What Is a “Pony Car”?

When discussing mini cars or trucks, many drivers immediately think about Kei-cars or Kei-trucks from Japan. However, not every car enthusiast also knows that a vehicle with a compact body and styled coupes with a sporty design from America is known as a Pony car. Have you heard about the term “pony car” before? And what is a Pony car? Let’s find the story behind the American small vehicle:

pony car definition
A Pony car has a long hood upfront to suggest a lot of power and combined with this design is a short rear deck. (Photo: pinterest.com)

What Is A Pony Car 

Before understanding the Pony car definition, we will go through a quick history lesson back in 1964 about the origin of this car. By the late 1950s after world war II, vehicle demand for driving increased in America. To lure buyers into this emerging car market, automakers looked at making cars that were cool and fast versus bland and practical.

Cars specifically designed to attract new and young drivers were nicknamed “Pony cars”. Many drivers assumed that the term “pony car” and the Ford Mustang are the same because Ford designed Mustangs based on a compact chassis, Ford Falcon. But, actually, we can’t deny that the origin of the Pony car started from the Ford Mustang which was launched in 1964.

At that time there was no other vehicle like a Mustang and this car broke the sales record after the war in America. Other American manufacturers raced to launch competing models, starting the “Pony trend”, because Mustang is also known as a “wild horse”. At this time, everyone knows how popular Pony cars become and other automakers rushed their versions to the market including the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, and Mercury Cougar…

Most vehicles designed also have the same traits: short deck, affordable price, compact design, and customization, all these factors were easy to attract young Americans at that time. And it’s also one of the features of a Pony car, however, when talking about Pony vehicles, there is more than that. 

What are Pony cars? If you’ve heard about the muscle car so you can be easy to imagine the Pony car. The idea behind the muscle car is pretty simple you take a mid-size or full-size car and just cram as much horsepower under the hood as possible. And a Pony car has a little more than that.

It’s also about the design of the body. A Pony car has a long hood upfront to suggest a lot of power and combined with this design is a short rear deck. Overall, it looks very sporty. 

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Things You Should Know About Pony Cars

Pony cars & Muscle cars are not the same 

muscle car vs pony car
Many drivers assumed that the term “pony car” and the Ford Mustang are the same. (Photo: pinterest.com)

Many drivers are confused that the muscle car vs Pony is the one. And many regions call muscle cars – pony cars. That shows that the line has almost been blurred between these two vehicles. However, in terms of origin, they are still two different vehicles.

The 1964 Ford Mustang made its debut at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964, and its popularity immediately ignited a whole new category of Pony cars. The success of the Mustang cars led a lot of other companies that emerge in the car market, and it also has made a new category in the auto market dubbed Pony cars.

At that time, Pony vehicles were so attractive that, unlike muscle cars, they also spread to foreign brands, such as Ford Capri in Europe, Toyota Celica, and Opel Manta, among others. So, how to distinguish between a Muscle car and a Pony car?

An automobile can be of many types, as the definitions are no longer as strict as they used to be. For example, the Mustang Shelby GT500 has the handling of a sports car, the looks and backseat of a Pony car, and the power under the hood of a muscle car.

Small engine block

You might know that Pony cars have a sporty design but these cars don’t own a sporty performance because one of the common features of Pony cars is smaller engines compared to the muscle vehicles. Almost Pony cars have been equipped with V8 engine blocks or even straight six-cylinder engines.

On the other hand, muscle cars were always much larger both in dimensions and in terms of the firepower used under the hood. And although some pony cars still have a big motor originally the Pony car had a smaller V8 engine in it.

A smooth operation, no engine noise affecting the driver, good balance, and outstanding power are the outstanding advantages when talking about V8 engines and we also think that the pony car will also possess high power when equipped with the V8 engine.

Because of having a smaller engine, some Pony cars are powerful enough compared to muscle cars. So if you are a speed fan, the performance of a Pony car may not satisfy your passion. It can see that the engine is one of the major features to help you distinguish between Pony cars and Muscle cars.

Special designs

If you don’t look closely and you are not a car enthusiast, it will be hard for you to distinguish between a Pony and a Muscle car because its outside appearance looks like a muscle car but with a smaller engine. Pony cars are named after a running horse image and it’s also the logo and the iconic of these vehicles.

In addition to, a long hood, shorter rear deck, convertible, and later fastback are the outstanding features when talking about Pony cars.

Overall, Pony cars are smaller and lighter compared to muscle cars and more importantly only available in the two-door platform. These are also signature traits of Pony cars. It’s really closer to a racer car than it’s a street car and it’s got the engine in the back. 

Independent rear suspension 

This suspension helps a Pony handle more like a sports car. For the first time ever, all production Mustangs have independent rear suspension. Not only does this mean better ride quality and performance on the street but also on the track.

And after that, the new Pony with its all-new integral link rear suspension design can allow us the adjustability to do exactly what we need on the Formula Drift circuit.

We will have complete control and this is all done independently the left and the right are moving entirely separately to improve the braking performance and the cornering of Pony models. We can say that Pony’s independent rear suspension offers a ton of grip and automakers made a few changes to optimize it for drifting and on the track.

The price is cheaper than buying a muscle car. 

classic pony cars
Pony cars are smaller and lighter compared to muscle cars. (Photo: pinterest.com)

We’re sure that the price is one of the top concerns of every driver when buying any car. Fortunately, it doesn’t cost too much for you to have a Pony compared to owning a Muscle. Starting price of a Pony on the market currently will range from $27770 to $58000 depending on the model and year.

For example, an Ecoboost Fastback will have a price of $30,920 and a Dark horse will cost about $57,950. While you will have to pay about $50000 to $80000 or even more to have a Muscle car. You can spend less when buying a Pony like Ford Mustang than a muscle car such as a Chevrolet Chevelle.

However, there is one thing you should know about the Pony car is that although the price may be more affordable than a muscle car it can be expensive for you to fix a Pony. The reason is that all the parts of Pony cars are not available and it’s hard for you to find them. So before buying a Pony, make sure you know about this downside. 

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After spending your time with Car From Japan to find out what is a Pony car, did you fall in love with these classic Pony cars? These compact and powerful vehicles are equipped with many benefits and modern technology although it still has some downsides. Hopefully, after reading this article you will have the right decision before buying this car.