The Samsung SSC-1 Was a Mid-Engined Korean Dream

Debuting at the 1997 Seoul Motor Show, Samsung's ambitious sports car was dead before it left the stage.

Samsung prototype sports car in the Samsung Transportation museum. Image shot 2002. Exact date unknown.
Alamyfrank'n'focus

Because pretty much anything was possible in the 1990s, when Lotus was done building its front-wheel drive Elan, it sold the rights to Kia immediately. The South Korean engineers replaced the taillights, which were originally sourced from Alpine, and began Kia Elan production for 1996. Around the same time, Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, presumably enjoying the company's nicest office, dreamt of creating Korea's first proper, mid-engined, rear-wheel drive sports car.

Lee tried to get into the car and truck business to make the most of Samsung's resources and technologies. He wanted to buy Kia, but when that didn't work out, the Samsung Group created two new companies: Samsung Motors, for car production, and Samsung Commercial Vehicles. Everything was set by 1995, just in time for the peak of the Asian financial crisis. Samsung Motors was quickly put up for sale.

Daewoo Motors couldn't buy it, because it was busy being eaten up by General Motors. Hyundai wasn't interested, and ended up investing in a bankrupt Kia in 1997 instead. Then, in the middle of this jam came the 1997 Seoul Motor Show, starring the mid-engined Samsung Sports Car-1 (SSC-1).

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Samsung

The SSC-1 is a one-off concept car with a fiberglass body and Nissan 300ZX headlights. It's powered by a 190-horsepower Nissan-sourced 2.5-liter V6 straight out of Samsung's first series production car, the SM5 sedan. The prototype is fully functional, featuring a five-speed manual, double wishbone suspension and Brembo brakes behind 17-inch wheels. Inside, it has Recaro seats, a Momo steering wheel, various Nissan bits and the 'Multi AV' infotainment system used by Infiniti at the time. But what was it based on?

Some speculate the SSC-1 is related to the Venturi Atlantique, a French sports car built between 1991 and 2000, because both have similar proportions and mid-mounted V6s. What's certain is that in 1998, Samsung Motors partnered with another french automaker, Renault, which took 70 percent stake in the failed car venture.

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Wikimedia Commons

But it gets more confusing. According to British , the photo of the yellow Samsung SSC-1 at the top of this page was taken at the Samsung Transportation Museum in 2002. That's weird, given how a year earlier at the Busan Motor Show in South Korea, a silver SSC-1 was displayed, badged as a Renault-Samsung. The Busan Motor Show is held biennially, meaning that there wasn't one in 2002. The internet seems to agree only one SSC-1 was built, and the silver car was in 2001.

Is Alamy simply wrong about the date? Or are there, in fact, two SSC-1s on this planet despite the fact that the only apparent difference between the two displayed versions seem to be the wheels and the lack of rear reflectors on the silver one?

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The first Busan Motor Show, 2001.
Allcarindex

The Samsung Transportation Museum hasn't yet come to my rescue with the crucial answer.

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