Before N - Scoupe #2
The Past and Present of Scoupe
Through episode #1 on Hyundai Motors' Scoupe, which marks the dawn of the Korean domestic sports car industry, we discussed the birth of Scoupe.
In the second episode, we would like to hear from our driver, who has kept in step with Scoupe. Through a 2016 test drive, we will also showcase the various attractive features of Scoupe.
"The introduction of Scoupe has changed Korean motorsports entirely."
- Kim Han-bong, a former Scoupe owner
Kim Han-bong is a living legend of Korean motorsports. His achievement started with the off-road race held in Yeongjong-do, Incheon in 1987, and includes the completion of the Dakar rally race in Paris, the WRC rally in Australia, and the APRC rally in Malaysia, as well as his attendance at Super Taikyu in Japan.
He was driving a different car at the time of Scoupe Turbo’s initial launch. He soon bought the Scoupe Turbo because he was attracted by its excellent features. Through his story, he tells us his cherished memories of how Scoupe dominated the Korean motorsports scene.
I wonder how your first encounter with Scoupe came about.
When Scoupe Turbo was first introduced, I was driving the Kia Concord racing car. The introduction of Scoupe changed Korean motorsports entirely. Based on its light weight, Scoupe was agile in movement, with superb functionalities. It was even said by some that driving Scoupe would ensure victory. After much consideration, I changed the settings of Scoupe Turbo in accordance with the regulations, and was able to achieve results which got me a place on the podium.
How did Korean motorsports change after Scoupe was launched?
It was around 1991 that Scoupe first appeared in the field of Korean motorsports. Before the launch of Scoupe Turbo, it was the light-weight Kia Pride which dominated the sports. There was no doubt that Scoupe, with its strong engine on a light weighed car body, would take over the field The scope of the powerful Scoupe, which started with off-road games, was extended to on-road races. This continued until the follow-up car model Tiburon was introduced. Due to Scoupe’s popularity, there was an increased public interest in motorsports.
What impact did Scoupe have on automotive culture, as well as on motorsports?
Scoupe was admired not only by car racers, but also by car enthusiasts. With Scoupe’s increased popularity, the car tuning market also boomed. Before the introduction of Scoupe, the functional tuning was only carried out with respect to an expansion of the engine output. However, the launch of Scoupe Turbo, with its enhanced engine output, brought about tuning in the body kit, suspension, and cooling and electronic systems. For that very reason, Scoupe is considered to be a pioneer in the diverse field of auto tuning.
Do you have any special memories of the Scoupe Turbo?
The memory of my first off-road game after buying Scoupe Turbo for the first time in 1992 is the most special of all. The racing cars that ranked in the top list were mostly Scoupe Turbos, and fierce competition, even harsher than the current games, followed. Due to the competitiveness of the game, the intercooler hose broke four laps before the final lap. That was such a blow that I had to retire after that incident. Based on this experience, I was keen to perfect the racing car, so Scoupe had a positive impact on my career. Scoupe is like a teacher to me.
"I have no doubts that Hyundai N will be the car that will set the bar high for Korean motorsports events."
Is there anything you anticipate from Hyundai N which will be showcased later on?
I was so delighted to hear that Hyundai is manufacturing high performing cars. Just as Scoupe did when it was introduced, I’m sure Hyundai N will set trends in Korean motorsports. With the perfection of the car will come the completion of the game cars, which will eventually enhance overall performance at the games. As a car enthusiast, I am sure that everyone will welcome the high performing cars which will enable real driving. I hope that Hyundai Motor, based on its technology and the know-how from WRCs, will manufacture a car which will making driving a delight.
"I will keep Scoupe to the end"
- Kang Il-joong, a current Scoupe owner
It’s clear from his statement “I will keep Scoupe to the end", that Scoupe is an important element in Kang's life. His attraction to cars reached a new high after his encounter with Scoupe. For him, the car was now more than just a means of transportation.
After attending the car community, Kang fell in love with Scoupe. The more he studied cars, the greater his passion became. He owned about seven Scoupes.
Please introduce your current Scoupe.
I have two Scoupes right now. One is a non-tuned version and the other is a tuned version. First of all, my tuned Scoupe is for "racing" with its 260 ps. My tuned Scoupe, equipped with 1.5 liter Alpha turbo engine, has superb features and durability, enhanced by my experiences and my knowledge, which I have built up over time. It took about 3 years to complete the current setting. It has been maintained in a good condition up to now, aside from one engine error, caused by a bad decision on my part.
My relationship with the un-tuned car I got from the Scoupe community is particularly special. The first impression was not that good. There was a crack on the window, the engine start was unstable and there were many parts that needed treatment. I purchased it from its owner, who had imported it directly from California to Korea. At that time, the seller was worried about the car status and treatment, but I was not concerned at all because I had all the Scoupe parts back then. So I only paid about 300,000 KRW, which was the disposal fee back then. I repaired it thoroughly after a purification process, which left it in the condition it is in now. It has been maintained in its original state, with the exception of the steering wheel, aluminum wheel and audio deck.
You've probably had many trials and errors, since you have taken much interest in tuning.
To reach the goal of getting a high performing Scoupe, there is no other way but to study alone. This process involved changing the main parts, such as the engine, transmission, etc. Some may think me crazy, but it was a total delight for me. I even changed the turbine once a month to enhance the alpha turbo engine output to 200 ps. I also swapped the turbo engine, the next version of alpha engine, to be able to fully enjoy the sports driving. To resolve the turbo rag situation, meaning the output is generated once the engine rotates to a certain level, I set up the twin turbo in a sequential method. I was able to accelerate better than before, but found that the turbine life cycle was too short. The turbine probably could not endure because I set it in such a way that the turbine would generate the maximum output when the turbine, which controls the low-rotation sector, is operated.
"You've probably heard stories like 'historical car found after years and years in foreign countries, right? My final goal is similar. I would like to conceal the Scoupe perfectly so that it won't be damaged and bury it underground."
How do you manage to keep Scoupe?
Scoupe is certainly difficult to maintain because of its age. Since there are no Scoupes in the junkyard, having an accident would pose a problem. So whenever I have the chance to purchase parts that are in their initial condition, I just buy them. I purchase them via the items sold on the Scoupe community. The community has such a good network, so it’s easy to share information about parts and cars.
Speaking of the community, Scoupe was the first car to play a role in creating vehicle community. We are still active; when you look at the community, you might be mistaken for thinking that Scoupe is still being sold today. The ‘Sports Coupe Family (SCF)’, the first car community and the most representative Scoupe community are all gone, but we still communicate with each other on ‘Scoupe lovers’ community.
What kind of dreams do you have for Scoupe?
I will study how to preserve the untuned Scoupe for the next generation. You've probably heard stories like 'antique car found after years and years' in foreign countries, right? My final goal is similar. I would like to conceal the Scoupe perfectly so that it won't get damaged and bury it underground. I have to live in an apartment complex because I work. But after retiring, I’ll move to a detached house beside mountains and a river. I’ll find a way to conceal the car perfectly and bury it underground around the house. I may also mention in the family tree who the owner was, just to let the later generations know.
"I hope that the Hyundai N will be the stepping stone to generating as many car fans as possible; it will be particularly enjoyable if Hyundai N leaves a lot of potential for tuning."
What do you expect from Hyundai N?
I think the difference between past and present cars is the number of electronic devices. Car parts were simple in the past, but that is no longer the case. I believe that Scoupe was the car that inspired many budding mechanics. I hope that Hyundai N will be the stepping stone to generating as many car fans as possible; in particular, it will be enjoyable if Hyundai N leaves a lot of potential for tuning. If there is a lot of room for the fans to work with, there will be an enhanced interest in tuning.
2016 Scoupe Still Moves Delightfully
You will see considerable difference in a car when you actually drive it. This is why I drove the Scoupe, overcoming the barrier of 20 years of history The target of the test drive is the '95 New Scoupe, which features Hyundai Motor's independently developed in-line 4 cylinders 1.5 liter, alpha engine and exclusive 5 transmission. The sophisticated design highlights its longevity and it has an impressive sporty look. In addition, its agile movement facilitated by its light weight makes it a joy to drive even today.
The test drive car, equipped with a 1.5 liter alpha engine with a maximum output of 102 ps, can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 11.1 seconds and has a top speed of 180km/h, which were fairly decent specs for the times. If you really push the car, you will see that it gains in strength as it crosses the 2,500 rpm mark, unlike the initial driving stage when there is not much torque. It’s quite fun to raise the speed by increasing the number of engine rotations to nearly to 6,000rpm. The car has enough power that the front wheels slide when you start the car after having rotated the engine several times.
The reason why Scoupe moves so well despite its age is its light weight. Scoupe, equipped with a 1.5 liter alpha engine, weighs only 970kg, which enables speedy acceleration when compared to its engine functions. Its weight does not only facilitate the acceleration, but its movement as well. The car’s movement is simple, consistent and provides an enjoyable driving experience. The brake’s easy speed reduction is impressive taking into account the age of the model.
Scoupe has 13 inch wheels and tires; these tires absorb shock from rough road surfaces. So I didn't feel any discomfort when driving over bumps at 30km/h without reducing the speed. At that time, there probably were many cars which were uncomfortable, but it was amazing how lightly and comfortably Scoupe drove.
Hyundai Motor defined Scoupe as a "sports fashion car" when it was first introduced. In the initial stage, it was its design and individuality that were the focus, rather than its functionality. But with the introduction of Scoupe Turbo, Hyundai Motor brushed off concerns about functionality and gained a series of accolades as “Korea's first" in many categories.
Above all, Scoupe is valued as the car that successfully introduced the "sports car" genre to the Korean automobile industry. Scoupe, the first car ever manufactured as a response to car enthusiasts, will be remembered for setting the bar high for cars. At this point I will finish the story of my test drive, but the story of Scoupe continues.
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