2022.12.21 Hyundai Motor Company

Timeless Design: Hyundai to Rebuild Pony Coupe

Hyundai Motor Company
Hyundai Motor Company restores the Pony Coupe concept, which was the brand’s first concept car. The automaker is looking back on its past to find the driving force to move forward. Giorgetto Giugiaro, the father of Hyundai Motor Company design, is with them on this journey.

Hyundai Motor Company prepared a special event to shed light on its brand heritage. The automaker invited Giorgetto Giugiaro, who is considered one of the best car designers of the 20th century and who established the early design of Hyundai Motors in the 1970s and 1980s, to Korea and held a design talk show to talk about the past, present and future of Hyundai Motors. 

Hyundai Motor Company invited Giugiaro to Korea to host a design talk show for the media to talk about the past, present, and future of Hyundai Motor Company

This design talk show, which was held under the theme of ‘Shaping the future with legacy’, also had a special meaning. This is because it unveiled an ambitious project that will reinforce brand identity by re‒examining brand heritage and restoring the lost past while presenting new possibilities for the future. The object to be restored is the Pony Coupe Concept, which was the Hyundai Motor Company’s first concept model.

The futuristic design of the Pony Coupe concept developed in 1974 was enough to attract worldwide attention

The Pony Coupe concept was exhibited by the Hyundai Motor Company at the 1974 Turin Motor Show along with the Pony prototype, and drew attention for its futuristic design, such as a sleek wedge shape, circular headlamps, and a body made with geometric lines. Speaking of DeLorean DMC‒12, an American icon from the Back To The Future movie franchise, it became viral when Giugiaro announced that it was designed based on the Pony Coupe concept that he also designed. However, unlike Pony, which succeeded in mass production exported, the Pony Coupe project was suspended and forgotten just before mass production ‒ until the release of the hydrogen‒powered hybrid Rolling Lab N Vision 74 that paid homage to the Pony Coupe concept back in July.

The N Vision 74, unveiled in July of this year, was inspired by the design of the Pony Coupe concept

The N Vision 74 clearly stood out because it showed the true identity of a high‒performance, eco‒friendly hydrogen‒powered vehicle that can be realized by combining Hyundai Motor Group’s hydrogen fuel cell technology with the latest electric vehicle technology. In terms of design, there are plenty of elements to keep an eye on. The design of the N Vision 74, which reinterpreted the Pony Coupe concept, thrilled many by itself. It made people who remembered the Pony Coupe at the time feel nostalgic, and reminded the younger generation, who are enthusiastic about the design of the Newtro, of the charm of a design that combines the future and the past. Unfortunately, it was not possible to preserve the Pony Coupe, but it was certainly surprising that the legacy of the past was successfully implemented in the present.

Hyundai Motor Company plans to revive the legacy of the past through the Pony Coupe Restoration Project

Pony and Pony Coupe are the tradition and history of Hyundai Motor Company’s unique DNA and the essence of its design. In any field, understanding and respecting history is necessary to move toward the future. And this is how the Pony Coupe restoration project began. Attending the design talk show, Hyundai Motor Group CCO Luc Donckerwolke explained the background of the Pony Coupe Restoration Project:

“When I first came to Hyundai, I tried to design for the future after understanding the brand first. However, the Pony Coupe, the icon of Hyundai Motor Company’s design and spirit, was not there any longer, so I thought I should ask Giugiaro for help, the creator of the Pony Coupe. The Pony Coupe will be reborn through the same development method as in the past, and the restoration work will be a genuine and valuable work. Hyundai is standing at an important turning point toward the future; while Pony and Pony Coupe symbolize the past 50 years for Hyundai, the new 50 years start with the IONIQ 5. The Pony Coupe restoration project will be the starting point of an important journey into the future.”

Giugiaro is talking about what happened in 1973 when he started developing the Pony

As is well known, Giugiaro is the father of Hyundai Motor Company design and a living legend. In 1973, at the request of former chairman Chung Ju‒young, he took charge of the development of the Pony and completed a design that immediately received world attention. After that, he led the design of various early models of Hyundai Motors, such as the Pony 2, Excel, Elantra, Stella, and Sonata, for 20 years. It is only natural that Giugiaro, who established the design of Hyundai Motor Company in the early days, will work with the automaker to restore the heritage of Hyundai Motor Company. Giugiaro remembers the time he was in charge of designing the Pony and told stories from that time:

“The founder of Hyundai Motor Company flew to Turin, Italy, and wanted to design a car that could be mass‒produced for Hyundai Motor Company. I was perplexed at first. At that time, Korea did not have an automobile industry. I arrived in Korea at the end of 1973 and visited the Ulsan plant. Watching the large ships being built, I realized the passion and determination of the Hyundai Motor Group. After that, he started designing an easy‒to‒build car with about 50 engineers and built the Pony in 8 months. This was amazing, and it was possible because we not only designed the exterior of the car but also identified the technology and design needed and collaborated with the engineers.”

Giugiaro spoke highly of the pony‒inspired IONIQ 5. “A car should not only show off its design but also have advanced technology. IONIQ 5 represents the transition to a new system. It is a simple form, but looking at the new technologies utilized in it, I paid my respects to the excellent work.”

Giugiaro gives advice to Hyundai designers at the Hyundai Design Center

Giugiaro went on to emphasize ‘close collaboration with engineers’ as one of the skills required for automotive designers. “I sometimes made cars by welding the panels myself. Creative designs come from engineering. Beautiful design and excellent quality are guaranteed when the two elements are fused. Hyundai Motor Company’s design today is a harmonious blend of engineering and design. In terms of combining them, I just took one small step.”

In fact, before the design talk show event, Giugiaro visited the Hyundai Design Center in Namyang Research Center to express his views on Hyundai Motor’s future projects and give Hyundai Motor designers helpful advice. He also revisited the Ulsan factory that produced the Pony 50 years ago and was moved to see the IONIQ 5 being manufactured through an automated process.

(From left) The Pony Coupe Restoration Project, led by Sang‒yup Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai Motor’s Global Design Center, Giugiaro, and Luc Donckerwolke, Chief Creative Officer of Hyundai Motor Group, will mark a new turning point for Hyundai Motor Company

Beyond the time when Hyundai Motor’s initial design was created 50 years ago, Hyundai Motor Company and Giugiaro’s new journey for the future has just begun. It is clear that there will be masterpieces that will be noticed by the world as much as the 1974 Pony Coupe Concept or the 2022 N Vision 74. People want to see the collaborative work of the master of automobile design, the ones who have taken Hyundai Motors’ design to a new level, and the passion of Hyundai designers who constantly present creative and innovative designs. The Pony Coupe restoration project will be unveiled in the spring of 2023.

HMG Journal Operation Team


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