Hyundai's history is being celebrated at this year's Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. Nearly 40 years after its debut at the Turin Motor Show, the Pony Coupe Concept, one of the South Korean manufacturer's most iconic prototypes, returns to Italy. Rebuilt by Giorgetto Giugiaro – the "father" of the original concept – the Pony Coupe can be seen live on Saturday, 20 May on the shores of Lake Como at the prestigious motoring event.
The Myth Comes Back To Life
The Pony was Hyundai's first mass-produced car as an independent manufacturer, but it wasn't the wedge-shaped concept featured here. The global economic crisis through the 1970s didn't offer much room for a sleek sports car, so in 1975 the Pony launched as a small four-door liftback. However, the Pony Coupe Concept (which preceded it in 1974) survived in spirit through the years, influencing Hyundai's design language in other areas.
The second-generation Pony (also known as the Excel) offered squared proportions in its compact four-door design. A few years later, the Hyundai Scoupe would adopt the Coupe Concept's overall shape in a sports car design, albeit with rounded edges.
Of course, the influence is seen most clearly in some of Hyundai's more recent models like the Ioniq 5, where straight body lines culminate in a truncated backside. And naturally, there's the N Vision 74, pulling direct inspiration from the Pony Coupe Concept with a retrotastic wedge body that's modernised and infused with a hydrogen fuel cell for power. Sadly, the N Vision 74 – like the original Pony Coupe – remains a one-off concept despite rumours to the contrary.
Whilst attention falls on the straight, simple lines of the exterior, Hyundai also spent plenty of time restoring the concept's simple interior. The sports car presented at Villa d'Este features a minimalist layout with great attention to style. Details like the non-traditional gauges and single-spoke steering wheel characterise models of tomorrow from a distinctly 1970s perspective. And it still carries a futuristic vibe even today.
Thanks to the N Vision 74, the Pony Coupe Concept is back in the minds of the motoring public where it can further fuel the creativity of Hyundai designers in the future. One such individual is SangYup Lee, the recent winner of the 2023 World Car Person of the Year award.
As for future models, we'll no doubt see Pony influence in the Ioniq 5 N, the sportiest version of the electric crossover to be unveiled in July. And while Hyundai has crushed rumours of a production-spec N Vision 74, we remain in anticipation of upcoming models from the South Korean brand.