26 August 2008

Odds and Ends

1974 Hyundai Pony Coupe Concept

I spent a few hours last night, Googling more information on the Hyundai Pony, which was the subject of my previous post. As it turns out, Italdesign, the designer of the car, also came up with a sports coupe concept of the car. While the basic structure, complete with 82 hp 1.2L engine and 4-speed manual transmission, was identical, the body was completely avant-garde. The interior had a one-spoke steering wheel and other futuristic concepts that found their way to 1980s production cars (such as Citroen XM and Hyundai's own Grandeur). Very few people know that this car even existed, and most people (me included) end up mistaking it for a 1982 DeLorean (some say that the DeLorean's design was inspired by this car).

This version of Pony was never produced. While the Japanese automakers had similar sports cars based on economy car platforms (some versions of Toyota Corolla in particular), South Korea at this time was a primitive Third World country with little demand for sports cars. And no export market was going to buy a sports car from such a country. In other words, the market didn't exist. By 1990, things changed though, and Hyundai was producing an Excel-based sports car, called the Scoupe, for many markets, including the US. The modern-day Tiburon is based on the Elantra, and is a spiritual descendant of both the Scoupe and this Pony. Hyundai went on to also set up a design studio in Irvine, California, where the HCD-series of concept cars continue to be born.

Description and more photos

In the meantime, my trip preparations are progressing well. I have just received my supply of KRW 500,000, though I am dismayed to find that it came in 240 (!) banknotes, way too unwieldy. The currency exchange sent me KRW 200,000 in KRW 1,000 notes, adding up to two bundles of 100 banknotes each. (The US equivalent would be carrying $200 in singles!) The rest came in KRW 5,000 and KRW 10,000 notes; 10,000 is the highest denomination, even though it's worth only $10 and therefore still inadequate for the sky-high price tags of Seoul. Even higher-denomination banknotes (KRW 50,000 and KRW 100,000) are in the works, and I'd love to have a few, but they won't hit circulation until next year. At least these banknotes are the new 2006 issue, smaller than the previous design and therefore less unwieldy.

Wikipedia has some sample photos of the banknotes I just got.