The Hyundai Pony (Hangul: 현대 포니), was a small rear-wheel drive automobile produced by the Hyundai Motor Company from 1975 to 1988 (until 1990 in South Korea). The Pony was Korea's first mass-produced car.
When Hyundai wanted to develop their own car, they hired George Turnbull, the former Managing Director of Austin Morris at British Leyland in 1974. He in turn hired five other top British car engineers, Kenneth Barnett body design, engineers John Simpson and Edward Chapman, John Crosthwaite as chassis engineer and Peter Slater as chief development engineer. With Turnbull's experience with the Morris Marina (see Korean connection), engines and transmissions from Mitsubishi, some parts from the Ford Cortina they were already producing, and a hatchback body styled by Italdesign Giugiaro, they developed the Hyundai Pony.
Pony first generation (1975-1982)
The Pony was presented at the Turin Motor Show in October 1974, and the car was introduced in December 1975 as a 4-door sedan to compete with the Saehan Gemini and Kia Brisa. A pickup version was added in May 1976, a station wagon in April 1977, and a 3-door hatchback in March 1980.
Hyundai began exporting the Pony to Colombia, Ecuador and Egypt from 1976 until 1988. Sales in the United Kingdom began in January 1976, making it the first Korean car to be sold there with further exports to Europe from 1978 to Belgium and the Netherlands. Later on, the Pony was exported to Greece.
The 1.2 L (1,238 cc) 4-cylinder engine and the 1.4L (1,439 cc) produced 67 bhp. The 1.4 GLS was tested by the British car magazine Motor and top speed was 92 mph with acceleration 0-60 mph in 15.3 seconds.
Pony second generation (1982-1990)
In January 1982, the Pony II was presented. It was a facelift from the previous model. Quoting a sales brochure: "You'll see New Pony luxury in such things as rectangular halogen headlamps, fitted in a smart new radiator grille. You'll see it in the wrap-around indicators, completely re-styled rear lamp clusters and neatly designed instrument panel with easy-to-read gauges. These new refinements are just part of many distinctive features of the New Pony." The Pony II was only available in 5-door hatchback, and 2-door pickup versions.
With the Pony II, export also began to the United Kingdom in 1982. The Pony was also exported to Canada from 1983, but not to the United States because the Pony didn't pass emissions standards there. Canadian sales greatly exceeded expectations, and it was at one point the top-selling car in that market, as they were among the most inexpensive cars sold there. The Pony II were notorious for poor quality, although it afforded a much higher degree of quality and refinement in the lowest price auto segment than the Eastern-bloc imports of the period then available, which helped Hyundai to get a foothold in that market.
For 1984, the Pony came only with a 1439 cc (88ci) 4G33 engine I4, rated at 70hp (52kW) and 82 lb·ft (111 N·m) of torque. This engine was available with either a 4-speed or 5-speed manual or a 3-speed automatic transmission. The 1206 cc (74ci) 4G12 engine was not available in Canada. This engine was retained across the line until 1986, after which only the 1597 cc (97ci) 4G16 engine (74 hp (55 kW), 93 lb·ft (126 N·m) torque) was available. In mid-1985, the door handles were blacked out, chrome was removed from the windshield wipers, and the "HD" badge was removed from the centre of the grille and replaced with the lettering "Hyundai" off to the left side. A 1.6 liter model 4G32 engine became available in 1985, with optional air conditioning. These powerplants had hemispherical crossflow cylinder head, 2 valves per cylinder (chain-driven SOHC), a two-barrel downdraft carburetor (manual choke) and breaker point-type ignition.
From 1984 to 1986, trim levels were L (standard), GL (deluxe), and GLS (glorious). L featured vinyl seats, a fold-down rear bench seat, and usually a 4-speed manual transmission mated to a 1.4 L I4 engine. GL included vinyl/cloth seats, a standard clock (which was mounted in the instrument cluster) rear wiper, passenger-side mirror, tinted glass, lockable fuel door, standard door guards, upgraded interior trim, and (from 1985) an available 1.6 L engine. GLS included the above with the option of a tachometer, passenger-side vanity mirror, full cloth seats, 50/50 fold-down seats, and (from 1985) a standard 1.6 L engine.
Only L and CX were trim levels for 1987. L was the same as the previous L, however the clock was now digital and the CX had a standard tachometer. From 1986 to 1987, interior colors available were tan or blue. From 1984 to 1985, it was grey.
Options included rear window louvres, a front air dam, rear spoiler, GT package (which included a leather-wrapped MOMO 3-spoke steering wheel), tachometer, different trim and badging, fog lamps, and extra lights in the rear. All GTs came with the more powerful 1.6 L engine. The Pony Pickup was sold in Europe (only) until the end of the 1980s.
The second generation Pony remained on sale until 1988 (until 1990 in South Korea). In some markets the Pony was replaced by a re-badged Hyundai Excel from 1985, particularly in Europe.
Canadian-spec (Non-ECC LHD)
The Canadian version of the Pony had to be changed slightly to meet standards of that country. The Pony was released for sale in Canada for the 1984 model year and ended in 1987. Differences between the Canadian Pony versus its European counterparts were 8 km/h bumpers, sealed-beam headlights, side marker lamps instead of indicator repeaters (also in a lower position), and slight alterations in interior instrumentation and trim application. Initial projections for 1984 called for 5,000 sales, but the final total was an astounding 25,123, making the Pony one of Canada's best selling cars that year. The Pony was sold until 1987, even while Excels were for sale alongside.
Pony third generation (1985-1990)
In Europe, the front wheel drive Hyundai Excel were sold under the Pony name from 1985 as a replacement of the rear wheel drive version. In other markets, the second generation Pony continued on sale alongside the new Excel.