A view of some classics at antique car exhibition

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A view of some classics at antique car exhibition

Korea has its share of motor shows, where the latest in automobile design is displayed for public viewing. The 2004 International Classic Motor Show promises to be something a bit different.
Opening today at COEX Center Pacific Hall in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, and running until Jan. 5, the International Classic Motor Show brings together more than 50 rare cars, mostly from Europe. On display will be cars from the late 1800s to the late 1940s, including a few futuristic designs.
Take the 1929 Mercedes-Benz SSK sports car, which sold in September for $9.67 million at Bonham, a British auction house. When the car was manufactured, Ferdinand Porsche led the Mercedes-Benz design team. He invented the first supercharged Mercedes-Benz SS & SSK sports cars in Stuttgart, Germany in 1923. The legendary SSK had a top speed of 150 miles per hour from its 300-horsepower engine.
There’s also a Bugatti Type 35, designed by Ettore Bugatti, son of Carlo Bugatti, an artist and furniture designer. The younger Bugatti was soon drawn to mechanical design; one of his most famous designs is the Type 35. Initially a successful race car model, it soon saw competition from Fiat, which manufactured cars with superchargers. Bugatti finally relented and added a supercharger to his design. From 1927 to 1931, the Type 35 dominated the racing scene. The French driver Rene Dreyfus once said, “You could place the car wherever you wanted, the road-holding was fantastic...the precision of the steering was something fantastic.”
Bugatti, who was also famous for ignoring innovations that didn’t come from in-house, was slow to adopt hydraulic brakes. When one of his customers complained about the brakes, legend has it that Bugatti retorted, “I make my cars to go, not to stop.”
In a tribute to the Bugatti family, there’s a Bugatti 57C from 1938. Bugatti’s son, Jean Bugatti, designed the 57C with a special alloy body shell. Soon after, he was killed in an accident while testing a race car. Also appearing are the Vis-a-vis, Delage D8 and Citroen TAV 15CV.
The exhibition is divided into seven sections, and includes car models that former Korean presidents drove. The future design section features cars designed by Korean college students. While the bulk of the cars have been brought to Korea from France, Baik Jun-gil, an avid antique car collector, has also lent a few from his collection to the show.
The history of the automobile, one of the most revolutionary inventions in transportation, dates back to 1769, when Nicolas Joseph Cugnot built the first self-propelled road vehicle, the three-wheeled Fardier a vapeur. However, the first practical automobile had to wait until the workable internal combustion engine was invented. The history of cars in Korea dates back to 1903, when King Gojong imported a Ford Model T.


by Joe Yonghee


Admission is 12,000 won ($11.30) for adults. For more information, visit the Web site www.classiccar.co.kr.
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