The humble beginnings of South Korea's automotive industry are showcased here.
Three brothers, in 1955, decided to build automobiles, founding Gukje Motors. They used the plentiful leftover American Jeep chassis from the war, equipped them with 2.2-liter imitation American engines and rebuilt 3-speed American transmissions, and added a hand-built body. The result was the Shibal (beginning). Initial sales were slow, but after receiving an industrial award from President Syngman Rhee, sales took off. Sales remained strong until 1962, when the Saenara (a licensed copy of Datsun Bluebird) went into production; Gukje Motors folded in 1964 without ever building a successor model.
Thirsty and expensive, but rugged and well-suited to the primitive South Korean roads of the day, the Shibal often served as a taxicab. So much so, that most people who do remember the Shibal usually refer to it as the Shibal Taxi.
Although over 3,000 were built, no Shibal are in existence today. This is a replica, representing the first Shibal built, built by Samsung Transportation Museum based on original engineering blueprints and authentic hand-crafting techniques.