Automakers typically exude a pragmatic approach, void of sentimentality, especially during their early stages when financial constraints and the constant specter of failure pervade their every endeavor. In the late 1970s, Hyundai found itself entrenched in a startup mindset. Having commenced car production in 1967, within a nation racing to embrace the industrial age, the lack of sufficient funds resulted in the regrettable decision to abandon the production of Giugiaro's charming Hyundai Pony Coupe concept. Consequently, the car was silently tucked away, consigned to obscurity, and forever lost.
Thus, they enlisted the expertise of Giorgetto Giugiaro to craft an entirely fresh iteration of the Pony Coupe Concept. Forged at GFG Style in Italy, presently owned by Giugiaro and his son Fabrizio, the reborn Hyundai Pony Coupe Concept emerges as an almost indistinguishable replica of the original unveiled nearly half a century ago. Exuding the characteristic wedge and edge design of the 1970s, it boasts an ethereal greenhouse upheld by slender pillars and rolls on robust four-spoke wheels with tall sidewall tires, presenting a genuinely captivating aesthetic. Inside, its interior resonates with a faintly reminiscent "2001: A Space Odyssey" ambiance that remains modern and captivating, showcasing meticulously crafted forms and a delightful selection of materials.
The sole discernible deviation from the original Pony Coupe Concept lies in the specification of its 15-inch wheels, one inch larger in diameter than those fitted in 1974. This alteration was necessitated by the unavailability of the correct section 14-inch tires, as revealed by Hyundai's design chief, SangYup Lee. Impressively, the revived Pony Coupe Concept is not a mere static tribute but a fully functional masterpiece.
It rests upon the platform and mechanicals of a 1970s Hyundai Pony four-door hatch, mirroring the production version that would have materialized if not for the 1979 oil crisis and the subsequent recession, which significantly impacted the intended primary export market—the United States—leading Hyundai to shelve its production plans for the car. The fact that Hyundai genuinely contemplated building a production version of the Pony Coupe Concept, intending to spearhead its entry into one of the most fiercely competitive auto markets globally, speaks volumes about the ambition and determination of an automaker that, just a decade earlier, focused on producing Korean-market Cortina sedans for Ford Motor Company.
Though a recreation, the Hyundai Pony Coupe Concept can rightfully be regarded as an authentic artifact, an origin point for the Hyundai brand, as it was built by the same person who crafted the original using the same design and fabrication techniques employed five decades prior. The presence of Giugiaro's DNA in this car remains palpable. However, what does it all signify? Senior Hyundai executives assert that it holds significant meaning. The most tangible manifestation of these sentiments may materialize in the coming years through a limited production series of the N Vision 74 concept, which draws inspiration from the Pony Coupe Concept in terms of form and proportions.
If realized, the production version of the N Vision 74 would showcase Hyundai's expertise in hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain technology. The Hyundai Nexo stands as the only fuel-cell car available on the market, alongside Toyota's Mirai, while Hyundai's construction equipment division is already manufacturing hydrogen fuel-cell-powered excavators.
These vehicles—the X Coupe, X Speedium, and X Convertible—would all be electric, equipped with a nearly 600-horsepower dual-motor, all-wheel drive powertrain powered by the recently unveiled 99.8 kWh battery found in the Kia EV9 SUV, connected by Hyundai's fast-charging 800V electrical architecture.