Concept products do play a very important role in the automotive industry or for that matter any technology related industry. Besides giving a glimpse of the future direction of a company, these concepts also highlight the shape the industry will take in the future.
In many cases though, concepts are far ahead of time, and are only showcased to grab attention.
The history of concept cars can be traced back to 1938, when American carmaker Buick showcased the Y-Job, which served as a vision of how automobiles would evolve over the next decade or two. The Y-Job featured innovative designs and technologies such as stripes across the front and rear fenders, electric windows and convertible top, and hidden electric headlights.
It had a technical significance because it was the first to introduce a type of tyre that resembles today's tyres. Previously, most cars had thin tyres on narrow rims with large diameters, similar to wagon wheels, but the Y-Job had thick tyres with high sidewalls and wide treads on 13-inch wheels, which were very small for the time.
Since then, the industry has seen a number of remarkable concept cars, including the 1994 Volkswagen Concept One, which showed the world the face of the modern iconic Beetle or even the 2003 Cadillac Sixteen that offered a sneak peak of Cadillac’s future design vision.
1974 Hyundai Pony Concept
One concept that has now been brought back to the limelight is Hyundai’s 1974 Pony Concept. The first concept car from the stable of Hyundai Motor Company was first showcased at Italy’s premier motor show held in Turin. This experimental vehicle featured wedge-style nose and circular headlamp, a design language that caught the eye of a lot designers at the time.
Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Pony Concept was an ambitious project and arguably led Hyundai to the global stage. The car had a huge impact on the industry. Not only it became a launch pad for one of the biggest car manufacturers but also became an inspiration to a lot of future models, including the iconic DeLorean – also designed by Giugiaro.
It also played an important role in Hyundai’s design language for years to come. When the Korean automotive company entered the new EV era, it displayed a number of products that were reminiscent of the original 1974 Pony Coupe Concept.
The most notable of them was the 45 concept, which gave birth to the Ioniq 5. The 45 concept featured wide flared wheel arches, with the rear reaching up to a sleek rear spoiler, U-shaped LED tail lights at both ends of a continuous LED strip giving the new concept the DNA of the original concept while adding modernised touches.
Rebuilding A Legend
This year, Hyundai announced it will work with Italian design firm GFG Style, notably its founders – the father and son duo of Giorgetto and Fabrizio Giugiaro. Notably, the rebuilt concept will be shown in the springtime, said a Hyundai Motor Company release.
The company announced the plan during a Design Talk in Seoul, featuring Giorgetto and Fabrizio Giugiaro along with Luc Donckerwolke, Chief Creative Officer, Hyundai Motor Group, and SangYup Lee, Executive Vice President and Head, Hyundai Motor’s Global Design Center.
Notably, the concept was an unfinished dream at the time, but its bold spirit helped kick-start the Korean automotive industry by directly influencing Hyundai’s first independent production models under its Pony nameplate, which ran from 1975 to 1990 and were sold around the world.
The company believes the Pony Coupe Concept remains a key part of Hyundai’s legacy and hallmark of its Founding Chairman Ju-Yong Chung’s vision for the company.
Donckerwolke said, “We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Giorgetto and Fabrizio to Seoul for this rare occasion and we look forward to collaborating with them and GFG Style on this extraordinary design project.”
Meanwhile, Lee noted that the original Pony and Pony Coupe Concept were one of those rare creations that influenced the designs of not just one but multiple production and concept vehicles, including Hyundai’s award-winning Ioniq 5 and attention-grabbing N Vision 74.
“I designed the Hyundai Pony, when I was still a young designer at the start of my career. I felt very proud that I was in charge of creating a vehicle for a company and country that was about to take on a fiercely competitive global market,” said Giugiaro.
“Now, I’m deeply honoured that Hyundai has asked me to rebuild it for posterity and as a celebration of the brand’s heritage,” he added.