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Thread: Saehan/Daewoo Maepsy 1977-1989

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    Feb 2005

    Saehan/Daewoo Maepsy 1977-1989

    The Daewoo Maepsy (대우 맵시) is a compact car that was manufactured by Daewoo (and its predecessor Saehan) in South Korea from 1977 to 1989. The Maepsy was a badge engineered version of the Opel Kadett C, or to be more precise, of the PF50 Isuzu Gemini. Originally the car was sold as the Saehan Gemini (Saehan Bird in export markets), but in 1982 the car evolved to become the Saehan Maepsy. By 1983 it was called the Daewoo Maepsy after Saehan Motor was bought out by the Daewoo Group, and finally the Daewoo Maepsy-Na (New Maepsy, 맵시나).

    The original Gemini was equipped with a 1.5 L (1,492 cc) imported four-cylinder engine. Power was 73 PS (54 kW) at 5,400 rpm, for a claimed top speed of 160 km/h. This imported engine was rather expensive however, and when the Hyundai Pony was introduced Saehan's market share dropped precipitously. A measure of popularity was retained as the Gemini was the only compact car in South Korea with an available automatic transmission.

    In 1981, in an attempt at consolidating the South Korean transportation industry which had been hard hit by the 1980 recession, the new military dictatorship of Chun Doo-hwan forced Kia to give up production of its Brisa and focus entirely on light trucks. In return, Saehan and Hyundai had to give up this segment of the market, while a planned merger of the two did not come to fruition. Not only did these changes allow Saehan a bigger share of the market, but they were also able to use the domestically built 1.3-liter (Mazda TC) engine that Kia no longer had any use for, which lowered the price of the new Maepsy considerably. The facelifted Saehan Maepsy was introduced in March 1982, with the 1.3-liter engine using LPG and producing 76 PS (56 kW) (SAE) for a top speed of 151 km/h (94 mph). The 1.5 claimed 84 PS (62 kW) (SAE) but somehow had a slightly lower top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph) (140 km/h or 87 mph for the automatic). In 1983, the name was changed to Daewoo Maepsy.

    In 1984, the car received another facelift, with bigger rectangular headlamps, becoming the Maepsy-Na. The rear was also changed, echoing the design of the 1979 Isuzu Gemini. The XO engine was built by Daewoo now, meaning that Kia's 1.3-liter version was retired. Performance was the same as before, although claimed power was now only 60 PS (44 kW) as South Korea had switched to using DIN ratings. Between 1982 and 1989, 400,000 Maepsys and Maepsy-Nas were built.

    A pickup truck version was also offered initially as the Saehan Max and later as the Daewoo Max from 1979 to 1988.

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