The Pontiac Aztek may have been killed in 2005 with dismal sales but Breaking Bad would make it famous albeit too little too late in 2008. Since then though, the Aztek has developed a bit of a cult following, with more and more people trying to preserve them. Does that make it a future classic?
Let’s start from the beginning. In July 2000, General Motors began producing the Aztek under the Pontiac brand. It was made in Mexico, in the Ramos Arizpe Assembly plant. The Aztek was launched as aa 5 door crossover with a front engine, front wheel or all-wheel drive, sport recreational vehicle. The Aztek shared the same platform, although shortened, as the GM minivans such as the Pontiac Montana used during the era. The entire thing was powered by a 3.4 V6 engine, the LA1, producing 185 horsepower and 210lb feet of torque which was mated to a 4 speed automatic transmission.
The Aztek was unique in styling for sure (and I’ll get to that soon), but it also had some unique features. It was one of the first cars to be designed using a computerized rapid-prototyping/rapid-visualization tools. There were also options to include a center console that doubled as a removable cooler. In the rear, you could add a tent/inflatable mattress package that included in a built-in air compressor turning the car into a camper. The Aztek also had a feature for two rear cargo area options, either a pull-out cargo tray that can hold 400 pounds or a versatile cargo net system that held 200 pounds.
Now the most controversial point of the Aztek was of course the styling. It was considered so bad at the time, that the vehicle was routinely named one of the worst cars of its time. Pulitzer Prize winning automotive critic and syndicated columnist Dan Neil once wrote “the Aztek violate(d) one of the principal rules of car design: we like cars that look like us. With its multiple eyes and supernumerary nostrils, the Aztek looks deformed and scary, something that dogs bark at and cathedrals employ to ring bells. The shame is, under all that ugliness, there was a useful, competent crossover.” The styling was certainly like nothing of it’s time, and I don’t really think there has been anything else since.
Pontiac produced Azteks from 2005 to 2007, making a total of 119,692 which weren’t terrible numbers but they never made the minimal 30,000 Azteks a year that they needed to break even. As a result, the Aztek was killed off. It certainly has the history, and a rather unique story to make it a classic. As far as acquiring them, you can still find a decent condition Aztek for around $2,000 which is not terrible. So the price, combined with the history, and the rapid advancing cult following, certainly does make it a future classic. Although much like when the Aztek launched, even as a future classic, it won’t hit everyone’s taste buds.