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Friday, May 24, 2024

Hyundai Motor brings back Pony Coupe

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From left, Hyundai Motor Group’s Executive Vice President Kim Yong-wha, German car designer Peter Schreyer, Hyundai Motor’s former CEO Lee Chung-gu, Hyundai Motor’s Chief Operating Officer Jose Munoz, Hyundai Motor’s CEO Chang Jae-hoon, former engineer Giorgio Balteri, Hyundai Motor’s Executive Chair Euisun Chung, Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, Hyundai motor’s Executive Vice President Lee Sang-yup, Hyundai Motor’s Chief Creative Officer Luc Donckerwolke and Fabrizio Giugiaro pose for a photo behind the restored Pony Coupe at Lake Como, Italy, on Thursday. [HYUNDAI MOTOR]
From left, Hyundai Motor Group’s Executive Vice President Kim Yong-wha, German car designer Peter Schreyer, Hyundai Motor’s former CEO Lee Chung-gu, Hyundai Motor’s Chief Operating Officer Jose Munoz, Hyundai Motor’s CEO Chang Jae-hoon, former engineer Giorgio Balteri, Hyundai Motor’s Executive Chair Euisun Chung, Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, Hyundai motor’s Executive Vice President Lee Sang-yup, Hyundai Motor’s Chief Creative Officer Luc Donckerwolke and Fabrizio Giugiaro pose for a photo behind the restored Pony Coupe at Lake Como, Italy, on Thursday. [HYUNDAI MOTOR]

Hyundai Motor is bringing back to life its experimental Pony Coupe by recreating the old model that the carmaker says embodies the ethos of Hyundai’s founder Chung Ju-yung.

The restored Pony Coupe had a world premiere in Lake Como, Italy, on Thursday, nearly five decades after it was first introduced.

The famous Pony sedan had a glittering debut at the 1974 Turin Motor Show as Korea’s first domestically-developed rear-wheel drive vehicle which put Korean car-making on the map.

The late founder Chung Ju-yung had big plans for the coupe when its prototype came out. All was smooth sailing to mass-produce the model and export Hyundai Motor’s very first sports car to the U.S. and Europe.

Right before the start of production, however, the founder’s ambitious dream dissolved into thin air in 1981 as the global economy reeled from the 1979 oil crisis.

With its wedge-style nose, circular headlamps and origami-like geometric lines, Giorgetto Glugiaro, the legendary Italian car designer who helped to create the model in 1974, and his son Fabrizio Giugiaro, also participated in the restoration to bring back the Pony sedan in perfect condition.

The revival project, which began last November, was pulled through with an initiative to preserve the late founder’s legacy to make Pony Coupe a global brand.
 
However, the carmaker does not have any plans to mass-produce the original Pony Coupe — but the carmaker did still leave the possibility to produce them in small quantities using smart factories, according to Hyundai Motor’s spokesperson.

Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, left, and Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung pose for a photo inside the restored Pony Coupe at Lake Como, Italy, on Thursday. [HYUNDAI MOTOR]
Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, left, and Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung pose for a photo inside the restored Pony Coupe at Lake Como, Italy, on Thursday. [HYUNDAI MOTOR]

“Despite the poor industrial environment in the 1970s, my grandfather and Hyundai Motor’s late founder Chung Ju-yung poured his heart and soul into rebuilding Korea’s economy and improving the lives of its people after the devastating Korean War [1950-53],” said Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung at the inaugural ceremony of the Pony Coupe Concept in Italy. “He finally realized his vision of making Korea a country capable of developing its own perfected vehicles. I express my sincere gratitude to everyone from both Italy and Korea who played a critical role in the Pony’s success.”

Starting with Pony, Giugiaro designed various Hyundai models in the automaker’s early days, including the Excel, Accent, Stellar and Sonata.

“The restoration of this unique vehicle is a milestone in Hyundai’s history,” said Hyundai Motor President Luc Donckerwolke. “It represents our beginnings and our commitment to the future. It serves as a legacy for generations to come. It virtually symbolizes the mobile relay baton we are passing from the past to the future of the company.”

Although the model was never mass-produced, the Pony Coupe Concept’s design directly influenced the design of N Vision 74 concept car, its first hydrogen-powered sports car unveiled last July.

The Pony Coupe also served as a source of inspiration for Giugiaro’s work on the DeLorean DMC 12 that debuted in 1983 and was used in the “Back to the Future” films (1985-90).

BY LEE JAE-LIM [lee.jaelim@joongang.co.kr]

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