Hyundai’s jump-off point to becoming a global vehicle manufacturer was the Pony Coupe Concept that made its debut at the 1974 Turin Motor Show. The long-lost car is coming back with the help of the original designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, with the highly influential wedge-style concept vehicle being reconstructed for its first public appearance next spring.
“Not only does this project hold historical value, but it also represents a cross-cultural exchange that could pave the way for more collaborations down the road,” says Luc Donckerwolke, Hyundai chief creative officer.
Let’s travel back in time to 1974 when Hyundai Motor Company was in its infancy. At the time, the company had never developed an independent vehicle model and was attempting the bold scheme to design and manufacture Korea’s first mass-produced car. Unfortunately, there were no vehicle design and styling capabilities in Korea, and Hyundai was forced to outsource the concept car design. As such, Hyundai commissioned Giugiaro to design, develop blueprints and build five prototypes, one which was a coupe.
The Pony Coupe Concept’s wedge-style nose and geometric lines foreshadowed his work in designing the 1976 Lotus Esprit and DeLorean DMC-12. Unfortunately, the Pony Coupe’s dream was over in 1981 as global financial uncertainty led Hyundai to shelve the project, but the Pony nameplate ran from 1975 to 1990 and helped establish Hyundai in the automotive industry.
“I designed the Hyundai Pony when I was still a young designer at the start of my career,” says Giugiaro. “I felt very proud that I was in charge of creating a vehicle for a company and country that was about to take on a fiercely competitive global market. Now, I’m deeply honored that Hyundai has asked me to rebuild it for posterity and as a celebration of the brand’s heritage.”
Today the Pony Coupe Concept’s design is still influencing Hyundai, as proven by the “45” concept car in 2019 that led to the 2021 IONIQ 5 electric SUV. The strong foundation of a 1970s concept car continues with Hyundai’s latest endeavor, the N Vision 74 hydrogen-hybrid development vehicle.
“The original Pony and Pony Coupe Concept were one of those rare creations that influenced the designs of not just one but multiple production and concept vehicles, including our award-winning IONIQ 5 and attention-grabbing N Vision 74,” says SangYup Lee, Hyundai executive vice president. “Since the original concept car no longer exists, we’ve commissioned Giorgetto Giugiaro to rebuild it based on our design philosophy, ‘Shaping the future with legacy.’”