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Before N - Tiburon #2

Icon of Challenge

Tiburon

In the first part of the episode on Tiburon, the genuine muscular sports car, we have touched upon its design, enhanced functions and outstanding achievements in WRC, which all make it well-suited to its name, “Shark”.

The second part on Tiburon consists of interviews with Tiburon project team members, who told us interesting stories behind Tiburon, and interviews with young customers who said that Tiburon has made their dreams come true. A special edition story that will promote the value of Tiburon is also included.

“Tiburon made us listen to the opinions of an extraordinary minority.”
- Ryu Joo-ha, the former product manager of Tiburon at Hyundai Motor

Ryu Joo-ha

Please introduce yourself.

Hello, my name is Ryu Joo-ha, and I am in charge of the Hyundai Motor Banpo Shop. During the Tiburon era, I was working in the product marketing team and I managed the product operation of code name J2. J2 was divided into sedan, wagon and coupe, and Tiburon was the coupe model at that time. Afterwards, Tiburon got its new code name “RD” and was officially launched in April 1996. Now that I’m talking about it all the memories from that time come back to me so easily.

Ryu Joo-ha

I heard there is a story behind the name.

At that time, we were thinking of giving Tiburon two different names – one for Korean use and the other for overseas use. The name ‘Tiburon’ was thought to be appropriate for the overseas market since it was easy to pronounce. In the meantime, names like “Elion” and “Cyon” were the candidates for the Korean name. But, after a series of discussions, we decided to stick with the name ‘Tiburon’ in the Korean market too, since the name was thought to be befitting of the image of a shark, both in terms of its design and functions. When it was first launched, we put drawings associated with the shark before and after the word “Tiburon” to emphasize the shark image.

How was the customer’s response when Tiburon was launched after Scoupe?

Totally great. There were about 4,000 contracted buyers in the first month after the launch alone; we had to adjust the manufacturing volume. What delighted the customers most was that Tiburon had engine power with 2.0 liter engine, which was only applied in the medium =sized cars, despite the compact car body and the strong and sharp image inherited from HCD-1 and HCD-2, Hyundai Motor’s first concept cars.

Tiburon community

“After work, I would go to a gathering of the Tiburon owner’s club.”

Tiburon had many maniacs at that time. How did you communicate with them?

While Scoupe contributed to the creation of the Korean car communities, Tiburon was the model that really made the community active. Tiburon’s representative community was “Tiburon Owner Group (TOG)” which nestled in Hitel. After the launch of Tiburon, I went to their gathering, just to carry out some a market research, and I was so surprised. Since their level of understanding about the car was much higher, I learned a lot from them.
After this, we proactively reached out to them to listen to their opinions. We even enjoyed driving with them from the moment we finished work to early the next morning. Trying hard to stay awake, we documented all the customers’ opinions to report them to our headquarters and the R&D center (laughs). Whenever there was a car to be test driven, we conducted a small test drive session. When they had a hard time selecting a venue for a meeting, we let them hire the head quarter’s meeting room. The opinions voiced by customers about Tiburon were communicated to the company, and this certainly had an impact on the development of Tuscani, in terms of high 2.7 liter cc engine or v6 automatic transmission.

Do you have any special memories to share from the manufacturing process?

I remember the hardships we went through to improve the large rear spoiler with which the Tiburon TGX model was equipped. With a few days left before the TGX launch, there was an issue where the rear spoiler vibrated too much during high speed driving. We had to come up with measures to mitigate this. Fortunately, with my experience in working at the molding department before coming to the product marketing team, I had an idea of how to resolve the issue. I brought the plan to the Ulsan Factory for a series of discussions. This series of discussions even made me miss my plane! After all these efforts, we were able to launch the model without a hitch.

Ryu Joo-ha

What does Tiburon mean for Hyundai Motor?

It means a “challenge” for Hyundai Motor. Before the launch of Tiburon, HM’s line-up was mass-segmented. As a company with rapid growth, we only focused on popular cars that could satisfy customers in all segments. But Tiburon was different. Since this car was only born for a specific segment of car lovers, we tried hard to listen to their voices and respond to their demands. We challenged ourselves to implement the functions that would satisfy the most demanding enthusiasts, and our special models, such as the Tiburon TGX, showcased our hard efforts. Tiburon, all in all, is believed to have greatly contributed to adding further competencies to Hyundai Motor.

What do you think about Hyundai N that is about to be showcased?

I believe it dates back to October 2004. In the product strategy meeting, I once addressed the need for high performing cars. Back then, I believed that we needed high performing cars, not only for the sales-centric quantity growth, but also for the quality growth that would create new customer segments and promote the brand image. I stayed overnight to prepare the presentation materials. Anyhow, the company decided that we need to have more capabilities to develop high performing cars. Since then, the company has been preparing itself step by step for the high performing car, but at its own pace. Likewise, Hyundai N, which took a long time to build , does not only shift Hyundai Motor’s driving performance up one level, but will also give it a brand new image.

“Driving Tiburon is like having the dreams of my youth come true.”
– Kim Woong-kyeum & Choi Bit-nam, current Tiburon owners

There are two similarities between Kim Woong-kyeum and Choi Bit-nam: they are only in their 20s and they each own a Tiburon which is as old as they are.

They both greatly admired Tiburon when they were young; it gave them a dream and ignited their passion for cars. This, in turn, led them to work in the automotive field.

  • Kim Woong-kyeum, current Tiburon owners

    How did you first encounter Tiburon?

    Kim Woong-keyum (Hereafter “Kim)”: When I was young, Tiburon was like my dream celebrity. Whenever I saw the commercial, I got so excited. In those days when I saw Tiburon on the road, I could not sleep. My love and passion for Tiburon got greater; it was as if I had fallen in love. I told myself that I would really get one when I got older.

  • Choi Bit-nam, current Tiburon owners

    Choi Bit-nam (hereafter “Choi”): It’s quite the same with me. When I was young, I accidently saw this blue Tiburon Special on the road, and it was love at first sight. It was the car driven by a popular idol and it was nicknamed “Pocari”. After that, I set myself the goal to own a Tiburon special, and this developed my interest towards cars.

  • Tiburon TGX

    Could you please introduce your Tiburon?

    Kim: My car is Tiburon TGX. With fine gear ratio for excellent acceleration function and stylish exclusive rear spoiler, people really loved the Tiburon TGX. It is still maintained in its original condition, and I still feel that it is a delight to drive, even though two years have passed. Whenever the weather is fine, I enjoy going out for a drive.

  • Tiburon Special

    Choi: My car, of course, is Tiburon Special. I have two Tiburon Specials: one is kept in its initial condition and the other one is tuned to partake in motor sports. Tiburon is the model that conquered Korean motorsports, so I enjoy driving it on the circuits.

  • Kim Woong-kyeum, current Tiburon owners

    There are many new sports models. Is there any reason why you stick to Tiburon?

    Kim: Of course, it is hard to compare the functional aspect of Tiburon with the newest sports models. However, driving Tiburon is like the dreams of my youth are coming true. The smooth engine rotation quality, good accelerating function, sharp movement and the attention it attracts all add value to the emotional aspect of Tiburon. In addition, with a design that only looks better as time goes on I’m not attracted to any other car.

  • Choi Bit-nam, current Tiburon owners

    Choi: Of course, I sometimes look at other sports models in delight. But, the fact that there are not many Tiburons on the road makes me happy that I own one In foreign countries, classic cars are often handled with care. This kind of culture is now spreading to Korea as well, and I am quite proud that I have contributed to this. By treating Tiburon with care, I hope that it will become a standard for Korean classic sports cars.

Special Edition that Added Value to Tiburon

Tiburon Convertible (1997)

Tiburon Convertible (1997)

The Tiburon Convertible, co-developed by Hyundai Motor America and Hyundai Motor Technical Center, was designed in a way that enabled the drivers to open and close the roof with one button. In January 1997, a concept car was introduced at the Detroit Motor Show, intriguing many in the audience. But, unfortunately, it was not produced in mass. Currently, the concept car is kept at the R&D History Hall in Hyundai Motor’s Namyang R&D Center.

Tiburon Special (1997)

Tiburon Special (1997)

This model is deemed the most important model in the history of Tiburon. Launched in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Hyundai Motor, the Tiburon Special features the MOMO’s exclusive aluminum wheel and symbolic stripe pattern. Inside the car, there is a wooden steering wheel and a gear knob manufactured by MOMO. A high cam has been installed in the engine to enhance the maximum output by 4 ps (154 ps), and with a high speed of 225km/h and an acceleration time of 7.3 seconds for 0-100km/h, the Tiburon Special had the best acceleration performance of all the Korean cars back then. In addition, the suspension, with its shock absorbers manufactured by SACHS from Germany, enhanced its stability during high performance driving and handling function.

Tiburon Special (1997)

The biggest change was the light weight. By changing 300 parts and manufacturing the hood, fender, door and tail gate in aluminum, the body weight was reduced to 1,135kg from the previous Tiburon, which is a 25kg reduction in total. Only 500 of the edition were manufactured for sale, and due to this scarcity, owning a Tiburon Special was held in high esteem.

  • 'Tiburon Aluminum Body', the prototype of 'Tiburon Special'

    The aluminum material used for the body panel gives it a futuristic aura.

    'Tiburon Aluminum Body', the prototype of 'Tiburon Special'
  • 'Tiburon Aluminum Body', the prototype of 'Tiburon Special'

    The aluminum material used for the body panel gives it a futuristic aura.

    'Tiburon Aluminum Body', the prototype of 'Tiburon Special'
  • 'Tiburon Aluminum Body', the prototype of 'Tiburon Special'

    The aluminum material used for the body panel gives it a futuristic aura.

    'Tiburon Aluminum Body', the prototype of 'Tiburon Special'
  • 'Tiburon Aluminum Body', the prototype of 'Tiburon Special'

    The aluminum material used for the body panel gives it a futuristic aura.

    'Tiburon Aluminum Body', the prototype of 'Tiburon Special'
  • 'Tiburon Aluminum Body', the prototype of 'Tiburon Special'

    The aluminum material used for the body panel gives it a futuristic aura.

    'Tiburon Aluminum Body', the prototype of 'Tiburon Special'
  • 'Tiburon Aluminum Body', the prototype of 'Tiburon Special'

    The aluminum material used for the body panel gives it a futuristic aura.

    'Tiburon Aluminum Body', the prototype of 'Tiburon Special'
  • Image of leaflet explaining the features of Tiburon Special

    Image of leaflet explaining the features of Tiburon Special
  • Image of leaflet explaining the features of Tiburon Special

    Image of leaflet explaining the features of Tiburon Special
  • Image of leaflet explaining the features of Tiburon Special

    Image of leaflet explaining the features of Tiburon Special
  • Image of leaflet explaining the features of Tiburon Special

    Image of leaflet explaining the features of Tiburon Special
  • Image of leaflet explaining the features of Tiburon Special

    Image of leaflet explaining the features of Tiburon Special
  • Image of leaflet explaining the features of Tiburon Special

    Image of leaflet explaining the features of Tiburon Special
Coupe F2

Coupe F2 (1998)/ Coupe F2 Evolution (1999)

To celebrate the excellent results from WRC, Hyundai Motor UK sold a special limited edition called Hyundai Coupe (Tiburon’s name in Europe) F2. It is a model with lip added on the front bumper, as well as a mesh type front grill and aluminum spoke-type wheel, and only 1,100 of them were manufactured for the limited edition sale. The photograph book and the aluminum keychain of Kenneth Erikkson, Hyundai WRC team’s driver back then, were given as a gift to 500 customers.

Coupe F2

It was priced quite high at £ 17,999 due to the fact that it was a limited edition, but, it still became very popular among British consumers, which led to the launch of the next model, Coupe F2 Evolution. The new model had a newly designed front bumper, rear spoiler, enhanced engine functions with 154 ps, new 16 inch aluminum wheel and high functional brake pad, as well as a model-name engraved door-scuff. Coupe F2 Evolution was also highly acclaimed, resulting in a total sales volume of 1,500 manufactured cars.

Tiburon was a genuine sports car that was inspired by a concept car and befitted its name “shark”. With functions that went beyond the specifications of a normal car and a sophisticated design that was ahead of its time, Tiburon soon grabbed the attention of the world. It brushed away concerns about the identity of a sports car by overcoming the functional limits, previously considered as a shortcoming of Scoupe.

With various special editions, Tiburon enhanced its value as a product and made the Hyundai Motor brand widely known globally through its achievements in the WRC, one of the top 3 motorsports events in the world. It is, in fact, symbolic of Hyundai Motor’s appetite for “challenges” that made its “iconic sports car” loved by the Korean enthusiasts. Its name will forever shine.

More stories on Before N

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    Before N - Tiburon #1

    Korea-born Shark that Went Ahead of its Time

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    The Dawn of the Korean Sports Car

  • Before N - Scoupe #2

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    The Past and Present of Scoupe

  • Before N - Tuscani #1

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    Achieving an Enhanced Driving Experience

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    Technology that Goes Beyond Expectations

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    A New Leap as the Genuine FR Sports Car

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