As It Happens

A Hyundai Pony, once Canada's favourite hatchback, on sale for $15K

A Quebec dealership is selling a "magnifique" 1986 Hyundai Pony in great condition — a minor miracle considering the car was notorious for rusting over in the Canadian winter.

The Pony was 'like a donkey,' says car writer, 'They were faithful, but they weren't rugged'

A Quebec dealership is selling a Hyundai Pony in great condition — which is a minor miracle considering the extremely popular '80s car was notorious for falling apart in the Canadian winter. (Brossard Hyundai)

A Quebec dealership is selling a "magnifique" 1986 Hyundai Pony in great condition — which is a minor miracle considering the extremely popular '80s car was notorious for falling apart in the Canadian winter.

The cheap Korean car sold like gangbusters when it first hit the Canadian market, but it's tendency to rust when it came into contact with snow means its popularity quickly waned. 

Now, a shiny, mint-condition, used silver Pony can be yours for $14,995 from the Hyundai dealership in Brossard, Que.

Vancouver car journalist Brendan McAleer — who test drove a Pony for a 2014 article on — told As It Happens host Carol Off about its unique history. Here is part of their conversation.

Why did Canadians have such a love affair with the Hyundai Pony?

The main thing to remember about Canada that unites us all more than anything is that we are really in love with a good bargain. We're really cheap.

This car came out in December of '83 as a 1984 model. It cost $5,994 dollars, and that was thousands less than a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic.

And it looked nicer than some of the sort of really inexpensive Eastern European stuff that was available in Canada and not the U.S.

We immediately started buying these things up like crazy. The initial run, I think, was supposed to be 5,000 cars — and they ended up selling 25,000.

The dashboard of a 1986 Hyundai Pony on sale in Brossard, Que. (Brossard Hyundai )

This is in the 1980s, so why do we never see Hyundai Ponys around anymore? 

The problem is that they were good value initially, but they were very disposable cars. They just did not last.

There are some stories about how the door hinges would only open so many times before they would fail. 

The Hyundai Pony was sort of a 1970s car with a facelift on it. So it just kind of fell apart.

You wrote at one point that if you listened carefully, you could actually hear them rusting.

Back east, they didn't like the winters.

Apparently they were pretty good at starting up in cold weather.

They were ... like a donkey. They just kept going. They were faithful, but they weren't rugged. They just kind of fell apart in people's hands.

Cloth seats, a cassette player and a cup holder are among the Pony's selling points. (Brossard Hyundai)

Just a few years ago though, you actually got hold of a Pony. How did it handle? 

The surprising thing, I think, was that it was actually pretty good. It had a 70-horsepower engine, so it was by modern standards, very slow.

It did not have the optional tachometer; it was a manual.

It had a clock instead, and I believe somebody chimed in and said based on the zero to 60 [mph], maybe a calendar would have been more appropriate. 

Is it tempting? Can you see that might be something you want to buy — a mint-condition Hyundai Pony? 

I recognize that I have pretty weird taste in cars compared to, like, what a normal person would have.

But, it's not tempting to me because it's not part of my childhood. I was still watching Fraggle Rock when the Pony came out.

But I do think that it wouldn't surprise me that it became part of somebody else's collection or that in this case, it's in a dealership as a preserved piece of history.

The car that I drove had actually been purchased from its original owner by a Korean man who had immigrated to Vancouver, and he was actually taking the car back to Korea because his dad had had one.

In Korea, Hyundai in particular is very proud of the Pony because it was sort of the start of their automotive industry.

A dealership in Quebec has put a rare 1986 Pony — in what they describe as 'magnifique' condition — up for sale. (Brossard Hyundai )

Special features are that it has cloth seats, a cassette player and a cup holder. Those are the only three features that are advertised here. I guess that's about it? 

The original ad in the Pony, when it debuted, they actually made a big deal of the fact that the carpeting in the car was the whole car, that you actually had carpet in your trunk.

I think they said something like, "You have full interior carpeting from the tip of the driver's toe to the end of the cargo space." And that it had a rear window defroster. 

Again, our standards were very low in the '80s. Like, we didn't have any of this stuff. 

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from Samantha Lui and Kate Swoger. Produced by Kate Swoger. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 


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