Junkyard Find: 2003 Pontiac Aztek

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 2003 pontiac aztek

Now that we’re all about 21st-century Junkyard Finds this week, let’s admire another JF first: the Pontiac Aztek. A popular TV show really ended up muddying the cultural waters around the Aztek, in a process similar to what happened with the DeLorean DMC-12 in the late 1980s, so let’s try to remember back to a time when each of saw our first Aztek and thought what could The General have been thinking?

I live in urban Denver, which means I’m surrounded by vast armies of backpackers, skiers, campers, rock climbers, snowboarders, and the like, and many of these folks thought that the Aztek was a vehicle perfectly suited to the stuff they wanted to do on weekends. There are at least four Azteks that live within a few blocks of my house (and a half-dozen VW Vanagon Syncros, which indicates a masochistic and/or delusional streak to go with the tolerance of ugly vehicles that your typical Denver Aztek owner demonstrates), and I see them on the street all the time. It was only a matter of time before they started showing up at self-service wrecking yards, and now that day has come.

“An aggressively styled, technologically advanced sport utility vehicle.”

“I’m all about working hard, standing out, and playing large.”

For the kind of people who eat baby carrots on road trips. I assume that GM had Avalanche ads running at the same time that showed dudes driving Avalanches over the skulls of endangered tortoises while knocking back Hog Blood Gushers™ and tossing M-1000 s out the windows.

Sam and Kate like to swing to the beat.

That’s because the Aztek had rear sound-system controls, which worked pretty well at tailgate parties. Of course, once Bluetooth-enabled smartphones allowed you to control your car’s sound system from a device in your pocket, the Aztek’s setup became less useful.

This one has been stripped of the tent and many of the options that made the Aztek so useful to outdoorsy types. All that remains is the ugly.

Still, this was a better version of “hide the minivan” than most faux-offroader machines styled to look like military trucks. Who knows, maybe I’ll spot the notorious “bite the banana” Aztek in a junkyard one of these days.

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3 of 111 comments
  • Crtfour Crtfour on Jun 06, 2014

    One thing I noticed from the pictures, besides how ugly it is, is that it has rear DRUM brakes...in 2003? GM has got to be the all time king of cost cutting in the automotive world.

    • Texan01 Texan01 on Jun 08, 2014

      look under the rear of many 2014 cars... especially on the cheap ones, you'll still find drum brakes. I worked on a 2009 Yaris the other day that has drum brakes on the rear.

  • Pebble Pebble on Jun 06, 2014

    Somebody get me an Aztek and a GMC Envoy XUV, stat!