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The Daewoo Bucrane was the budget V6 coupe we never got

Oh, how things could have been different (Narrator: they could not have been different)

  • What is this saucy looking coupe?

    This is the Daewoo Bucrane, a 1995 concept car that was launched at the Korea motor show in Seoul and appeared later in the year at the British motor show as part of the UK launch shenanigans for the new budget Korean brand. Remember Daewoo? Maybe you don’t – the firm was known for forgettable cars but great customer service.

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  • A sexy budget Korean car? That’ll be the Daewoo.

    Well, quite. Can you imagine if this was the sort of car that they decided to launch the new brand with? It could have been completely different. In a similar vein to Hyundai and Kia, Daewoo began its life as a manufacturer slapping new badges on other carmakers’ products. Its first in-house production was the 1997 Lanos, a curvy looking hatch. The 1998 Matiz was a particular hit with the older demographic in the UK.

  • Who designed the Bucrane?

    Like most of Daewoo’s other designs, the Bucrane was penned by Italian styling house Italdesign – the wizards behind such diverse creations as the BMW M1, Alfa Romeo Brera and Fiat Punto. It was based on the Daewoo Arcadia saloon (1994-1999), never sold in the UK, which was itself based on the second-generation Honda Legend. Italdesign said the car was inspired by the proportions of the classic sports cars of the Sixties, what with its long bonnet and muscular haunches. Excitingly for Daewoo fans (no one), the Bucrane also featured a new design of the company badge and front grille. 

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  • What’s under the bonnet?

    This is where it gets exciting – the engine is a 3.2-litre V6, pumping out 240bhp and 228ft lb of torque. Where it gets less exciting is when you find out that power is sent to the front wheels through a four-speed auto box. Oh well, it’s not real anyway. There was no word on performance figures, if the car ever got that far. It was said to have a kerbweight of around 1,400kg, which would have made for spritely if not earth-shattering performance. 

  • Are there any exciting concept car touches?

    Well the doors are quite exciting – Daewoo went for a semi-scissor door on the Bucrane. In fact, the doors opened conventionally, but you had to lift up the windows first, which rose up with the roof and were hinged in the middle of the car. All terribly complicated – the bonus was that these rising sections could be removed, creating a targa-style set-up for fresh air.

  • Wow, that sounds really impractical.

    It would have been awkward to get in and out, and also quite an elaborate way of getting fresh air – as far as we can tell, the windows don’t seem to open. Otherwise the Bucrane looked very comfortable with its squishy leather seats, and featured an almost usable second row of chairs behind. 

  • Why didn’t the Bucrane go into production?

    Because it was a Daewoo, one imagines. Would you have bought one? If it had gone on sale, the only way depreciation would have been quicker is if you crashed it into a tree as you turned out of the dealership car park. Or... perhaps it could have been given a fancier badge. Take a look at the Maserati 3200 GT, also designed by Italdesign, which went on sale in 1998. If you squint a bit there’s a very strong resemblance there...

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  • Whatever happened to Daewoo?

    Daewoo’s car division got off to a strong start in the UK after its 1995 launch. Riding high, the Korean carmaker bought SsangYong in 1998, then sold it again two years later when it started to get into financial hot water. Daewoo itself was then sold to General Motors in 2001, the kiss of death for any car company. In 2005, all the Daewoos sold in Europe were rebadged as Chevrolets, and by 2016 the company had cut and run until all it had left on sale over here was the Corvette. Sad times. Daewoo's Korean presence was renamed GM Korea, wiping out any trace of the old brand.

    The wider Daewoo Group had been a Korean behemoth, making televisions, ships, buses and running a chain of hotels. The company went bankrupt in 1999, its chairman fleeing the country before returning to face the music in 2006. None of which would have happened if the Bucrane had been given the green light for production. Probably.

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