Recently, a special exhibition highlighting the heritage of Hyundai Motor Company was held in Korea - ‘‘PONY, the timeless’’, which started on June 9 at Hyundai Motorstudio Seoul. Re-examining a brand’s heritage is not simply looking back at the records of the past. By doing so, it becomes a process of retracing the direction to go and finding challenges, innovations, and sources of inspiration for a better future.
Now that the automotive industry is moving toward the era of future mobility centered on electrification and autonomous driving, SDV (Software Defined Vehicle), robotics technology and AAM (Advanced Air Mobility), the first It is a very important task to keep a record of the main character, Pony. This is because Pony is not only the first model made in Korea, but also contains all of Hyundai Motor’s founding spirit and design philosophy to achieve freedom of movement with this model. Pony is a link between the past and the future, and at the same time, it is also a milestone that indicates the direction Hyundai Motor Company should go.
Another reason why the exhibition ‘‘PONY, the timeless’’ is even more special is that there has been no place to intensively shed light on the value and meaning of Pony. But this exhibition is sure to fulfill all of these; The exhibition showcases not only various records and materials owned by Hyundai Motor Company, but also rich historical materials and actual vehicles from the 1970s and 1980s, when Pony was released. The exhibition took us back in time to the memories that enriched life in Korea from the moment Pony was born, which started the ‘My Car Era’ in Korea.
Hyundai Motorstudio Seoul literally makes you feel ‘the timeless PONY’. The full-fledged exhibition program begins on the 5th floor. The 5th floor is a space where the wave of industrialization and modernization in the 1970s was born, and the phases of Korea’s rapid growth in the 1980s were reproduced intact. Exhibits of contemporary culture, such as TV, radio, movies, music, and magazines, welcome visitors everywhere. Light music newly created by electronic musician KIRARA, inspired by the performance of group sounds in the 80s, surrounds the 5th floor and flows through multi-channels. Even the Pony 2 CX (Canadian name) standing in the middle of the exhibition hall on the 5th floor is in harmony with the atmosphere of the 80s.
Pony, which first appeared in 1974, was the main character that changed the daily life and lifestyle of Korea at the time. Before the advent of the Pony, few households had a car, an expensive consumer product. However, with the rapid economic growth, expansion of the cultural base, and the launch of the Pony, more people enjoyed freedom of movement and expanded leisure life as the ‘My Car era’ opened. Of the 24,618 domestic passenger car sales counted in 1976, Pony accounted for about 44% of the market, providing new possibilities to the lives of many people, and Korean roads were filled with colorful Pony. Like this, the Pony was the first car of someone or a family, and it led the growth of the Korean automobile industry and culture.
The exhibition on the 4th floor is about the background and process of Pony’s development. It is a space to find out everything about Pony. Here is the Pony lineup, which has enriched the lives of many drivers with various models such as hatchbacks, wagons, and pickup trucks. Pony is the only model in the history of Hyundai Motor Company so far in which one model has formed such a diverse lineup.
On one wall, various records about the process of Pony’s development, mass production, and export are displayed. Pony was a global project that led to mass production by combining Italian design, Japanese powertrain and chassis technology, and British production technology with the tenacity and conviction of Koreans. These are important records that show how they overcame the arduous process of developing Korea’s first unique model with a bold spirit of challenge and innovation.
In the exhibition, there are various materials such as handwritten notes on the process of establishing Hyundai Motor Company’s Ulsan plant, materials containing the concerns and efforts of the employees who participated in the development, drawings of the Pony logo and lettering, advertisements for name contests, and advertisement posters; And each record is deeply permeated with the traces of the time. A diorama of the process of assembling the Pony prototype is also an eye-catching element. Pony, which was born through this process, achieved 90% localization of parts, and Pony 2 raised it to 98%, laying the foundation for the growth of the domestic automobile industry.
The third floor tells how Hyundai’s design heritage, which began with Pony, continues to the present. At its center is the Pony Coupe concept, which was showcased along with the Pony at the 1974 Turin Motor Show in Italy. In commemoration of the first public release of the Pony Coupe concept to the world, Hyundai Motor Company held a ‘Hyundai Reunion’ event in Italy last month and unveiled a restoration model of the Pony Coupe concept. It is a monumental model that once again collaborated with car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, who participated in the development of Pony more than 50 years ago, and restored the model.
The Pony Coupe concept, which first appeared in Korea through this exhibition, is characterized by a sharp wedge-shaped body, geometric lines forming a concise surface, and a sharply angled design. The design language of the Pony Coupe concept was followed by the ‘N Vision 74’, a high-performance hydrogen-electric hybrid rolling lab (The ‘rolling labs’ tests and verifies the company’s advanced technologies to apply them to future production models.) unveiled last year and received worldwide attention.
In addition to the Pony Coupe Concept and N Vision 74, Hyundai Motor Company’s first dedicated electric vehicle IONIQ 5 inspired by Pony was exhibited together, playing an important role in connecting heritage. The design heritage exhibition on the 3rd floor connecting the past and the future can be said to be the highlight of this exhibition, which shows that ‘PONY, the timeless’ is still on-going.
Around the Pony Coupe concept are materials that allow the visitors to imagine how it looked at the time of the development. There are numerous valuable materials such as drawings, renderings, and photographic materials that show the early design process of the Pony Coupe concept. The Pony Coupe was actually a model that was being prepared for mass production, but the project was suspended after the global economic downturn caused by the oil shock that hit the world in the late 1970s, and after that, all design drawings and vehicles were lost due to flooding. However, during this Pony Coupe restoration project, the automaker succeeded in restoring both the drawings and the vehicle. In the ‘PONY, the timeless’ exhibition, visitors can see for themselves from actual drawings to 1:1 scale drawings of the Pony Coupe.
The large display on the second floor shows a photo exhibition of memories with Pony in our daily life. In the faded photo, there is a family picture taken with Pony in various backgrounds. Back then, it was fashionable to sit around a car and take family photos. Each photo reveals the uniqueness of a car that changed people’s daily lives.
The background to making people’s lives more comfortable is the humanistic spirit of former chairman Chung Ju-young, the founder of Hyundai Motor Group, who contributed to leading national growth and enriching people’s lives. The belief and philosophy of ‘Progress to Humanity’ has led to Hyundai Motor Company’s brand vision so far, and records about it are housed on the second floor.
On the first floor, there are various heritage products related to Pony, such as diecasts of Pony and Pony Coupe, air fresheners, posters, postcards, and accessories. In addition, the ‘RETRACE Series’ was published in celebration of the ‘PONY, the timeless’ exhibition. This publication contains the journey of Hyundai Motor Company, which has grown into a global company over the past half century, the story of Pony, and the values of the times, such as the situation at the time. Hyundai Motorstudio Seoul retraces the lives and memories of Koreans who have changed through Pony, and allows them to experience values that penetrate the times. The exhibition ‘PONY, the timeless’ will be held at Hyundai Motorstudio Seoul for about 4 months from June 9th to October 8th.
Photography by Jo Hyuk-soo
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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