In 1974, when Hyundai made its debut at the Turin Motorshow, the company displayed a concept car of the Pony, Korea’s historically significant car. It was planned for eventual production but due to the adverse global economic environment, the project ended there and the car no longer exists.
While the Pomy Coupe Concept was an unfinished dream at the time, its bold spirit helped kickstart the Korean automotive industry by directly influencing Hyundai’s first independent production models under its Pony nameplate which were sold around the world.
Now, the lost concept car will be rebuilt and it will be in collaboration with Italian design firm GFG Style, notably its father and son founders Giorgetto and Fabrizio Giugiaro. It was Giorgetto who created the concept car in 1974 so the project is even more significant.
“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,” said Hyundai Motor Group’s Executive Vice-President, SangYup Lee. “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’.”
“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,” added Hyundai Motor Group’s Chief Creative Officer, Luc Donckerwolke
In 1974, when Hyundai Motor was still in its early days of vehicle production, the company’s executives contacted Giugiaro to propose work on designing Hyundai’s first independent model and Korea’s first mass-produced car. At the time, there was no vehicle design and styling capability in Korea, so the carmaker turned to the well known Italian designer for his expertise.
Giugiaro was to design, make blueprints and build 5 prototypes, one of which was a coupe. In the process of designing and prototyping, Hyundai decided to show the Pony and Pony Coupe at the Turin Motor Show to promote the brand’s debut in the global market.
With its wedge-style nose, circular headlamps and origami-like geometric lines, the Pony Coupe was intended for the North American and European markets. However, that plan stalled in 1981 just before mass production as global economic conditions were bad and Hyundai has to refocus its investments.
Nevertheless, the concept’s design also served as a huge source of inspiration for Giugiaro’s work on a futuristic car that debuted in 1983 – the DeLorean DMC 12 which was used in the ‘Back to the Future’ movies (1985-90).
The Pony and Pony Coupe Concept’s impact have continued to this day. In 2019, Hyundai Motor took inspiration from the original Pony for the ‘45’ concept car, which directly influenced the IONIQ 5 that debuted 2 years later. Also in 2021, Hyundai reinterpreted the original Pony production car as a restomod electric vehicle concept. And, this year, Hyundai designers referred to the coupe concept yet again with the N Vision 74 hydrogen-hybrid ‘rolling lab’ development car.
Of his original design, Giugiaro said: “I designed the Hyundai Pony when I was still a young designer at the start of my career. 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 honoured that Hyundai has asked me to rebuild it for posterity and as a celebration of the brand’s heritage.”