This article refers mainly to the rear-wheel drive Hyundai Pony (1975-1985). For the front-wheel drive car that was sold in Europe as the Hyundai Pony (1985-1994), see Hyundai Excel.

The Hyundai Pony (Hangul: 현대 포니), was a compact car produced by the South Korean manufacturer Hyundai from 1975 to 1994. The Pony was South Korea's first mass-produced[1] and exported car, while the name remained in use until 2000 on export versions of Hyundai Excel and Accent. This article focuses on the first two generations of the Pony, which were build from 1975 to 1982 and onwards to 1985. It also briefly handles the following series on the European market, were Pony-successor Excel remained the old name until 1994.

Hyundai Pony
Hyundai Pony 1984 Utrecht.jpg
2nd-generation Hyundai Pony hatchback in Utrecht
AssemblyUlsan, South Korea
Body and chassis
ClassCompact car (C)
LayoutFR layout, FF layout
SuccessorHyundai Excel
Hyundai Elantra


When Hyundai wanted to develop their own car, they hired George Turnbull, the former managing director of Austin Morris at British Leyland in 1974.[2] He in turn hired five other top British car engineers, Kenneth Barnett as body designer, engineers John Simpson and Edward Chapman, John Crosthwaite as chassis engineer and Peter Slater as chief development engineer.[3][4] With Turnbull's experience with the Morris Marina, [5] engines and transmissions from Mitsubishi, some parts from the Ford Cortina they were already producing, and a hatchback body styled by Italdesign Giugiaro, they developed the Hyundai Pony.

First generation (1975–1982)Edit

First generation
1982 Pony GLS sedan
DesignerGiorgetto Giugiaro at Italdesign
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe utility
3-door hatchback
4-door sedan
5-door hatchback
5-door station wagon
Wheelbase2340 mm (92.1 in)
Length4029 mm (158.7 in)
Width1566 mm (61.7 in)
Height1355 mm (53.3 in)
Curb weight910 kg (2,006 lb)
Hyundai Pony sedan

The Pony was presented at the Turin Motor Show in October 1974, and the car was introduced in December 1975 as a four-door sedan to compete with the Saehan Gemini and Kia Brisa. A coupé utility version was added in May 1976, which was called Pick-up. Technically, a pickup has a separate cargo tray while the Pony had it integrated in the body. A station wagon arrived in April 1977. In 1981, the small bootlid from the sedan was replaced by a hatchback creating a new five-door model. This was accompanied with a new three-door hatchback.

Hyundai began exporting the Pony to Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Egypt in 1976. European exports began in 1979 with Belgium and the Netherlands, with Greece added shortly thereafter. Export to the United Kingdom started in 1983 with the second generation Pony. The Pick-up version was added in October that year, only available with the smaller, 1.2 liter, engine and a 380 kg (838 lb) payload.[6]

A station wagon version joined the range in April 1977

The 1.2 L (1238 cc) four-cylinder engine claimed 55 PS (40 kW) and the 1.4 L (1439 cc) produced 68 PS (50 kW). The 1.4 GLS was tested by the British car magazine Motor and top speed was 92 mph with acceleration from 0–60 mph in 15.3 seconds.[7]


  • 1200:GLS/GL/Standard (UK: T, L, TL, GL)
  • 1400:GLS/GL (UK: TL, GL, TLS, GLS)
  • 1600:GLS/GL/Limited (not in all markets)

Second generation (1982)Edit

Second generation
1985 Pony GLS hatchback
Body and chassis
Body style
Transmission4-speed manual
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
1984 Hyundai Pony 1600GLS Canada Spec
Hyundai Pony Pickup

In January 1982, the Pony II was presented. Although technically identical to the original Pony, due to the full restyling it's considered as the second generation Pony. Quoting a sales brochure: You'll see New Pony luxury in such things as rectangular halogen headlamps, fitted in a smart new radiator grille. You'll see it in the wrap-around indicators, completely re-styled rear lamp clusters and neatly designed instrument panel with easy-to-read gauges. These new refinements are just part of many distinctive features of the New Pony. The Pony II was only available as five-door hatchback and two-door Pick-up.

With the Pony II, export also began to the UK in the spring of 1982 – making it the first Korean car to be sold there. This marked the beginning of a very successful foray into the European market by Korean carmakers, with Kia arriving in 1991 and Daewoo in 1995. The Daewoo brand disappeared after a decade when General Motors decided to adopt the Chevrolet brand on its European market models, but Hyundai and Kia have both enjoyed increasing success on the UK market.

The Pony was also exported to Canada from 1983, but not to the United States because it did not pass federal emissions standards there (the Pony's successor model, the Excel, would be the first Hyundai car model to be sold in the United States). Canadian sales greatly exceeded expectations, and it was at one point the top-selling car in that market, as they were among the most inexpensive cars sold there. The Pony II was notorious for poor quality, although it afforded a much higher degree of quality and refinement in the lowest-price auto segment than the Eastern-bloc imports of the period then available, which helped Hyundai to get a foothold in that market.[8]

Engine typesEdit

For 1984, the Pony came only with a 1439 cc (88ci) 4G33 engine inline-four, rated at 70 hp (52 kW) and 82 lb·ft (111 N·m) of torque. This engine was available with either a four-speed or five-speed manual or a three-speed automatic transmission. The 1238 cc (74ci) 4G36 engine was not available in Canada. This engine was retained across the line until 1986, after which only the 1597 cc (97ci) 4G32 engine (74 hp (55 kW), 93 lb·ft (126 N·m) torque) was available. In mid-1985, the door handles were blacked out, chrome was removed from the windshield wipers, and the "HD" badge was removed from the center of the grille and replaced with the lettering "Hyundai" off to the left side. A 1.6-liter model 4G32 engine became available in 1985, with optional air conditioning. These powerplants had a hemispherical crossflow cylinder head, two valves per cylinder (chain-driven SOHC), a two-barrel downdraft carburetor (manual choke) and breaker point-type ignition.

Trim levelsEdit

From 1984 to 1986, trim levels were LE (standard), L, GL, GLX and GLS. The L featured vinyl seats, a fold-down rear bench seat, and usually a four-speed manual transmission mated to a 1.4 L I4 engine. The GL included vinyl-cloth seats, a standard clock (which was mounted in the instrument cluster) rear wiper, passenger-side mirror, tinted glass, lockable fuel door, standard door guards, upgraded interior trim, and (from 1985) an available 1.6 L engine. The GLS included the above with the option of a tachometer, passenger-side vanity mirror, full cloth seats, 50/50 fold-down seats, and (from 1985) a standard 1.6 L engine.

Only the L and CX were trim levels for 1987. The L was the same as the previous L, however the clock was now digital and the CX had a standard tachometer. From 1986 to 1987, interior colors available were tan or blue. From 1984 to 1985, it was gray.

Options included rear window louvers, a front air dam, rear spoiler, GT package (which included a leather-wrapped Momo three-spoke steering wheel), tachometer, different trim and badging, fog lamps, and extra lights in the rear. All GTs came with the more powerful 1.6 L engine. The Pony pickup was sold in Europe (only) until the end of the 1980s.

The second generation Pony remained on sale until 1988 (until 1990 in South Korea). In some markets the Pony was replaced by a re-badged Hyundai Excel from 1985, particularly in Europe.


  • 1200 LE/L/GLX/GLS/GL/Standard
  • 1400:GLS/GL/CX
  • 1600:GLS/CX

Canadian-spec (Non-ECC LHD)Edit

The Canadian version of the Pony had to be changed slightly to meet standards of that country. The Pony was released for sale in Canada for the 1984 model year and ended in 1987. Differences between the Canadian Pony versus its European counterparts were 8 km/h bumpers, sealed-beam headlights, side marker lamps instead of indicator repeaters (also in a lower position), and slight alterations in interior instrumentation and trim application. Initial projections for 1984 called for 5000 sales, but the final total was an astounding 25,123,[9] making the Pony one of Canada's best selling cars that year. The Pony was sold until 1987, even while Excels were for sale alongside.

For the second and third generations, some taxi models of the Hyundai Accent were sold as Super Pony. The fourth generation used the name Grand Pony instead.

1985–1989: Pony X1Edit

Third generation
1986 Hyundai Pony 5-door hatchback, Europe
Body and chassis
Body style
  • 1.3 L I4
  • 1.5 L I4
Transmission4-speed manual
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic

A completely new Pony was introduced for the 1985 model year. Launched as Excel, the car continued the Pony nameplate in Europe. It was much more modern with new engines, front-wheel drive and an all-new design. Available engines were 1,3 (1298 cc (79ci)) and 1,5 litre (1468 cc (90ci)) inline-four units, producing 66 HP (49 kW) and 71 HP (53 kW). For several markets including the US, this X1 series was named Excel and was their first encounter with Hyundai's compact car. On the South Korean home market, the hatchbacks were marketed as "Pony Excel" and the sedan was called Hyundai Presto. The 1985 Pony was only sold as five-door hatchback in Europe, while other markets also had the three-door hatchback and four-door sedan, mostly named as Excel. Unlike the first Pony Sedan, the Pony/Excel X1 Sedan had the boot separated from the passenger compartment.


On most European markets, the Pony X1 was available in six configurations:

  • 1.3 L, 4-speed manual
  • 1.3 GL, 4-speed manual
  • 1.5 GL, 4-speed manual
  • 1.3 GLS, 4-speed manual
  • 1.5 GLS, 5-speed manual
  • 1.5 GLS, 3-speed automatic

1987 facelift: Pony XPEdit

With the 1987 facelift, the Pony name got the XP suffix which was also found on the car itself. More important, this series saw the return of both the three-door hatchback and the four-door sedan in Europe. The 1,3 liter engine was discontinued, the 1,5 liter remained unchanged. In Europe, the LE was added as fourth trim level, this being the new entry level followed by the familiar L, GL and GLS models. All trim levels could be combined with all three body styles. An automatic gearbox was again available only on the GLS model.


  • 1.5 LE, 4-speed manual
  • 1.5 L, 4-speed manual
  • 1.5 GL, 4-speed manual
  • 1.5 GL, 5-speed manual
  • 1.5 GLS, 5-speed manual
  • 1.5 GLS, 3-speed automatic

1989–1994: Pony X2Edit

Third generation
1992 Hyundai Excel 3-door hatchback, US
Body and chassis
Body style3-door hatchback
4-door sedan
5-door hatchback
  • 1.5 L I4
  • 1.5 L I4 MPI
Transmission4-speed manual
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic

Brought as a new generation, the 1989 Pony was more like a next facelift. The XP suffix was dropped and a new version of the 1,5 litre engine was introduced, with electronic fuel-injection instead of a carburetor. This 1.5 MPI produced 85 HP (62 kW). Most remarkable, this fifth generation was very short lived: with the 1990 model year yet another facelift appeared.

Another notable fact was the renaming of the four-door Pony Sedan to Excel in Europe. This transition went gradually, for example in the Dutch 1989 brochure photo's of a Pony badged sedan are shown while the text refers to Excel. The 1990 brochure shows an actual Excel.

For 1989, the five-door hatchback was still available in the US but only in a few versions: the 1.5 GL with 4-speed manual and a 5-speed as option and the 1.5 GLS with a 5-speed as standard. Automatic gearboxes were available on both GL and GLS. The 1.5 MPI engine was not offered in the five-door Pony. On the other hand, both the Pony three-door hatchback as well as the Excel four-door sedan came in a vast amount of models.


The 1989 Pony and Excel models were most extensive of all European series.

Pony three-door hatchback:

  • LE 4-speed manual
  • L 4-speed manual
  • L 5-speed manual
  • GS 5-speed manual
  • GT 5-speed manual
  • GT 3-speed automatic
  • GTi 5-speed manual
  • GTi 4-speed automatic
  • GTX 5-speed manual
  • GTXi 5-speed manual

Pony five-door hatchback:

  • GL, 4-speed manual
  • GL, 5-speed manual
  • GL, 3-speed automatic
  • GLS, 5-speed manual
  • GLS, 3-speed automatic

Excel four-door sedan:

  • L 4-speed manual
  • GL 4-speed manual
  • GL 5-speed manual
  • GLS 5-speed manual
  • SX 5-speed manual
  • SLX 5-speed manual
  • SLX 3-speed automatic
  • SLXi 5-speed manual
  • SLXi 4-speed automatic
  • SGX 5-speed manual
  • SGXi 5-speed manual

1990 faceliftEdit

The Pony's and Excel's 1989 styling was closely related to the all-new Sonata, which was launched in Europe for the 1989 model year. The mid-sized Sonata, successor of the Stellar, underwent already a facelift for the 1990 model year. The styling of both the Pony and Excel followed just as soon to keep the resemblance with the Sonata. Most noticeable was the front end, where all three cars' orange indicator lenses were replaced by clear ones and the headlamps became less rectangular. Also for 1990, the trim levels were reduced and simplified.


  • Pony three-door hatchback GL, 4-speed manual
  • Pony three-door hatchback GL, 5-speed manual
  • Pony three-door hatchback GS, 5-speed manual
  • Pony three-door hatchback GS, 3-speed automatic
  • Pony five-door hatchback GL, 5-speed manual
  • Pony five-door hatchback GLS, 5-speed manual
  • Pony five-door hatchback GLS, 3-speed automatic
  • Excel four-door sedan GL, 5-speed manual
  • Excel four-door sedan GLS, 5-speed manual
  • Excel four-door sedan GLS, 3-speed automatic

In 1994 an all-new model was launched, the X3-series. In most markets, the Pony name was dropped entirely in favour of Excel, resulting in three body styles with that name. Other markets sold this car as the first generation Hyundai Accent.

The final usage of the Pony name was with the second generation Accent, the LC-series which was launched in 1999 and sold as Pony in France. The Pony name was last used by Hyundai in 2000.


  1. ^ "Hyundai Pony – Koreas First Mass-Produced Car in 1976". 2010-02-21. Archived from the original on 2013-12-26. Retrieved 2011-12-06.
  2. ^ Wood, Jonathan (24 December 1992). "Obituary: Sir George Turnbull". The Independent. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  3. ^ The Times July 4th 1974
  4. ^ The Engineer. Jan 30th 1975
  5. ^ Korean connection
  6. ^ Kennett, Pat, ed. (September 1982). "What's New: Budget-price pick-up". TRUCK. London, UK: FF Publishing Ltd: 11.
  7. ^ Motor March 1982
  8. ^ Cheney, Peter. "10 worst cars chosen by our readers". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2011-12-06.
  9. ^ "Import sales up on Pony express". Windsor Star. Windsor, Ontario. January 12, 1985. p. D12. In 1984, Hyundai delivered 25,123 models