Hyundai says the N Vision 74 provides a vision into “the future of hydrogen-based high performance” and “elevates the daring attitude of the Pony Coupe concept into a future Hyundai design, while reinterpreting the interior as an entertaining space without losing the pure architecture of the Pony Coupe concept”.
But while we collectively drool over what is arguably one of the most stunning concept cars to emerge from any brand in recent memory, it’s timely to look at the intriguing history of the car that inspired it.
Wind the clock back to 1974 and Hyundai Motor Company had only been in the business of making cars for six years. Its first model, a Ford Cortina built under license, whetted Hyundai’s appetite and by 1974, the fledgling carmaker wanted to produce cars under its own banner.
Hyundai enlisted the help of George Turnbull, the one-time boss of British Leyland. Turnbull promptly hired a team of British engineers and designers and with the help of Italian design guru Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Hyundai Pony was born.
But, while the first production Pony looked like a million other hatchbacks on 1975’s roads, it is Giugiaro’s original concept, unveiled to the public at the 1974 Turin Motor Show that is the subject of this story.
Far from the boxy and non-descript five-door hatchback the production Pony became, Giugiaro’s original concept for the Pony coupe provided a glimpse into what a Hyundai sportscar might have looked like in the mid-1970s.
With its wedge-shaped styling and geometric lines, the Pony Coupe concept followed Giugiaro’s trademark ‘folded paper’ design language. Under its long angular bonnet, a 1.2-litre 61kW four-cylinder engine powering the rear wheels.
“I designed the Hyundai Pony when I was still a young designer at the start of my career,” reflected Giugiaro. “I was tasked with creating a technically valid concept car targeting the middle class. I felt very proud that I was in charge of creating a production vehicle for a country that was about to face a fiercely competitive market.”
While the production Pony proved a runaway success, both in its native South Korea and in overseas markets, it never captured the same spirit as Giugiaro’s swooping coupe concept.
Instead, Giugiaro found another customer for his wedge-shaped design, the American carmaker John DeLorean tasking the legendary Italian with penning his vision for an American sportscar.
Never one to waste a good design, Giugiaro took his recent Hyundai concept which, in his own words provided, “the greatest source of inspiration for a production car designed to leave its mark: the legendary DeLorean DMC-12”.
While the Hyundai Pony Coupe might not have the low-slung stance of its American DeLorean cousin, the Korean car’s geometric lines and overall shape, as well as grille and headlight treatment are easily recognisable on the DMC-12, no bad thing, the DeLorean an icon of 20th century car design.
Today, Hyundai’s N Vision 74 reimagining of that original 1974 concept is a fitting tribute to the brand’s first-ever concept, one that inspired not only the DeLorean, but shaped a generation of sporty hatchbacks and coupes for decades.
Rob Margeit has been an automotive journalist for over 20 years, covering both motorsport and the car industry. Rob joined CarAdvice in 2016 after a long career at Australian Consolidated Press. Rob covers automotive news and car reviews while also writing in-depth feature articles on historically significant cars and auto manufacturers. He also loves discovering obscure models and researching their genesis and history.