Hyundai to build its 1974 Pony Coupe Concept

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Believed to have been scrapped in the late 1970s, Hyundai will rebuild the iconic Pony Coupe Concept which has found new admiration.

Earlier this year, Hyundai showed the spectacular N Vision 74, a hydrogen fuel cell ‘rolling lab’ inspired by one of its earliest cars – the Pony Coupe concept that was built in 1974.

But it wasn’t possible to directly celebrate the connection with the original car, which was lost and believed to have been scrapped in the late 1970s.

Hyundai’s growing interest in its early history has now seen that loss corrected in spectacular style with the recreation of the original car, in collaboration with its original designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro – the partnership announced today at a ceremony in Korea.

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“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Giorgetto and Fabrizio to Seoul for this rare occasion and we look forward to collaborating with them and GFG Style on this extraordinary design project,” said Luc Donckerwolke, Chief Creative Officer of Hyundai Motor Group.

“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.”

The Pony was the first car that Hyundai produced by itself, having previously assembled Ford Cortinas under licence. Design was contracted to Giugiaro’s ItalDesign during what was one of his most prolific periods and it slots onto the list between the Alfasud and the Mk1 Volkswagen Golf.

But the company was keen to have a more exciting version than the utilitarian hatchback for the 1974 Turin motor show so it ordered Giugiaro to design a coupe version with the same floorpan and mechanical package.

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The result was low, looked athletic and had the wedgy form language that era’s buyers had been trained to associate with modern sports cars.

But the prospect of what would have been a weedy bought-in Mitsubishi engine and leaf-sprung live back axle meant that it didn’t make production, and the show concept disappeared soon after. Giugiaro later recycled many of the ideas from it into what became the Delorean DMC-12.

The new car will be an exact replica of the original Pony Coupe rather than a restomod. It will be built as a one-off for Hyundai’s corporate collection and be delivered next year. But we’re told that the prospect of future collaborations based on some of Giugiaro’s other work for Hyundai is being actively considered. He did the exteriors for all the company’s cars into the 1990s so there is plenty of mutual history.

One other fascinating detail from Giugiaro, now a sprightly 84 years of age, is that VW originally planned to call the Mk1 Golf the Volkswagen Pony but lost out when Hyundai nabbed the moniker by launching first.

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 honored that Hyundai has asked me to rebuild it for posterity and as a celebration of the brand’s heritage.”

Mike Duff

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