The original Pony Coupe came about after Giugiaro was visited in Turin in 1973 by Hyundai founding chairman Ju-Yong Chung, who invited him to go to Korea to better understand his plans to become an independent automaker.
"I was unimpressed in seeing an outdated plant building old models from Hillman (the now-shuttered UK automaker), so Chairman Chung took me to Ulsan to see the Hyundai shipyard that was building a 250,000-ton oil carrier,” Giugiaro said this week.
Impressed with what Hyundai had accomplished in just three and a half years as a shipbuilder, Giugiaro accepted the task of developing the Pony family of models.
"When I see what South Korea is today, and where Hyundai stands in the global automaker ranking, I am really proud to have helped them to develop their own models,” Giugiaro said.
In addition to the first-generation Pony, built from 1975 to 1986 with a production run of about 685,800 units, Giugiaro designed four other production models for Hyundai: the Stellar midsize sedan, launched in 1983 and considered South Korea’s first premium model; the Excel compact hatchback and Presto sedan, used by Hyundai to successfully enter the U.S. market; and the Sonata large sedan (1988).