Rare Rides: The Hyundai Pony From 1986, Which Delighted All of Canada

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
Today’s Rare Ride is a small-medium sized five-door hatchback, and you’d be forgiven if you had no idea what it was upon first glance. It was only available to the fine people of Canada, and only for a short time.It’s the Hyundai Pony, and it’s a beauty.
The rear-drive Pony model debuted in Hyundai’s lineup all the way back in 1975. As the first mass-produced car from South Korea the Pony project was particularly important, and Hyundai wanted to get it just right. So they called British Leyland.
Not joking! Hyundai hired the former director of Austin-Morris, John Turnbull, in 1974. They put him to work on their new car with relative carte blanche. He immediately hired five other British car engineers, including the car’s body engineer. It should be noted here that Turnbull was responsible for the development of the Morris Marina, old Top Gear’s favorite vehicle ever.
The engineering group sent their desires to Italdesign Giugiaro, and somehow Giorgetto Giugiaro approved this first generation five-door hatchback. Hyundai also borrowed innards from the Ford Cortina, and engines from Mitsubishi.
Immediate international success followed, in areas outside of North America. The second-generation Pony debuted in 1982, and became the first Korean car sold in the United Kingdom. By then, the Pony range had expanded into a pickup truck, three- and five-door hatches, a four-door sedan, and a five-door wagon.
Confident in their brand new Pony, Hyundai decided to ship it to Canada for a test run. The nation’s lax emissions laws intrigued Hyundai, as the Pony did not meet the more stringent Malaise-era United States standards.
Before it went on sale in the north, the Pony’s bumpers were swapped, the headlamps became sealed-beam units, and side-marker lamps were added. Hyundai wanted to be cautious with a new market, and estimated 5,000 annual sales for the introductory year of 1984. Canadians had other ideas.
Sales in that first year totaled over 25,000, as Canada proved to have an insatiable appetite for one of the cheapest cars on their market. One of the best selling cars that year, Hyundai continued to market the Pony in Canada until 1987. Interesting when one considers the Pony’s replacement, the Excel, was available starting in 1986.
The Pony continued on in various markets, dwindling until its final year in 1990, where it was sold only in South Korea. That would spell the end of rear-drive for Hyundai for quite some time.
This dishwater-colored Pony is located in Québec, and is asking the princely sum of $14,995 loonies. However, as the pictures indicate, it’s nearly new, and has just over 22,000 kilometers on la horloge. Think that price is too high, or just reasonable enough for a collector? This Pony would seem an example of “If you can find another in this condition, go buy it.”It’s growing on me.Addendum: Our own Matthew Guy brought a Canadian Pony ad to my attention. Check out the sweet discounts and boom mic!
[Images via seller]
Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Tonyvancity Tonyvancity on Jan 20, 2018

    as a canadian living in Vancouver, i remember these ''korean chevettes'' very well. As in i couldnt stand them. Yes, they were very cheap to buy new. And they were of cheap quality, cheap interior, drove like a cheap pile of crap that it was. I knew a few people who bought them as a 4-5 year old used car and they even joked at what a miserable shitbox it was to own and drive. Honestly , a person could have bought a used 4-6 year old honda civic, toyota corolla, nissan sentra, ETC, and had a more reliable, fun to drive vehicle with a better resale value then a brand new Pony (or any hyundai) back then .

  • CrystalEyes CrystalEyes on Feb 18, 2018

    I was shopping for my first car when the Pony went on sale. I remember a salesman saying something along the lines of "Why buy used when you can get a new car with financing at the same monthly payment?" True enough, but even though I had never financed anything before I knew the difference between a loan and a lease. The same thing happened at a Subaru lot where they also sold Skodas. Drove them both and I'd have to say I would have chosen the Skoda over the Pony. Fortunately I was savvy enough to avoid them both so I bought a used MGB instead. I had friends with Ponies (Ponys?) tell me I was crazy. In fact that's what pretty much everyone said, but I sold the MG fifteen years later for close to what I paid for it, and you couldn't have said the same about a Pony (or Skoda). One family I knew loved their Pony, and bought an Excel as soon as they came out. It was gone within two years and they never bought another Hyundai. I still see the occasional Pony, but I can't remember the last time I saw a first generation Excel. Or Skoda. Or Lada. Or any of the other new cars a used car buyer like myself might have been tempted by. Was the MG a good buy? No comment, but it was a hell of a lot of fun...

  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
  • 1995_SC Can you still get some of the tax credits under the new program?
  • Analoggrotto HyundaiGenesisKia saw this coming a long time ago and are poised for hybrid and plug-in hybrid segment leadership:[list=1][*] The most extensive range of hybrids[/*][*]Highest hybrid sales proportion over any other model [/*][*]Best YouTube reviews [/*][*]Highest number of consumer reports best picks [/*][*]Class leading ATPs among all hybrid vehicles and PHEVs enjoy segment bearing eATPs[/*][/list=1]While some brands like Toyota have invested and wasted untold fortunes into full range electric lineups HyundaiKiaGenesis has taken the right approach here.
  • EBFlex The answer is yes. Anyone that says no is just….. wrong.But the government doesn’t want people to have that much freedom and the politicians aren’t making money off PHEVs or HEVs. So they will be stifled.