Nobody knew the car brand Hyundai in the 70s. Not even Giorgetto Giugiaro. What many do not know is that the Italian car designer created the origin of the Hyundai brand with the Pony Coupé Concept in 1974 – the rest is history.
The Concorso d’Eleganza on Lake Como has been the most exclusive car event in Europe for years. The former classic event has long since become an automotive event that car fans should not miss. The event north of Milan is slowly becoming serious competition for Monterey Autoweek, culminating in the Pebble Beach Concours on the California coast in mid-August. For the first time this year, it starts on Lake Como one day before and the start of the Concorso weekend does not start on Friday evening at the spectacular Villa d’Este, but on the other side of the lake at the Villa Pliniana, which is well worth seeing. It was here that Giorgetto Giugaro, together with Hyundai CEO Euisun Chung, unveiled the reissue of the 1974 Hyundai Pony Coupé Concept – an unusual icon of its time; the actual history of Hyundai as a global brand began with her. Created 50 years ago by the old master Giorgetto Giugiaro personally with the active support of his son Fabrizo, who jointly run the GFG Style design office.
Half a century ago, the Hyundai Pony Coupé as a concept study should pave the way for the Korean car manufacturer at the important Turin Motor Show in 1974 and thus into the heart of the European car world. “I designed the Hyundai Pony when I was a young designer at the beginning of my career. I was very proud to have been able to design a vehicle for a company and a country that was about to assert itself in a highly competitive global market,” recalled 84-year-old Giorgetto Giugiaro, visibly moved. “Now I feel deeply honored that Hyundai asked me to redesign the pony for posterity and as a tribute to the brand’s heritage.”
Initially, Giugiaro was only supposed to create one car due to a lack of capacity and expertise in Korea, but during the design and manufacture of the prototypes, Hyundai decided to show the pony and the pony coupe at the Torino Motor Show in order to be noticed in Europe . With its wedge-shaped front, round headlights and geometric lines, the 4.08-meter Pony Coupé was intended for the North American and European markets alike. The design language was an unmistakable expression of a spectacular era. Giugiaro Giugiaro, then just in his early 30s, drew not only the Pony Coupé but also automotive legends such as the VW Golf I, Passat, Audi 80 and Lotus Esprit. As sleek as it looked, the Pony Cpupé Concept was not a sports car. Its 1.3 liter engine had just 82 hp.
Luc Donckerwolke, President and Chief Creative Officer of Hyundai Motor Group and one of the driving forces behind the project, sees a special meaning in this: “The restoration of this unique vehicle is a milestone in the history of Hyundai. It represents our beginnings and our commitment to the future. It serves as a legacy for future generations.” For the most exclusive car event in Europe, the Hyundai Coupé Concept has now been rebuilt by GFG Style and is not only at the start on Thursday, but also at the Concorso d’Eleganza at the Villa d’Este at the weekend to be admired alongside the other spectacular classics. The geometric lines, the wedge front with round headlights and dynamic proportions are a show alongside the shaped B-pillar, especially from today’s perspective.
“Despite the poor industrial environment of the 1970s, my grandfather and Hyundai founding chairman Ju-young Chung put his heart and soul into rebuilding the Korean economy and improving people’s lives after the devastating Korean War. He finally realized his vision of making Korea a country capable of developing its own vehicles with perfection,” said Euisun Chung, Executive Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group. Due to the unfavorable economic situation, the project was canceled in 1981 before the Mass production stopped and fell into oblivion – until Luc Donckerwolke came in as the new chief designer and went back to the beginnings of the brand.In 2019 Hyundai was inspired by the original pony for the concept vehicle 45, which finally culminated in the production vehicle of the Ioniq 5. In 2021 Hyundai interpreted the original Pony redesigned the production vehicle as a restomod electric vehicle concept and took up the coupé concept again with the N Vision 74 with hydrogen hybrid drive.
Giorgetto Giugiaro: “Hyundai approached us at the time to completely redesign a model without having much experience. I was skeptical at first because I didn’t know Hyundai Motor back then. We were all impressed by the passion and dedication of the Hyundai engineers. They were perceptive, curious, open and extremely eager to learn. They immediately got involved with the working methods that were new to them. I am proud and honored to see how this company has evolved since we first met.”
I’m a recent graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. I started working as a news reporter for 24 Hours World about two years ago, and I’ve been writing articles ever since. My main focus is automotive news, but I’ve also written about politics, lifestyle, and entertainment.