The public’s love for Pony, the icon of the Korean automobile industry, never seems to cool down. The recent 〈PONY, the timeless〉 exhibition at Hyundai Motorstudio Seoul proved Pony’s popularity once again; From the older generation who remembers the Pony of the past to young children, all visited the exhibition to see the process of Pony’s birth and Korea at the time. Of course, the secret to its popularity was the main dish, Pony. It could shine without intriguing events or show.
‘Korea’s first domestic car’ is enough to describe the Pony, but it was Hyundai’s first independently developed model and kicked off Korea’s ‘my-car’ era; It indeed has a unique presence. For this reason, Hyundai Motor Company planned the 〈PONY, the timeless〉 exhibition following its heritage brand platform ‘Hyundai Reunion’, which selected the Pony coupe as the theme. Pony contains various meanings encompassing the history of Hyundai Motor Company as well as the good memories of Koreans.
Pony’s first release dates back to the 1970s; Hyundai Motor Company wanted to have its own Korean model, and in 1975, Hyundai Motor Company finally introduced the Pony. The automaker, which received technological cooperation from advanced companies in the past, made special efforts to increase the localization rate. And three years after the start of development, Hyundai Motor Company’s first Pony was born.
Pony was designed by Italdesign, a design company specializing in automobiles. The company’s CEO, Giorgetto Giugiaro, an icon of 20th-century automotive design, completed four style sketches, and Hyundai Motor Company finalized the Pony’s final design after a thorough evaluation. The Pony and the Pony Coupe Concept were first unveiled at the 1974 Turin Motor Show in Italy. Completed with a compact and sophisticated design, the Pony drew great attention as it was Korea’s first mass-produce model.
As the demand in the Korean automobile market gradually diversifies, the automaker unveiled various derived models such as the Pony pickup, Pony wagon, and Pony 3-door in addition to the Pony, the basic 4-door fastback model. The basic Pony was a rear-wheel-drive model that offered practicality for the whole family and two gasoline engine options. Pony became very popular as soon as it was released, started the ‘my-car’ era in Korea, and raised the localization rate of parts to 90%, laying the foundation for the development of the Korean automobile industry.
The Pony Pickup, introduced in 1976, maximized economic feasibility by actively reflecting the industrial demand of the time. The basic model was transformed into a small truck by providing a cargo space in the back seat. Pony pickups, which were loved by self-employed people for their outstanding practicality, enjoyed high popularity due to Pony’s unique excellent driving performance and durability.
Released in 1977, the Pony Wagon served as an SUV with excellent space utilization. Thanks to the greatly expanded cargo space while maintaining the passenger compartment space of the existing Pony, it enjoyed great popularity for recreation or leisure purposes. In 1980, as the era of owner-driven cars began, the Pony 3-door was released for the first time. The Pony 3 door was characterized by emphasizing a sleek style with a long front door and a wide open hatch gate. For reference, in 1980, when the Pony 3 door was released, the Pony greatly enhanced driving convenience by adding a 3-speed automatic transmission in line with the owner-driver era.
Pony 2, the successor to Pony, debuted in 1982. As the Pony accounted for more than half of the passenger car sales in Korea, the need for a new model grew, and Hyundai Motor Company introduced the Pony2 with improved design and marketability. Pony2 was exported to Canada and entered the North American market for the first time in Korea. In addition, in 1984, the CX trim equipped with a 5-mile bumper*, a Canadian model specification, was sold in Korea and gained great popularity. Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor Company also introduced Pony2 pickup as a derivative model of Pony2. The Pony2 pickup maintains the reputation of the existing Pony pickup model by improving marketability, such as by applying a B-pillar ventilation hole and a variable load box cover.
A 5-mile bumper* secures rigidity and shock absorption to prevent damage to safety-related parts and functions during a crash test at a speed of 5 miles per hour.
In 1985, Hyundai Motor Company introduced the Pony Excel, which inherited the car name of Pony. The Pony Excel was the result of the ‘X Car Project’ that the automaker aimed to export to the global market. The representative difference of Pony Excel is the driving method. The Pony Excel is the first front-wheel drive model in Korea, improving driving stability and fuel efficiency, and practicality with a 5-door hatchback style. Pony Excel had different car names for each market, but in the European market, the name ‘Pony’ remained to carry on the legacy of Pony.
The model that best expresses Pony’s unique styling is the Pony Coupe Concept, unveiled at the 1974 Turin Motor Show. Not long ago, it was reborn in perfect shape on Hyundai Reunion, Hyundai Motor Company’s heritage brand platform, and once again made Pony trending. The Pony Coupe concept was a coupe model ambitiously planned by Hyundai Motor Company to target global markets such as Europe and the United States. The body, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, emphasizes the character of the dynamic coupe with a sharp wedge shape. Filled with a harmony of circular headlamps, sharp fastbacks, and geometric lines, the Pony Coupe concept caught the world’s attention with its future-oriented design.
This heritage of Pony continues with the ‘EV Concept 45’ released in 2019. The number in the car name signifies the heritage that has continued for 45 years since 1974, when Pony was first introduced, and laid the foundation for the next-generation electrified model with Hyundai Motor Company’s vision for future mobility. Inspired by aircraft designs in the 1970s, the styling of the EV Concept 45 showcased innovative Hyundai design. The EV Concept 45, completed with iconic design elements - a silhouette emphasizing straight lines, kinetic cube lamps using cube modeling, and C-pillar details depicting the air vents of the Pony coupe concept - sets the direction for the next mass-produced electrified model.
In addition, the EV Concept 45 predicted the possibility of a dedicated electric vehicle lineup for the Hyundai Motor brand through E-GMP, the first electrification platform of the Hyundai Motor Group. And finally, the IONIQ 5 made its debut. The IONIQ 5, the first car of the IONIQ brand, Hyundai Motor Company’s line-up dedicated to electric vehicles, drew attention from around the world. It has become a rising star in the global electric vehicle market by consummating the unique style inspired by the past Pony and the new electrification technologies such as 800V high voltage system or V2L.
The inspiration from Pony finally has a big impact on Hyundai Motor Company’s high-performance brand, N: hence the N brand’s first hydrogen hybrid rolling lab, the N Vision 74. The N Vision 74 features the hybrid system that combines an electric motor and a hydrogen fuel cell to deliver high performance. The combination of sustainable and eco-friendly new technologies shows the future potential of the N brand, while inheriting the heritage of the Hyundai Motor brand with a design that reinterprets the Pony coupe concept.
Pony, which was loved by many, is also special in the history of Hyundai Motor Company. Recently, the company recalled Pony once again through ‘Hyundai Reunion’. At the beginning of Hyundai Reunion, which looks back on the automaker’s past and introduces its future direction, the forgotten Pony coupe concept was restored and unveiled once again. To this end, Hyundai Motor Company has carried out a restoration project of the Pony Coupe concept since last November. The automaker worked once again with Giorgetto Giugiaro, who designed the Pony coupe of the past, and succeeded in restoring the Pony coupe concept based on the blueprints and manufacturing methods of the time.
The Hyundai Reunion event was attended by Giugiaro Senior and Junior, who restored the Pony coupe concept, former Hyundai Motor Company President Lee Chung-gu, and several designers and engineers who contributed to the development of the Pony concept. They also shared the story of the development of the Pony coupe at the time and Hyundai’s innovative vision for the future.
The journey with Pony led to 〈PONY, the timeless〉 where visitors can experience the heritage of Hyundai Motor Company. 〈PONY, the timeless〉, held at Hyundai Motor Studio Seoul, introduced various legacy and memories left by Pony in chronological order, such as the development process and history of Pony, Korea’s first independent mass-produced model, and the background of the time back then. 〈PONY, the timeless〉 was visited by about 5,000 people within a week of starting the exhibition. Many visitors, having nostalgia or paying attention to the Newtro culture, proved Pony’s growing popularity.
The Pony was ‘the first car in our family’ that gave freedom of movement to many Koreans, and was a symbol of passion for Hyundai Motor Company, which struggled to develop its own model. Now, most Ponies are standing still in a perfectly restored looks, rather than running on the streets; but as time goes by, the meaning of Pony will deepen. Pony will never disappear; it functions as a source of inspiration, continuously bringing wonderful memories. Many will discover the charm of Pony, still alive and well, at the ‘〈PONY, the timeless〉‘ exhibition.
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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