This was unexpected, but delightful, kind of like finding the last brown rye cracker thing in a bag of Chex Mix that you thought you’d already fully scavenged. The “this” I’m referring to is an old ’70s-era Hyundai Pony that was converted to an EV and re-styled by Hak Soo Ha, Hyundai’s chief interiors designer, and showed up on Instagram. It’s a real old Pony, and I think the updates to it — which are mostly modern but do include some Nixie tubes on the dash — are all very clever and look great.
The Hyundai Pony never came to America — we only got Hyundais after their initial car-building endeavors, when they moved from the rear-wheel-drive Pony to the front-wheel-drive Excel.
The Pony was the first car built in South Korea in really large quantities, and the first to be exported in any numbers as well. Built from 1975 to 1990, it wasn’t exactly a great car, as it was roughly based on another pretty un-great car, the British Morris Marina.
Still, it had a sharp Giugiaro fastback design and was quite successful, enough to really get Hyundai going strong. You can see that Hyundai was really looking at the strength of the baseline design here, and the way they chose to update the design vocabulary while keeping the original character intact I think is really impressive.
Hyundai was using an actual original Pony, and opted to keep the body panels largely unchanged, so other elements, like the lighting, become especially important. I really like how the square chrome bezels around the original lights were translated into LED DRLs on the new EV version:
And, even cooler, it appears that when the main headlamps turn on, it looks like the light pattern gets inverted to illuminate the round lamp. It’s clever and fun.
Around back, we have a dot-matrix design for the taillights, which both feels futuristic and ’80s-cool simultaneously, an impressive achievement:
I think you could argue that the cleaner-lined, less ornamented approach to the original design helps to create a really pure version of the car’s look, maybe something that is even closer to the root source of the Pony’s ItalDesign-penned look.
Inside, we have the amazing Nixie tube dash — honestly, in the ’70s and ’80s a seven-segment VFD type of dash would have been more likely, but I’m never going to say no to Nixies. Look how amazing this looks:
Also, fantastic roll-up window design there, too.
There haven’t been really many technical details given about the car other than it started life as an actual Pony and has a new EV drivetrain.
It’s on display now at Hyundai’s new customer center in Busan, so if you’re anywhere near the southeast coast of South Korea, I think you should go check this thing out.
This was a great surprise, Hyundai! A good cheap EV that looks like this would do great in America, I bet, if you’re curious.