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Concept Car of the Week: Hyundai HCD-1 (1992)

Fri, 10 May 2013

After a difficult start to the '80s, Hyundai thought of a new strategy to penetrate the American market and to compete with the industry leaders – Japanese manufacturers such as Toyota being the primary target. It came back in 1990 and set up the Hyundai California Design Center to develop cars just for 'Uncle Sam'.

The center began with projects such as the Tiburon coupé and the Santa Fe off-roader, both being named after American cities. Hyundai had the right products and good designs, but it also needed to increase desirability as well as sales figures. A flashy red sports car was chosen as the best way to get on the cover of magazines and get maximum impact. The HCD-1 was the first concept car rolling out of this new studio and was unveiled at the 1992 Detroit auto show.

The two-seater speedster has a very purposeful stance and great proportions – anti-cab-forward with a long hood line and large 17-inch wheels. Its body was made of voluptuous volumes mimicking human muscles with strong hips diving forward under the protruding front arches. Every shape seems to have been drawn freehand, and they probably were.

The little targa roof is removable and the rear glass could be fully retracted so even with the roll bar, it really felt like a full convertible.

A 2.0-liter 16-valve DOHC engine produced a small but adequate 150bhp. The car featured other advanced equipment such as ABS, double airbags and independent suspensions.

Designed with production in mind and with an expected price tag of around $14,000, the little red car would have been eating big chunks out of the MX-5 cake.

Length 3,926mm
Width 1,731mm
Height 1,027mm
Wheelbase 2,390mm
Engine 2.0-liter, 16 valves DOHC,
Power 150bhp

Your author, Flavien Dachet, is a UK-based, French-born car designer. You may know him as the purveyor of KarzNshit, a photo blog that if isn't already in your bookmarks, certainly should be.

By Flavien Dachet