Home » We Need To Talk About This Daewoo’s Gull-Wing Windows. Yes, Windows.

We Need To Talk About This Daewoo’s Gull-Wing Windows. Yes, Windows.

Daewoo Brucane Hero Ts2
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Daewoo isn’t a brand that screams automotive enthusiasm, but for a brief time in the mid-1990s, it had exactly that aspiration. As it planned a new slogan, “Daewoo, that’s who” it was also in the process of having Italdesign pen a concept that truly made the most of humble underpinnings. That project was the Bucrane Concept car, and the deeper one looks at it the stranger it gets.

Throughout most of its history leading up to 1995, Daewoo was a Korean automaker known for building inexpensive people-movers. By contrast, in the mid 1990s Italdesign had finished work on gorgeous machines like the BMW Nazca, the Subaru SVX, and the Toyota Aristo/Lexus GS.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Those were only the latest in a string of successful designs dating back to the start of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s career. Remember, Italdesign is also responsible for the BMW M1, the Hyundai Pony, the Italdesign Aztec, and the DMC DeLorean.

Italdesign Collage
Source: ItalDesign

It made sense, then, for Daewoo — who was trying to increase interest in its brand — to try standing on this Italian giant’s shoulders, especially since Daewoo had already used Italian design house Bertone for a previous car, the Espero:

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If that’s what Bertone did, maybe Italdesign could do better?

Enter The Bucrane

Daewoo Brucane Hero
Source: ItalDesign

The car resulting from the tie-up with Italdesign is the Bucrane, which the designer describes as “a stylish, prestigious four-seat hatchback coupe with formal references to the design of the 1960s.” Think of it as sort of a competitor to the Hyundai Tiburon, which debuted around this time.

A write-up from TopGear explains a bit of the intended underlying powertrain:

This is where it gets exciting – the engine is a 3.2-litre V6, pumping out 240bhp and 228 ft-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.

To look at a still image of it, that description isn’t too crazy but watching it show off its party trick is another thing altogether.

Daewoo Bucrane Concept Doors
Source: ItalDesign

Like any good concept, the Bucrane is flashy and it gets that shine from its wacky door setup. The doors themselves open like any other everyday car door. The windows, however, fly up into the air like they would if they were attached to gull-wing doors. Perhaps this is the only case in history of gull-wing windows, and that’s probably good considering how impractical they are.

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According to Italdesgin, “The two-stage system of access to the passenger compartment involved a door opening maneuvre that triggered the raising of the window and the transparent half-roof in a wing-like movement.” Having scoured the few original source materials surrounding the Bucrane it doesn’t appear as though there’s any record of exactly how they function. The video below does show one very short clip of one moving but the hinges aren’t visible and we never see the window finish its movement. 

In theory, one could simply pull the door handle, deftly avoid getting hit by the window itself as it raised up out of the way, and then slide in. These same window panels were meant to be removable to provide an open-air experience. One very quick shot of the panel getting lifted off of the roof appears to show attachment points at the fore and aft sections on the upper spine of the removable window. Presumably, a mechanical link would swing them up when one pulled the door handle. It’s pure supposition but it would’ve likely been possible to drive the car with the gull-wing windows in their fully extended position. 

If those features aren’t enough to sell you on just how sporty and exotic the Bucrane was perhaps the cameo from a famous Lamborghini concept will help. The same year that Italdesign penned the Bucrane it worked on a V10 supercar design for the House of the Raging Bull — a design that ended up being the Cala Concept. Someone somewhere somehow green-lit one shot of the Bucrane promo video below where it appears to drag race the Cala (you’ll have to excuse the low resolution):

Screenshot 2024 02 09 181759
Source: ItalDesign

Sadly, or maybe correctly due to the impracticality of these doors, the Bucrane never sniffed production. Actually, neither did the Lamborghini Cala… maybe this video with the Bucrane cursed it! Regardless, Daewoo itself would end up getting bought out by General Motors and would later turn into a Korean division of Chevrolet. For instance, the Chevy Spark solid in the USA and the Matiz sold in absurd volumes overseas were both rebadged Daewoos.

Despite numerous attempts to get someone from Italdesign to explain to me how the two cars ended up in the same promo, the company has yet to respond. Nevertheless, it goes down as one of the strangest collaborations in a single video that I’ve ever seen, even if both cars were designed by the same legendary firm. Who would think to build such a strange car? Daewoo, that’s who. 

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Here’s where the story takes an interesting turn.

Around this time, Daewoo would end up hitting a lot of trouble as the larger financial crisis in Asia coupled with apparent leadership issues resulted in the company getting sold off to partner General Motors. There are some good details about what happened, and on former Daewoo CEO and founder Kim Woo-choong, in this Reuters obit:

In 1989, Kim published a book that galvanized a new generation of South Koreans with bright dreams for the future. Titled “The World is Wide and There is a Lot to Do,” its English version was called “Every Street is Paved With Gold”.

But Kim’s aggressive leveraged expansion, which swelled the group to 41 affiliate companies, helped push South Korea to the brink of national default during the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s.

Once admired as a hero, Kim fled South Korea in 1999 when Daewoo collapsed with debts of more than $75 billion, forcing the government to step in and take control, leaving taxpayers holding the bag.

The car would never get built, or at least it would never get built as a Daewoo. Around the time of Daewoo’s collapse, ItalDesign did work for nearby Maserati, resulting in the Maserati 3200 GT.

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There’s no historical mention of an official connection between the two but huh, that looks pretty familiar, doesn’t it?

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Iain Tunmore
Iain Tunmore
10 days ago

Gull wing windows shown on a concept released today! https://www.theautopian.com/the-chrysler-halcyon-looks-like-a-fun-art-project-but-the-brand-needs-a-real-car/

Did you guys know this was coming?!

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
11 days ago

Too bad, because the Daewoo would at least be more reliable than any Maserati 😛

That might have been the only Korean car with T-tops

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
11 days ago

The S2 Lotus Elise was shown with gull wing pop-up T tops, but they never made it to production. The production soft top lets you open your half of the roof from inside with a couple of catches to get the same ingress/egress advantage but without the coolness.

A friend had one and cut up a hardtop to make his own gull wing T tops, but he could never get the seals to work.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
11 days ago

I also thought Maserati 3200GT right from first spotting your article, so thanks for mentioning that.

And thumbs up for using one of Ian “HubNut” Seabrooks YT videos, he produces good nerdy Autopian spirited content! 😀

Industrial_design_guy
Industrial_design_guy
11 days ago

At a glance, that’s totally what it looks like, felt the same way

James Davidson
James Davidson
11 days ago

Apropos of nothing, I built an application years ago to assist with site selection for Daewoo dealerships when they were first entering the US market.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
12 days ago

Billionaire windows!

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
12 days ago

Either ItalDesign is really into seafaring birds or they just want to Gullwing Everything since it apparently makes it *fancy*. Gullwing refridgerator, Gullwing pants fly, Gullwing Laptop.

Dennis Birtcher
Dennis Birtcher
12 days ago

Even before reaching the end of the article, the thing was giving me Maserati vibes. Perfectly honest, I think I prefer the aesthetics of the Daewoo more.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
12 days ago

My thoughts exactly.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
11 days ago

I see a lot of Jaguar XK8 in the front, though.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
12 days ago

Maybe get The Bishop to do a second generation of this car as a Tiburon competitor once the Tib got the 2.7 V6 that everyone was supercharging to within an inch of its life? With a proper stick this could have been an interesting mini grand tourer. Although given Daewoo’s quality around that time, how far the tour got before the car breaking would have been anyone’s guess.

Gerontius Garland
Gerontius Garland
12 days ago

The 2003 Corvette Moray concept had gullwing windows. . . also by Italdesign. Seems to be a thing with them.

https://www.corvetteforum.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Chevrolet-Corvette-Moray.jpg

Last edited 12 days ago by Gerontius Garland
Brau Beaton
Brau Beaton
12 days ago

Interesting article. Enjoyed this!

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
12 days ago

For some reason I really like that scallop in the side.

Kasey
Kasey
12 days ago

Didn’t Italdesign pen most of the Daewoo lineup? Personally I really like how the Magnus looks and semi regularly look for Suzuki Veronas for sale.

Marc Fuhrman
Marc Fuhrman
12 days ago

Welcome Rivers! It’s nice to once again see someone making content for the Autopian on the weekends again.
As far as the Bucrane, I really like the front end design of it.It’s subtle yet stylish. Though the slightly bulbous, hatchback like rear doesn’t seem to match well with it.

Gee See
Gee See
12 days ago

There is a Chinese EV brand called HiPhi that have these doors in their cars. For sale in Europe

eg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2AZtC1GB0Q

You can have it in suicide or normal opening, depending on model (They have X, Y and Z).

If it is for sale in Europe, it must have passed NCAP, so might not be a death trap as one might make out for it to be.

Last edited 12 days ago by Gee See
Jon Benet
Jon Benet
12 days ago

What an awesome death trap. Thank God, Giorgetto Giugiaro is God, cause praying is the only way you ‘re ever getting out that when it’s on it’s roof and on fire. Who know? Maybe the poor Daewoo engineer is still trapped inside and that’s the reason behind the mystery of it’s inner workings.

TheHairyNug
TheHairyNug
13 days ago

Perhaps this is the only case in history of gull-wing windows

The BMW Nazca, which is called out in this article, had gull wing windows…

Not The Ford 289
Not The Ford 289
13 days ago

The front end looks like a 2000~ish Camaro with fangs…

DoctorBob
DoctorBob
13 days ago

Italdesign loves recycling their work. The Jaaaaag Kensington concept is need up as the first generation Lexus GS.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
12 days ago
Reply to  DoctorBob

Kensington looks more like the Daewoo Leganza—also Giugiaro. It wasn’t just Giugiaro recycling though, Pininfarina is perhaps one of the worst for that. I mean, just look at the Lancia Flaminia vs Mk II Austin Cambridge vs Peugeot 404.

AlterId
AlterId
13 days ago

It’s pure supposition but it would’ve likely been possible to drive the car with the gull-wing windows in their fully extended position.

We could have had our flying cars, damn it!

InvivnI
InvivnI
13 days ago

Funny you mention the “that’s who” slogan, Daihatsu actually used it down here in Aus in the 90s and possibly early 00s before they eventually left the market. A YouTube search of “Daihatsu, that’s who” will bring up plenty of ads from that era

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
12 days ago
Reply to  InvivnI

As far back as the early ’80s, apparently. If anyone wants an earworm:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frfM9lXOBRk

Edit: Hey, nice Volvo 144 in the background!

Last edited 12 days ago by FuzzyPlushroom
Harvey Park
Harvey Park
12 days ago
Reply to  InvivnI

You can decline it almost ad infinitum! E.g. “General Motors, that’s worse.”

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
13 days ago

So like fancy T-Tops.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
13 days ago

Thanks for this. Good stuff.
Often wonder what great cars were never produced due to financial issues, or other factors.
Maybe that’s why the evolution of the automobile is so interesting to learn about.

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