WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN | Hyundai Pony

Image credits: ItalDesign, oldcar-korea.tistory.com, carstyling.ru

ItalDesign is famous for the folded-paper aesthetic they pioneered in the 1970s (at least in the car design world, they are).  One interesting aspect of this aesthetic is that it was never really brand specific.  It didn’t matter whether the client was BMW, Audi, Maserati, Lotus, DeLorean or VW.  Each of them was viewed through the prism of taut, crisp lines and minimalist detail — even a fledgling brand called Hyundai.

When this 1974 Pony concept was commissioned, the Hyundai Motor Company was only seven years old — which means it had virtually no automotive heritage to speak of.  It’s doubtful this design was intended to be anything other than a concept, since the production Pony looks nothing like it.  It’s far more likely that Hyundai wanted to generate media buzz prior to the Pony’s introduction.  And who better to do that than ItalDesign, a firm that had worked show vehicle magic for so many other marques.  And as much as this concept looks like ItalDesign’s other work, parts of it do not.

Consider the proportions, for example.  Much of the visual weight is right at the beltline, which gives the car a decidedly jaunty feel.  It reminds me of Datsun B210s from the same era. The amount of air under the rocker, coupled with the exaggerated approach/departure angles, suggests a smart urban coupe rather than a sports car.

A unique approach was also taken with the exterior functionality.  This flip-up rear gate is an interesting take on how best to access a fastback’s load floor.  It’s really too bad this concept didn’t have more influence on the actual Hyundai Pony.  But it does provide an interesting glimpse at what might have been.

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