The Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company was founded by self-made business magnate Chung Ju-Yung in 1947, and the Hyundai Motor Company was established in 1967 as an automobile-focussed offshoot. The company’s first model – the Cortina – was released in co-operation with the Ford Motor Company in 1968, though Hyundai received little recognition for their role in producing the iconic Cortina.
After this commercial – if not cultural – success, the company wanted to put Hyundai tyres on tarmac, and put (South) Korea on the map as a world-class car producer. To this end, they hired Sir George Henry Turnbull, the former managing director of Austin Morris, and he hired Kenneth Barnett, John Simpson, Edward Chapman, John Crosthwaite and Peter Slater in turn. By 1975, These 6 chaps from Britain were able to whip up Hyundai Pony, the first all-South-Korean car, with styling by Giorgio Giugiaro of ItalDesign and powertrain technology provided by Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors.
After modest domestic sales, Hyundai decided to export the Pony to Canada in 1984 (but not to America, because their emissions standards were too strict!) with massive success. At one point, the Pony was the fastest-selling car in Canada, and Hyundai had built the 1 millionth Pony by 1985. After these foreign successes, the company wanted to shift more Hyundai tyres, and cleaned up their act enough to sell the Hyundai Excel to the growing middle classes in America, which was praised by Fortune magazine for its affordability. By 1988, Hyundai shifted towards proprietary technology with its own Engines and transmissions in the pursuit of technological independence and sought to improve their reputation with warranties and aggressive marketing.
Though the brand had modest beginnings, originally second fiddle to the massive Ford Motor Company, Hyundai has since grown to a world-class brand, consistently putting out respectable cars in Hyundai tyres. Largely known for economical and sports cars, Hyundai motors are best enjoyed in slick tyres on a smooth motorway.