Forget the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6. For now, Hyundai, together with Giorgetto Giugiaro himself, will create the concept that led to the Pony model in 1975.
Hyundai’s founder Chung Ju-Yung took his first unsteady steps into the automotive world when he worked as a mechanic in 1939. His ambitions grew quite quickly, and soon he owned a workshop and was in charge of 70 employees.
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Back then, Korea was under Japanese rule, which they had been since 1910, but then Pearl Harbor happened. Japan attacked the US military base in 1941, thereby dragging themselves and the US into World War II.
It went badly, as you know, because the Americans dropped two atomic bombs on Japan and forced them to surrender in the summer of 1945. The Russians occupied the northern half of Korea, and the Americans the southern. Thus, North and South Korea arose.
With a liberated Korea, Ju-Yung saw opportunities. He founded Hyundai Civil Industries which was to help build up the country in 1947, and among other things secured a contract to build a motorway. So yes, Hyundai didn’t start out building cars, but actually roads!
The Hyundai group was constantly expanded, and in 1967 the Hyundai Motor Company saw the light of day. But it would take a further eight before they built their very first self-produced car.
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The first car from the company was a Ford Cortina and arrived in 1968, but then there were the ambitions of Ju-Yung. He wanted to build his own cars, and in 1974 brought in George Turnbull, a Briton who had been in charge of Austin Morris. The new boss quickly brought in several other experts, and contacted the legendary Italdesign.
This company was, among other things, founded by Giorgetto Giugiaro, and in record time had become one of the most important car designers in the world. Two of the first cars they were behind were the BMW M1 and the Lotus Esprit, so talk about a flying start.
Turnbull tapped Giugiaro, and it resulted in a concept called the Pony Coupé which laid the foundation for the Pony model that came in 1975 – Hyundai’s very first self-produced car. That car was such a great success that it was produced until 1990, thus laying the foundation for today’s Hyundai. It was also the first mass-produced car from Korea.
Pony also laid the foundations for another particularly important car, for the Ioniq 5, named among other things as car of the year in the world and design of the year, is inspired by Giugiaro’s concept from 1974. The Ioniq 5 is also the starting point for a brand new electric car venture from Hyundai which will lead to an Ioniq series of electric cars, and the Ioniq 6 will be the second electric car in this venture.
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And now history repeats itself.
Indeed, Hyundai has announced that it will collaborate with Italian design firm GFG Style, founded by father and son Giorgetto and Fabrizio Giugiaro, to build the influential Pony Coupé concept that debuted at the 1974 Turin Motor Show.
Hyundai released the news during an event in Seoul, and in attendance were Giorgetto and Fabrizio Giugiaro, Hyundai’s creative chief Luc Donckerwolke and SangYup Lee, head of Hyundai Motor’s Global Design Center.
– We are beyond excited to welcome Giorgetto and Fabrizio to Seoul for this rare occasion, and we look forward to working with them and GFG Style on this extraordinary design project, says Donckerwolke.
‒ Not only does this project have historical value, but it also represents a cross-cultural exchange that can pave the way for more collaborations down the road.
Hmmm, so maybe there will be more projects under the direction of Hyundai and Giugiaro? But first they have to make the original Pony.
‒ The original Pony and Pony Coupé Concept was one of those rare creations that influenced the designs of not just one, but several production and concept cars, including our award-winning Ioniq 5 and the attention-seeking N Vision 74, says SangYup Lee.
‒ Since the original concept car no longer exists, we commissioned Giorgetto Giugiaro to rebuild it based on our design philosophy, “Shaping the future with legacy”.
Okay, here comes something pretty sensational that anyone who drives an Ioniq 5 can brag about.
The Pony Coupé was quite a sensational concept, easily recognized by its wedge-shaped front, and Giugiaro also gave it circular headlights and origami-like geometric lines. The intention was that the car’s special design would arouse interest in both the US and Europe.
Unfortunately, the coupe version never went into production, because just before it got the green light in 1981, Hyundai pulled the plug. These were too uncertain economic times to embark on such a project.
But Giugiaro had no plans to let the design float off into the sunset, so when he designed the DeLorean DMC 12 that debuted in 1983, he used the Pony Coupé as a source of inspiration. So yes, the “Back to the Future” car is a sporty version of the Pony Coupé, something all Ioniq 5 owners can, and should, boast about.
Because when Hyundai showed off the concept of what has become the Ioniq 5, a car only called “45” when it was shown in 2019, yes, 45 years after the Pony Coupé was shown, it was directly inspired by the old concept.
The end result came in 2021, and at the same time they also presented a new interpretation of the original Pony car with an electric drive.
Earlier this year, they also showed off an N Vision 74 powered by hydrogen, and this car is called a “rolling lab”. And in the spring, the original concept appears again.
– I designed the Hyundai Pony when I was still a young designer at the start of my career, says Giugiaro.
‒ I felt very proud that I was responsible for creating a car for a company and a country that was about to enter a fiercely competitive global market. Now I am deeply honored that Hyundai has asked me to rebuild it for posterity and as a celebration of the brand’s heritage.