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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the hyundai pony from 1986 which delighted all of canada
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]
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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...

  • SCE to AUX Probably couldn't afford it - happens all the time.
  • MaintenanceCosts An ugly-a$s Challenger with poor equipment choices and an ugly Dealership Default color combination, not even a manual to redeem it, still no sale.
  • Cha65689852 To drive a car, you need human intelligence, not artificial intelligence.Unfortunately, these days even human brains are turning into mush thanks to addiction to smartphones and social media.
  • Mike1041 A nasty uncomfortable little car. Test drove in 2019 in a search for a single car that would appease two drivers. The compromise was not much better but at least it had decent rear vision and cargo capacity. The 2019 Honda HRV simply was too unforgiving and we ditched after 4 years. Enter the 23 HRV and we have a comfy size.
  • SCE to AUX I wonder who really cares about this. "Slave labor" is a useful term for the agendas of both right and left."UAW Wants Auto Industry to Stop Using Slave Labor"... but what will the UAW actually do if nothing changes?With unrelenting downward pressure on costs in every industry - coupled with labor shortages - expect to see more of this.Perhaps it's my fault when I choose the $259 cell phone over the $299 model, or the cheaper parts at RockAuto, or the lower-priced jacket at the store.Do I care about an ethical supply chain? Not really, I just want the product to work - and that's how most consumers are. We'd rather not know.Perhaps the 1990s notion of conflict-free, blood-free, ethically-sourced diamonds will find its way into the auto industry. That would be a good thing.