13,687 Mile Mule: 1986 Hyundai Pony

If I had a nickel for every time one of you asked to see more Hyundais, I’d have.. maybe a nickel, or not. But this one was too good to pass up – check out this 1986 Hyundai Pony! I know, a what?! This OEM gem is at Brossard Hyundai in beautiful Brossard, QC – Canada, just across the Champlain Bridge spanning the St. Lawrence River from Montreal. The dealer is asking $14,995 ($11,575 US) for this museum piece. Thanks to Scot R. for sending in the tip for this unusual time machine!

This isn’t a vehicle that we would normally show here. I don’t believe that we’ve ever shown a Hyundai or Kia at Barn Finds, thanks for ruining our record, Scot! (kidding, of course) This car is a cross between a unicorn and Bigfoot (Unifoot? Bigcorn?). It’s a unicorn because of how rare it is to see such a drop-dead perfect 1980s economy car and it’s like a bigfoot sighting because of what a powerhouse Hyundai has become in the last 30 years. That’s why it’s here. Believe it or not, this isn’t a car that even I aspire to own, but I love that it still exists.

I don’t know if many of us who were around in the early to mid-1980s thought that Hyundai (simply pronounced “Hun-day”) would even be around in 2018 let alone would be such a juggernaut of a corporation. Hyundais and Kias are as thick on the roads as a college football player’s neck these days, they are literally everywhere. I see probably hundreds of them every day. I even see several of them every day with American flags stuck to the rear bumper which I always thought was a bit incongruent until I remembered that a lot of them are built here in the US now in gigantic factories that are keeping thousands of people employed.

The Pony, like this second-generation car, wasn’t exported to the US because they didn’t meet our tougher emissions standards. It was a top-selling car in the Canadian market, however, and as you can imagine there aren’t many of them left because of the havoc that snow and road salt wreaked on that thin sheet steel. This front view reminds me of my former 1986 Nissan Stanza wagon, it’s so classic 1980s, so square, so great. This car has a mere 22,028 km on the odometer, which is 13,687 miles to us yanks.

Like the exterior, the interior looks absolutely like new in this Pony. I always like to see a manual transmission, especially in a small car like this. Or, in any car, truck, van, airplane.. well, almost any vehicle. This was the era when you were probably getting your first CD player for your home stereo as well as upgrading your woodgrain top-load VCR player to a more “modern” front-load model. This car has an in-dash cassette player which was a nice option for a basic car over three decades ago.

Even with twenty photos posted by the dealership, there isn’t one photo of the engine! Sacré bleu! This Pony has a 1.6L inline-four 4G32 Mitsubishi engine which would have had 74 hp. These cars weren’t as reliable as new Hyundais and Kias are but they were a huge stepping stone for the company to get to where it is today. This car won’t be popular with 90% of Barn Finds readers but the fact that a thin-metal import has survived in snow country for over three decades in like-new condition is pretty amazing.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    I had the Mitsubishi version of this car, the Precis ( Jerry Seinfeld made a hilarious observation about Asian car names, “Maximum”, no “Maxima”, “Integrity”, no “Integra”, and “Precise”, no “Precis”. I got it cheap, like $300 bucks in the ’90’s, and weird thing about it, it had a 5 speed, but 5th, on the tach, made no difference whatsoever. Like it was the same gear as 4th. So I did some reading in the owners manual,( which was amazingly still there, and that’s another thing, who removes a manual from the car?) and it said, you should hear a “click” going into 5th, as the 5th gear was somehow vacuum operated. Open the hood, sure enough, a vacuum line was missing by the trans. Hooked it up, click, viola, 5th gear.Then it was a nice car, got super mileage, until a deer jumped in front of me, that front end crumpled like aluminum foil. It was goodbye Precis.

    15
    • Miguel

      Howard, the Precis was the Mitsubishi rebadged version of the American Excel, not this car.

      3
      • Howard A Member

        Thanks, I noticed that after I posted and can’t edit early access stuff.

        1
  2. JoeNYWF64

    What if you hit a deer drivin today’s Mitz Mirage, Toyota Yaris, or Fiat 500 with very LITTLE hood? The Pony has a LONG hood to crumble. While in the other cars, you could be wearing the deer – & glass.
    Love the A L L blue interior in the Pony & decent rear seat legroom – try finding those today in a subcompact or compact.

    2
    • SubGothius

      Huh, looks like these are RWD, so the longitudinal engine (a licensed copy of the Mitsubishi 4G3 “Saturn” series) would explain the long hood.

      1
      • rodent

        Yes, the Pony was RWD.

        1
      • Ian C

        Rwd you say?!

        Well, in that case put an LS1 in it!

        Sorry, it had to be said.

  3. Andre

    These were like flies on Canadian roads in the early 90’s. They succumbed badly to rust at least here in central/east Canada.

    Dated a girl somewhere around 2000 and upon going to her parents place discovered her dad had a field of these things.. there must have been 12+ with the weeds growing around them.

    Never asked, didn’t really care.. But always thought it was a bit of a strange car to collect carcasses of..

    3
  4. Saul

    Looks like a cross between a Dodge Omni and Chevy/Geo “nova” from around the same timeframe.

    1
  5. Little Cars

    GM contribution to the demise of the Nova sedan…

    • 68custom

      but a least it is a reskinned Corolla! no thanks to the pony!

      1
    • Ralph

      The Nova sedan had been demised 5 years before these came out…..and I know that its a really shame that all the musclecar cred that the Nova sedan and its flaming 80hp 250cid was ruined by this car……..

      • Keefer Zeller

        My 72 Nova had a 350 CID with a 4bbl Holley and I know at least 375HP. I don’t know if you were being sarcastic or serious but, Novas in my time had plenty of muscle car cred if you took the time and money to make them so. I blew a lot of camaros and mustangs away. Novas don’t get the respect they deserve.

  6. Little Cars

    Dodge Omni styling cues….

    1
  7. Bob C.

    I almost bought a brand new 87 Excel, but opted for my buddy’s 84 Buick Skyhawk instead. Excels were all over the place in those days. They seemed like a good value for the price (real cheap). They were the ultimate “throwaway cars” of the 80s.

    2
    • Andre

      For some reason every Excel I remember was white…

  8. Beatnik Bedouin

    We had ’em in NZ and they were wonderfully forgettable. I haven’t seen one over here in years, mainly due to their propensity to rapidly rust into dust…

    3
  9. Miguel

    Where does the price come from?

    4
    • Andre

      An acid trip

      10
  10. Vance

    They used to spray the motor and undercarriage with some vile substance to prevent corrosion on the trip from Korea. On starting these cars the smell was like seaweed, rotting fish, and a hint of exhaust thrown in. It truly alarmed customers so you had to take a LONG test drive to burn it off while touting all the advantages of the frugal Hyundai. They have come a long way in 40 years.

    5
  11. glen

    I hope nobody pays this price.

    2
  12. Mark Evans

    These were crap when new & they & the Excel sold on price alone. Within a couple of years Hyundai had such a bad rep. in Canada that they were almost forced out of our market. It was years after these abominations were made that they started building competitive cars. I have owned a Veloster Turbo for the last 5 years without incident.

    3
  13. Aaron

    Rolled one in high school, and both the car and I survived. The car had its quirks after that and could never be properly aligned.

    Anyway, fast forward 17 years and I found one on Kijiji (Canadian Craigslist basically) in amazing condition. The price was right, it had less rust than a 5 year old Mazda 3 and super low mileage. (under 20,000 km)

    Anyway, I bought it and have been driving it everywhere since. It’s comfortable, it gets 49 miles per gallon on the highway, and after putting decent quality ignition parts on it and doing a valve adjustment, it runs flawlessly, even when it’s raining. (that was always an issue). That little 1.4 litre Mitsubishi fork lift engine just purrs.

    People give me the thumbs up while laughing at me, and while I’m used to the air-cooled VW “I had one of these, it was amazing!” talk at gas stations, now I get “I had one of these, we had to dangle a carrot in front of it to keep it moving!” stories.

    I love it. It’s an eccentric “classic”, yes, but I’m having fun with it. And it will never see another winter.

    Also, mine was $13,800 cheaper than this one and had lower mileage and a manual!

    10
  14. CanuckCarGuy

    Sorry for breaking the streak Scotty! I remember the Hyundai dealer opening in the small town I grew up in. With only the infamous Stellar and Pony to offer and no track record in Canada, it didn’t last long. In those days, people struggled to pronounce the company name, let alone wanting to become guinea pigs with buying one.

    Scot R.

    3
    • nrg8

      Stellars. ugh…. looked like a 4 dr sedan carved out of the cub car race kit. Pony although a Pony, didn’t have electrical gremlins or rattles every where or lights flickering or no starts. Stellars were supposedly top end of the trash heap. Pony no rattles, alot of drafts, simple wiring but points, manual choke. But ran forever until the seat blew threw the floor. Damn having an Archie Bunker moment. But really 2 years out, big ass rust blisters. People would pull the battery and give them away to get that 10k mistake out of the driveway. You literally could see the crater growing daily. Don’t remember how many guys used these through winter to protect the cars they cherished. Buysell would come out Thursday. Girl friend and I would make contact with these pony sellers. Had to be a stick, decent condition, and no soot around the tail pipe. Try to have 5 parked at the farm to resell for winter beaters. Offer hundred bucks let them keep the battery. Then on to the next one. Always a race to beat the wrecker drivers. Who usually asked for 20 bucks to take it to the shredder. Got to know one guy, told him what I would do with them. So he left the nicer 5 speeds. And he took the rest. Until we had safety checks mandatory when registering them. The day of the penny saver hundred dollar car were done…..

      2
      • Mark-A

        Engine was unburstable & was the first Private Hire Taxi I drove, so its got a Stellar reputation for reliability from me!

        1
    • Brock

      Ya that ads back then were “Hyundai..rhymes with Sunday”

      2
  15. KawiVulc

    What was the deal on a new Hyundai when they were introduced? $4995? Think that was it… seemed to me like a new car for people who couldn’t actually afford a new car. Didn’t hear much good about them & had no interest. Right about that time I needed a car for work (field tech, PC’s, printers, etc.) so I picked up an ’88 Chevy Spectrum Express (Isuzu I-Mark). I had driven my Mom’s & this little hatch seemed just the ticket. That car took it all, delivered 40+ MPG, could haul a 21″ CRT monitor (big and heavy) and the last set of tires I had put on cost $20 a corner. Was even stolen once & the dumba… er, less than intelligent individual who swiped it got busted because, wait for it… couldn’t drive a manual. Sort of a pre-millennial. Cop stops to check whether the driver is OK, notices there’s no key, heck, no ignition lock in the steering column. What a putz.

    2
  16. Farhvergnugen

    Holy crud. Rented one of these on a small island in the Caribbean. Stuffed five of us into it, and then proceeded to wonder why it wouldn’t go up a cross-island road until three got out (not counting the dude in a wheelchair) and pushed it up to the crest.
    Should either have a) taken the ‘ring’ road, or b) kept on pushing the POC over the crest and into the closest volcano.

    2
  17. Brock

    Had 3 of these. First one was a “Pony Plus”- that had rear window louvers, sunroof and front fog lights. With the big 1600 motor in it. Then two others after that- one with the 1400 that I swapped out another 1600 into it. They were GREAT! cars…don’t care what anybody says. I put about 165000 km each on them and ran them into the ground. Everybody I knew had Pony’s…cheap cars to run and easy to fix.

    4
  18. Wrong Way

    I don’t mind the car itself, but the price is very hilarious! I think that they cost pretty much close to the price brand new? Correct me if I am wrong please! What is the collectability of this that would make anyone want this for a collection? If a person bought it, they might as well drive it like a used car!

  19. PRA4SNW Member
    • Wrong Way

      That’s what I thought! LOL, thanks for the video!

  20. rod444

    I remember the week the first Hyundai dealer opened in my small western Canadian town (Brandon MB). I drove up to see the much talked about Pony and wasn’t totally unimpressed with the exterior or the price.

    But then I opened the hood and stood there wondering if I had taken a time warp – That engine was tiny with a side gap big enough to stuff your luggage into, very very basic and more like something you woulda found in a Russian Lada in the 50’s.

  21. dweezilaz

    Great find, Scotty.

    Now you need to scope out a Canadian Firenza !

    1
  22. Datsuntech

    The last Pony I remember seeing was in a junkyard over 20 years ago. They seemed to disappear overnight. One day they were everywhere the next, extinct..
    There was a guy I remember in the 90s who came out every cruise night with a Pony. It had Mustang 5.0 wheels on it and when he fired it up I heard a V8 rumble. I asked him, hey is that a 5.0 and he say no a 351. Wow, ok then. As he drove away I remember seeing the rear wheels wobbling as the axles were bent on the stock rearend from his many burnouts.
    I always thought it looked like a Korean copy of the Chevette.

  23. Fiete T.

    No. Just no…
    A Korean Yugo.

  24. W9BAG

    While stationed in Korea in ’78 – ’79, these were the main stay taxi, and have taken many a ride in one. The taxi’s had doilies on the seat backs, and the driver’s wore white gloves. Although low powered, they tackled the hills with aplomb, and were relatively comfortable. Very cool to see one again after all of these years ! In Seoul, there were, like, a million of these on the road every day !

  25. Patrick Shanahan

    I bought my daughter a new one of these back in ’89. The only thing good on it was the engine. Hyundia has come a long way since then. She put 64k on it and had nothing but trouble.

    • Aaron

      Sounds like you really misunderstood her when she asked for a pony for her birthday.

      3
  26. chad

    yep, just gettin used to the Japanese imports’n the Korean came in.
    Now the world’s ship builders.

    Thanks Scott. Like seein the square lines outside’n ‘cleaned up’ interior of those 80s models.
    I DO remember the stanza – intro of the mpv or early/1st mini vans (eagle summit, 4wd honda, 1 or 2 others). This’un got that hood.

    1

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