hoped to see some classic Korean cars at the SamsungMuseum, since I certainly hadn’t seen any on the roads. There weren’t too many on display at the museum either. Their website lists four, but I only managed to get pictures of three, plus a classic Datsun. They must change their displays from time to time, because while researching some of the other cars, I found a blog entry from 2008 by Rachel So, talking about her visit. She has details and photos of many more Korean cars than were visible when I was there, so if you’re interested, check it out. Unlike me, she can obviously read Korean, as she had much more information on the vehicles.

According to Wikipedia, South Korea’s automotive industry only goes back to 1955 when they started making cars from jeep parts. Kia’s been around since 1964, though not under that name—they originally had a licensing arrangement with Mazda. Hyundai shows up in 1968, working with Ford. They’ve since acquired Kia. Samsung started business in 1998, bad timing on their part due to a financial crisis in Asia. They are currently mostly owned by Renault. These three manufacturers currently produce most of the cars on South Korea's roads.

1969 Kia Master T-600
1969 Kia Master T-600 by Kate Tompkins

There’s a good description of Kia’s history on Perrys blog. It talks about Kia’s first vehicle, a three-wheeled truck called the Master K-360. Looks like the same vehicle as the T-600 at the museum, but the only mention of the T-600 is under the entry for the Kia Brisa. This thing is small, but there are still a lot of small trucks on South Korea’s roads. The low bed is also typical of many of the newer trucks I saw while I was there.
1969 Kia Master T-600 by Kate Tompkins

1976 Hyundai Pony
First Generation Hyundai Pony by Kate Tompkins

I have this in my notes as a 1979, but the website says it’s a ’76, so we’ll go with that. Either way, this four door sedan would be a first-generation Pony (1975-1982). Wikipedia says it was meant to compete with the Kia Brisa (next in the line-up) and was designed by several British engineers, including one who had been involved with the Morris Marina.
First Generation Hyundai Pony by Kate Tompkins

That’s not exactly a recommendation. I remember my parents driving one of those, though ours was an Austin rather than a Morris, and it was after that my dad stopped buying Austins. He said it was a real lemon. Now that I’m looking at it, I can see the family resemblance. I’ll have to check my old albums for possible photos of the Marina to scan in so I can post them side by side.

Wikipedia goes on to say that the Pony was tested by Motor magazine, and was found to have a top speed of 92 mph and could do 0-60 in 15.3 seconds. Definitely not a sports car, but it was exported to several European countries. The second generation (1982-1990) was even exported to Canada, where it apparently did well, as it was inexpensive. Can’t say I remember ever seeing one before my trip to the Samsung Museum.
First Generation Hyundai Pony by Kate Tompkins

1979 Kia Brisa K-303
1979 Kia Brisa K-303 by Kate Tompkins

Wikipedia says the Kia Brisa is based on the Mazda Familia. The first Brisas were pickups, before they started producing cars. They were only built from 1974 to 1981, at which point the government decided light trucks were more important. There must have been considerably fewer cars on South Korea’s roads back then. Apparently only 31,017 Brisa cars were built, and yet it looks like a car meant to be affordable.
1979 Kia Brisa K-303 by Kate Tompkins

1936 Datsun Model 15 Roadster
1936 Datsun Model 15 Roadster by Kate Tompkins

I apologize for the picture quality on this one. It was meant to look like it was in a garage, and the area was consequently poorly lit. You can find all kinds of details about the Model 15 at earlydatsun. This was a nicely restored car and I would have liked to have seen more Asian cars from this period.

We’ve now covered all the categories for the main floor except Cars in Film, but I still have photos of several cars I haven’t discussed, so I guess I’ll need to invent a new category.

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