By on February 11, 2015

23 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt takes a lot for a 21st-century vehicle to make it into this series, and the Pontiac Aztek has no problem qualifying. Here in Denver, you see Azteks all over the place, presumably because they make sense for the outdoorsy lifestyle that’s so big here (you also see a lot of Vanagon Syncros, presumably because there are lots of masochists here). That means that they’re going to break something not worth fixing and show up at the local self-serve wrecking yard, and I will photograph them. Today’s Junkyard Find Aztek is in excellent condition and appears to have every single option available when new, from heads-up display to air-mattress-inflation compressor. Let’s check it out.
04 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you’re going to go into the mountains in the winter, you want your Aztek to have Versatrak AWD.
01 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis must be the first letter of the Aztek Alphabet.
06 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe owner’s manual is still here.
02 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is the sort of “we’re-gonna-tow-this-heap” form used by angry apartment-building managers.
12 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m tempted to pull a heads-up speedometer display out of a GM car of this era, just to tinker with it. The dash on the Aztek is so deep, however, that it seemed like too much hassle to break out the tools.
08 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is very nice for a 14-year-old car that was sufficiently unloved to get towed away and junked. I couldn’t check the odometer, because it’s digital.
17 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, the Aztek came with an air mattress. This one doesn’t have the tent, though perhaps I didn’t look hard enough.
22 - 2001 Pontiac Aztek Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSeems like this thing really would be good for camping trips. Too bad about the ugly.

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130 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2001 Pontiac Aztek AWD...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Cool car!

    ;-)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Has it really been 14 years already ? my how time flies .

    I remember seeing these when first released , at the Fair , they also had netting so you could sleep in the back and not get eaten by ‘skeeters .

    Looking at the tortured floor surface that was no where near flat , made my back hurt .

    No wonder they gave it an air mattress .

    Were these things bad mechanically ? .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      pdieten

      Typical GM of the time – 3.4 V6 intake manifold gasket failures, wheel bearing troubles, questionable interior electrics. Otherwise not the worst. Compare to the more popular Buick Rendezvous, which was mechanically nearly identical but not quite as hideous, and sold rather well in places where people would still buy Buicks.

    • 0 avatar
      BillWilliam

      I was just thinking the same thing ….that was a quick 14 years……Nate do you own a Metropolitan? My late mother in law owned one for ages……I have a Metropolitan Flat Rate Schedule Book ….that always amazes me with the optimistic repair times….

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Yes , I do ;

        A 1959 # 562 Fixed head Coupe .

        Flat Rates are always predicated on not doing a full job , plus on new cars only ~ not the average beater jalopy that rattles & wheezes it’s way into your Shop .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          Flat rate is also based on an average mechanic. An apprentice might take longer–even on a new, low mileage car without any rusty, stuck bolts–but an old hand might take half the time or even less.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Really, I thought the car was a pretty cool idea. The design wasn’t very attractive (although personally I don’t think it was as bad as all the “worst car ever” articles say it was), but it certainly better fit the aspirational lifestyle that people dream of when buying “rugged” CUV’s vs. most of the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Given all the hideous roaming the roads today, I find Aztecs to be pretty normal looking at this point. For some reason, the little car lot at the end of my road seems to really sell them. They always have at least 3 on the lot, and they rotate through pretty fast. And about 30 miles from me there is a shop that actually specializes in them! Weird.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I’m glad I don’t live somewhere where you are likely to have your car towed with two day notice due to flat tires on one side.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    I remember seeing a woman win one of these on television. When it was revealed what she’d won, the deflated look on her face was something that GM executives should have witnessed.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      I recall seeing Tiger Woods being presented with one of these when it was first launched, and his saying, “Wow… this thing is wild!”. I was impressed with his ability to fulfill his contractual obligations while retaining a degree of credibility.

  • avatar
    jaydez

    My condo complex uses the same parking tags! We picked those because they are the biggest pain in the ass to get off. People stop breaking the rules when it takes them a long time to correct their actions.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      And then they silently hate you, which may not be a good long term customer retention strategy.

      One of the reasons I bought a house was to get the hell away from attitudes like yours. And I was one of the good tenants who paid his rent on time and played by the rules!

      Good riddance to renting. One of the reasons my 20s sucked.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        I wish my apartment complex would use these stickers when the lazy people park reeeeally crooked or park over the painted lines. But that is just my pet peeve.

      • 0 avatar
        Synchromesh

        @Luke42: It’s funny you say that. I used to own an apartment and it was probably the single worst decision I ever made in my life. It was a complete money pit when it came to mortgage, the condo association were complete idiots and my place got robbed. On top of that when 2007 RE bubble burst the values went through the floor and I barely got rid of it in 2013 after being forced to live in that hell hole for several more years than I wished. After that you couldn’t pay me to buy a place.

  • avatar
    rmmartel

    Hated these when they came out. Felt the took the worst of an SUV and the worst of a minivan and put them together. I keep seeing them all over the place (still) in NE Ohio.

    For whatever odd reason I’ve warmed to them and likely take one if the price seemed reasonable (but I’d still rather have a nice, easy to fix Chevette at this point – Must be the pain of the cost of recent expensive repairs on current cars which I was unable to perform for myself.)

    Late model year w/ less of the awful cladding, with a HUD. Love having a car with a HUD.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      Any car I’ve been in that has a HUD usually goes reasonably fast. I presumed the idea was that you should focus on the road and not the speedo when putting the hammer down.
      Not sure what the point is in this car.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Ever since owning a 1993 Nissan Altima that had HUD, I’ve felt that it should be an available feature on all cars. Sadly, it’s offered on few (IF it’s still offered on any, I’m not aware…)

      • 0 avatar
        Car Ramrod

        We looked at a used ’09 Acadia with HUD. Kind of neat, but would it have killed GM to include better graphics than a TI-99? I still cant decide if the super low-res tach rendering was awesome or sad.

    • 0 avatar

      There are a few HUD apps for your phone. Throw it under the windshield and they’re set up to reflect back.

    • 0 avatar
      OliverTwist

      I hired a 2013 BMW 525d xDrive Touring for a short road trip through the northeastern Germany to see my mum’s ancestral home. No, for the love of God, it was not brown and had no manual gearbox!

      This car was the first one I had driven with HUD. I loved everything that this car had and more, including the torquey 2-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel motor.

      Anyway, I was totally sold on HUD technology, including its automatic recognition of speed limit sign and adjustment to the cruise control. I could relax and enjoy the scenery.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Wow, that didn’t take long! Went from uglying up the landscape to uglying up the junkyard in only 14 years.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I remember the marketing push for these things was enormous at the time, culminating with the Survivor giveaway. How disappointing it must have been to spend all that money for proportionally low sales.

  • avatar
    El duce

    I wonder what went wrong to land it in the junkyard. Head gasket, maybe?

    • 0 avatar
      greaseyknight

      Quite possible that it was a headgasket or lower intake manifold gasket that caused its demise as 3400’s are know for both of those issues. Once that happened, the owner didn’t have the funds to repair and let the car sit until the tires went flat. Owner couldn’t get it to a gas station to inflate the tires and just gave up when it got towed.

    • 0 avatar
      pdieten

      It’s an early-2000s GM. Death by a thousand cuts.

      Leaking intake manifold gasket is several hundred to fix. If there are other things wrong with it, you might need $2K+ to restore that thing to reliable operation, and is it worth sticking that money into something that’s apparently easily replaced?

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      My bet’s on a head/intake gasket failure that caused hydrolock (by pulling coolant into the top end of the motor) and eventually a seized junk engine.

      That’s what happened to mom’s N-body Cutlass.

  • avatar
    John

    Poor Aztek was ahead of it’s time. If it had come out ten year later, after the Great Recession, we’d have a lot of happy jobless campers listening to their Pioneer premium audio systems whilst living in their vans down by the river.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      John, I realize you’re being ironic, but I agree with you in the sense that since the Aztek there have been other notably ugly vehicles that haven’t gotten the heat that the Aztek did. Examples: Honda Element, Nissan Juke & Cube. I think nowadays, with no gray cladding and perhaps a few design tweaks here and there, it would have done OK (assuming Pontiac still existed).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        There is a GM bias which doesn’t affect the Japanese Three, they can do the exact same stupid things and they are hailed with praise.

      • 0 avatar
        mechaman

        Amen to you both. All this talk about how the Aztek was a big fail doesn’t seem to bug a LOT of buyers here in Chi, because you will see them EVERYWHERE. And they are not blue smoke spitting rust buckets. Betting GM built ’em better than folks expected .. just wish I could take a survey on what the owners think of ’em.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Ford must have been thrilled when GM came out with these, at long last the Edsel had been replaced as the most WTF loser car in the minds of Americans

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Murilee, you have to go to the yards with those air fresheners in hand. Do they really appear that much in the wild? I need to start looking at cars on the road (WalMart parking lots) to see if they are in mobile cars.

    It’s so strange to see such a highly optioned car of any sort in the yard without major physical damage. I sincerely hope the tires aren’t the only things that ended this thing’s life.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    I still wonder if Breaking Bad helped these at all on the used market. If i was looking for an all-purpose CUV on the cheap I’d definitely consider trying to find one.

    I lump it into the same category as the Flex: Cool concept, great functionality, but too ugly/polarizing for actual mass market appeal.

    I know, I know, everyone here likes the Flex. I do too, but my wife and almost every other woman I’ve asked about it hates the way they look and say they wouldn’t drive one. Anecdotes are not data, but take it for what its worth.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      Anecdotal maybe, but my wife hated it too. Tried to get her into one five years ago, couldn’t do it. Tried it again last month with the newer design and still can’t do it.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      “I still wonder if Breaking Bad helped these at all on the used market.”

      The only way that used Aztecs would increase in value is if there’s a bag of blue Meth under the seat that someone could cash in on.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      On Breaking Bad the Aztec was a prop used to demonstrate how empty and meaningless Walter White’s life had become: it was so bad he was reduced to driving a beige Aztec. I can’t imagine that is something anybody would want to emulate.

      Once Walter White became more, er, successful he ditched the Aztec for a tricked out Chrysler 300 & a Challenger (both SRT8’s) for his son.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      The weird thing there, in my mind (or maybe my family) is that my parents are contemplating a mid-size SUV … and my mom liked the Flex.

      My dad, however, nixed it on aesthetics.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      I seriously looked at one (and a Rendezvous) before settling on my Kia Sedona. Lack of a completely flat floor was the only thing that took it out of the running.

      And yeah, I kinda like them. I also like small Citroens, Saab Sonnets and pre-53, post WWII Studebakers.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My paternal uncle had a Rendezvous as the family vehicle for quite a few years. He loved his but then again it did replace a 1995 Ford Windstar that I swear had every moving part replaced on it at least once.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The problem with the Aztek is its profile combines the back of a hatchback with the front of a minivan. Two vehicle categories with negative images. Add in plastic cladding and a strange front fascia to amplify the ugly. In contrast, the Flex isn’t inherently poorly proportioned, at least to men, but Ford discovered women hold veto power over family vehicles like the Flex.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    The plasti-dash and cladding over cladding styling just kill this thing. The Bonneville of this era was a good looking car but overly cladded and plasti-dashed. I would like to think that time makes this more appealing, but it doesnt!! I just noticed, did the Juke steal the high brow light arrangement from the ol’ Aztek?

  • avatar
    ChiefPontiaxe

    I rented a new school bus-yellow 2001 Aztek in Orlando. It had a well thought out interior and drove pretty well, but was just so ugly. A friend wrote in the back window dirt: “don’t laugh- it’s a rental”

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Grandma (now passed 80 and in assisted living) has one of these in silver, FWD, matching grey leather. It has been alright for her, the higher seating and being able to slide on and off the seat has helped.

    She’s a GM widow so the trade in of her beak nosed V6 Skylark for the Aztek netted her quite a deal.

    My Dad (her son in law) takes it out on the highway periodically to make sure that it is getting more than just grocery runs under its tires.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      WOW she drove a Skylark and now an Aztek? Two of the ugliest vehicles known to man? In fact I think the Skylark is even uglier. The Aztek is only ugly because its a micro-van hiding under a fake SUV butched up body. But those mid 90s Skylarks… my eyes they burn!

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Both of them were more reliable than her 1985 Celebrity Coupe with the V6. That featured a front licence plate that said “Foxy Grandma”.

        Honestly I think she still misses her 1979 Oldsmobile 98 sedan with the 403 V8. It was the first car she bought after my Grandfather died (cancer took him young) and she got pulled over a few times for testing out the acceleration of that big V8!

      • 0 avatar
        Liger

        I agree. The skylark with it’s pointed front and rear end (before the restyle) was incredibly ugly. George Castanza drove a ugly skylark.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          As a former owner of a beaky ‘Lark, I liked it from the side and from the rear (the back end was effectively the Roadmaster sedan rear scaled down), but the front end just looked goofy and there was a general proportion issue going on.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I remember when they came out, I thought it was the ugliest car ever, but that was before a lot of other SUV-CUVs came out that were uglier. The cheap interior was off-putting, but with a better interior and with a powertrain change to the 3.6-liter/6-speed combo The Aztek could have had a few more years of life as a niche vehicle. The Aztek depreciated like a rock initially, but after it was discontinued, the depreciation stabilized, as a core group of users created enough demand to keep the price up. I tried to help a friend find one at a bargain price, and I never found one that was lower as a % of initial price than a typical vehicle.

  • avatar
    HenrySmith12

    You can find some great stuff at junkyards and scrap car yards if you’re patient enough to sift through a lot. http://www.junkcarbuyerskalamazoo.com it’s also becoming more popular to sell old junk or beat up cars for cash to scrap yards so that they can use the metal.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the versatility of the Aztek seems unquestionable. People I know that owned them loved them and were sad when the bean-counter engineering bits began to fail.

    Another miss by GM to take a decent concept and turn it into something great.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I have not heard the same compliments about the cousin Rendezvous.

      • 0 avatar
        ixim

        Rendezvous! The footprint of a contemporary Camry with the cargo space of a Tahoe. Seven real seats. 30 real world mpg hwy. Great in the snow. Mid sized SUVs take note.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          So it was a slightly less-useful minivan pretending to not be a minivan? That IS the definition of a minivan.

          I had a rental Rendezvous that I drove all the way across the upper Midwest from the UP to Montana doing upgrade work for my previous employer over two weeks. It was a steaming pile of ‘meh’. It was better looking than it’s sibling, in a prettiest girl in the leper colony sort of way.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        That’s because the Rendevous was not even close to being as hideous as the Aztek.

        • 0 avatar
          Liger

          I flew into Detroit Wayne airport in 2006 and rented a car from National. All they had available on the emerald aisle were brand new Buick Rendezvous. I got a Rendezvous with 1 mile on the odometer. When I was checking out the car at the gate, the rental agent asked “aren’t you excited to have a brand new car for a rental, that nobody has ever driven”? I was like, “not really it’s a shitty base Rendezvous”.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    You know what bothers me? The font of the VERSATRAK logo. The A letter has the open portion in the opposite direction to the A on the C-pillar, and on the Aztek name on the lower cladding and the other side of the tailgate.

    It should match.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The Aztek in its natural habitat.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The fuel filler and body cladding seem to have been inspired by a Porta Potty.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    Not mentioned is the legal system that allows tow companies to remove private parked vehicles and apply for ownership. It’s possible that the owner is innocent of any wrong doing, and lost their Aztek through this legalized theft.

  • avatar

    Its not just a car; its a tent on wheels! First, I had to find a Pontiac dealership – which wasn’t easy – then I told them I wanted to buy an Aztek. Then I paid them $400.

    https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=wvJLvkyZvaw

    Anyone, I sold a bunch of these back ~2008-2010. They were so cheap to buy wholesale – like an ’03/04 w/70k miles was $4500. Every one of them went to an interesting person. The more memorable ones…

    The first one I sold was a maroon ’05 base FWD w/108k. It was like my 7th vehicle I ever sold. A Liberian couple literally fresh off the boat with a temporary Florida license and $6000 cash. No one else wanted to talk to them, but I took the up and showed them the Aztek. They literally loved it. The wife said it reminded her of the Pumba from the Lion King. They bought it, drove away, and came back an hour later with their friends to ask me what kind of car they bought. They didn’t even know what it was called. This was in 2008 and the last time I saw the vehicle was about two years ago in St. Pete – identifiable by a giant crossed Liberian/US flag decal on the back.

    The second one was a blue ’01 Aztek sold to an 18 year-old girl for her first car. Apparently, she had wanted an Aztek since she was like 12. You figure that one out.

    The third one was a white ’03 Aztek w/Versatrak and the camping kit…remember that part. Financed to a couple up in Hudson in Pasco County. This was traded back into us on an ’06 Santa Fe Limited and financed to some scumback toothless ‘I werk fer muhself aint got no paystubs *spit*’ 25 year-old guy who had to put it in his cousin/wife’s (seriously) name due to his lack of a driver’s license. This one was notable for being seen constantly pulled over by the Pasco Sheriff’s Office or FHP. It was impounded three times and I know this because we had buy-here-pay-here’d this to the couple and upon not being able to get ahold of them, the authorities contacted us. This Aztek was also nearly famous on the local news because the guy’s wife was arrested for prostitution and was turning tricks in the back of it. It ended up catching fire and burning to the ground off Old Dixie Highway, an old rutted mostly dirt/mud road.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Here in the Great White North a rust free car with a good interior is worth buying and having a rebuilt engine installed.

    Is it my imagination or from some angles does the Pontiac Vibe not look like an Aztec that has been put in the dryer for too long and shrunk?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    THANK YOU Flybrain ! .

    You just made my day =8-) .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      Flybrain lol!

      Actually, I think anyone who’s had a career in sales for thirty years or so will have a fund of great stories to tell. My wife was a Realtor for 32 years, and we made lifelong friends of some of her customers.

      On the Aztek, as ugly as those things are, they don’t seem to be deliberately styled to be ugly like the Honda Element was, particularly the first examples with all the gray plastic. There’s no way they couldn’t have made it look better and still be as functional.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    “Let the record show the witness has identified the Defendant, Thomas S. Henderson, as the man who arranged for the purchase and distribution of the illegal narcotics at all times in question.”

    ****************************************

    Marco breathed deeply, slowing his racing heart as he turned his back to the armed, silent men and walked out of Apartment #3B, relieved of his backpack that would have sent him to prison for the better part of a decade if the cops found it. “I need a real job before this sh** gets me arrested or killed,” Marco thought once he rounded the corner and left their line-of-sight. Walking to the other side of the Grand Catalina apartment complex to meet a Denver County Taxi Commission approved Taurus, Marco felt oddly sad about leaving the one car he actually liked for the scrapyard.

    Marco’s journey from upper-middle-class flake to drug runner wasn’t supposed to happen. “I should have listened to dad,” he thought. Following his friends from Indiana to CU-Boulder for the skiing, pot, and girls ultimately led him to this point. Marco’s professional parents, and his live-in Spanish-speaking Abuela all had high hopes that Marco would be a Wall Street financial analyst given his ability to ace every math class and Advanced Placement exam he took. Marco’s father gently pressured him to look at the high-quality in-state business schools that would cost Marco nothing due to his excellent academic record and the resulting scholarships. But Marco refused, instead choosing to drop $50,000/year to get out of the Midwest.

    College was a wake-up call in the wrong way. Marco’s wealthier high school friends spent every weekend on the slopes, bought the latest snowboarding equipment and racked up huge bar tabs. Trying to keep pace and wanting to live in the newest luxury student housing, Marco rapidly depleted his fairly substantial college fund. With an older sister in college and his younger brother about to start private high school, his parents simply didn’t have the cash flow to pay his bills. UC-Boulder’s financial aid office was more than happy to sign him up for every loan source available, and soon Marco’s checking account was flush once more.

    Second semester freshman year, Marco told his finance case study team “I’m done” as the clock ticked past 10pm on a Friday night. “I’m dropping this class. Good luck with the analysis.” Monday, Marco sauntered into the advisor’s office, carried out his promise, dropping every difficult class he had and changing his major to Latin American Literature. Being bilingual and having a grandmother who would read him 100 Years of Solitude as a bedtime story meant little real work was required. Marco almost shouted “More time for play!” once his ‘advisor’ clicked the necessary buttons on her computer screen.

    Five years later, Marco stood up in a marijuana induced daze when the Literature department graduates were called at commencement. Marco had no job, no ambition, and with a C average in a fairly useless major, no prospects. When their leases finally expired, Marco’s friends either went to grad school or returned home to feathered nests, leaving Marco to deal with the reality of a $200,000 debt.

    “$9.40 an hour?!?” Marco said just before storming out of an interview with a small Spanish-language publishing company and terminating his last chance real of receiving a W-2.

    “I know people,” he thought. While pot was legal, the pills and even a bit of blow he used weren’t, and Marco was a frequent customer of the larger suppliers on campus. “Tommy, I’m not working for Wal-Mart pay behind a desk,” Marco told his long-time hook-up. “I’m always short on supply,” said Tommy. “You know stuff comes from California, and you can blend in there better than I.”

    Marco soon learned Tommy was a screen for a larger organization and mainly handled logistics and low-risk campus sales. Tommy never let his mules use the same car for more than a month, titled it in the mule’s name, and always made sure the cars were clean, mechanically sound, and unremarkable in every way. Tommy’s mules were cultured, educated, and clean-cut.

    “Really? Am I Walter White?” Marco asked Tommy when he saw the red Aztec parked behind Tommy’s rented bungalow. “This thing screams mediocrity – no one will suspect a thing. It’s cheap enough for a recent grad to be driving. It’s clean inside and out and doesn’t look like a wreck. There are no hidden compartments. No wheels will fall off and no lights are out. Marco, it will disappear on the highway.” “Tommy, I swore in high school that I’d have to be at rock-bottom before I drove one of these.”

    The next morning, Marco piloted the Aztec titled in his name down I-70 to Los Angeles to meet Tommy’s contact in LA.

    Marco made the drive in far less comfortable vehicles before, and the Aztec was a substantial improvement over the no-cruise-control Hyundai Accent hatch with no AC from his last trip. With a surprisingly decent Pioneer sound system (with sub!) and quick-shifting 4-speed automatic to make easy work of the mountains, Marco thought the Aztec could grow on him. “If only someone would pay me enough to live and give me the chance to prove myself” Marco thought, “I could walk away from this life.”

    After picking up an unusually large backpack full of Schedule II narcotics from a new contact in LA, Marco hit the road. He wasn’t nervous. He’d done this before and had enough stuff in his car to support his story he was heading home after visiting family in LA. He wore a collared shirt and leather shoes, didn’t stink, drove within 5 mph of the speed limit, and didn’t drive late into the night.

    As he pulled into the Grand Catalina apartments and made his delivery, Marco felt bad about sending the Aztec to the crusher – after 2,000 miles, GM’s tortured yet advanced minivan-based crossover really grew on him.

    Marco had to leave the Aztec in the Grand Catalina’s parking lot to be towed after a few weeks and ultimately crushed. Marco and Tommy both knew this was the easiest way to make a vehicle disappear with no questions asked, and the Aztec served its purpose well. The $4,000 Tommy spent on transportation each month was nothing compared to the value of the deliveries.

    In the back of the cab, Marco finally breathed deeply and sunk into the stained seat. He didn’t see the Tahoe following close behind. The chirp of a siren and slowing cab told him something was very, very wrong. Two DEA agents approached the back seat of the cab. “Marco Perez, please step out of the vehicle.”

    In the interview room, DEA agents laid out their overwhelming case against him and gleefully informed him the person he met in LA was an undercover agent. “We can play video of your entire drive back to Denver if you want. How’d you like that BBQ sandwich you had in Mesquite?”

    “Do you want to make a deal?”

  • avatar

    I’m sure there are a few people from Flint with plastichrome “A”s on their cube walls who look at the Juke, BMW X6 and 4, Lexus RX and just sigh listfully.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I was brought into a focus group for the Pontiac Aztek. My response – for the love of God please don’t build this. My view was it shared a lot of characteristics of a lobster. If you could get past the hideous shell inside was a lot of space with delicious sweet things to be found. There was, on the interior, a lot of really good ideas – but good Lord how do you get past the outside.

    A 2001 model with the 3.4L V6 – I’m going to guess this was a Dexcool victim and the headgaskets are shot. Shame – otherwise looks pretty restorable but alas there simply is no value.

    Hard to think that a 21st century car can be FOURTEEN YEARS OLD NOW!

    (time to go look for liver spots)

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I was living in Detroit (2000 to 2002) when the Aztek was in its heyday. You would see them often because at that point GM executives were being forced to take them as company cars. The thinking inside GM was that getting more of them on the highways would make them seem more “normal.”

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Some were probably forced, but other probably just couldn’t turn the deal down. I know that Ford execs, during Carmageddon and $4 gas, ended up leasing Navigators and Expeditions for 1/2 off their previous discounted rate. My GTI payment (375/mo at .5%) was more than a Navigator payment for some people.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    Is that a 3400 and a 4T65-E combo? What could go wrong?

  • avatar
    carve

    Does anybody remember the Aztek concept car? It was actually pretty decent looking. Then it was heavily compromised to fit on a minivan chassis on a cheap budget. What was the point? It seems to combine all the ruggedness and road manners of a minivan with the interior of a large hatchback. The only “advantage” was looks, and they were awful. On the bright side, like the Edsel before it, it won’t be long until there aren’t many on the road. I’ll be they’ll be quite collectable in 15-20 years.

    • 0 avatar
      mechaman

      Having photoe’d it at the Chi Auto Show, I sure do remember what it looked like in concept .. a lot of people gave it an admiring look. Then GM made it too big. Imagine if it had been, say, Vibe size ..

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The issue was they didn’t have a suitable platform to make the production version true to the concepts form. I understand from one of the product managers at the time and they were told to “make it work” with the U body minivan platform and then the finger pointing began when the result ended up like what you see here. Pride and refusal to admit failure forced it to market.

  • avatar
    Ptrott

    They are still being built and sold today by FCA…its now called CHEROKEE lol
    And ill bet in 14 years you will have a Cherokee in the junkyard find as well. 9 speeds of trouble lol

  • avatar
    CAMeyer

    To focus on the appearance of these vehicles, as ugly as they were, is to overlook how they drove, which was…even uglier. I had one of these as a rental a good ten years ago, and I still remember it. It was the automotive equivalent of wearing a fat suit, with barge-like acceleration, schoolbus-like handling, and tractor trailer-like braking. It did provide “driving excitement,” though. On every highway ramp, I thought the thing was going to tip over, and when I hit the brakes,I thought it wouldn’t stop until it slammed into whatever was 100 feet ahead.

  • avatar

    This one made it to 316,000 miles…

    http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/540/DvgZ7H.jpg
    http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/631/pQ0ZKm.jpg

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Let’s give the Aztek a little credit: it was the first CUV that didn’t look exactly like every other CUV.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Does anybody know if those HUDs had a collimator, or was the image focused somewhere near the driver’s eyes?

  • avatar
    blueflame6

    I very much like the idea behind the Aztek but GM really, really botched the implementation. There’s a market for this sort of thing, a vehicle emphasizing utility for outdoor activities, but it’s a small market and I’m not sure the volume is there. The Honda Element might be the most successful of the genre and you’ll not that it isn’t for sale anymore either.

  • avatar
    Minnesota Nice

    Its interesting to see the Minnesota Wild logo on the car. Looks like the car was relocated at some point.

    If it was a Minnesota car, I’m blown away at how well it held up. Our winters are brutal.

  • avatar

    The Rendevous was actually quite attractive.

    I wonder how the actual breaking bad Aztec would do at an auction. I think it would be neat to own this ugly prop.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The Rendezvous was very attractive. Catchy name, boldly displayed on the doors. Then France went on our SH!TLIST and the RENDEZVOUS lettering came off the doors.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Oh Buick and their French naming. Lacrosse anyone? The first gen model was sold as the Allure in Canada because of the French Canadian slang term that already occupied the word. Though, it doesn’t seem to matter now as the current model is called Lacrosse in all of North America.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    I wonder how long that Aztek has been in the wrecking yard–it seems odd for such a (relatively) late-model vehicle to not yet have any major parts taken.

    Also, does anyone have a guess as to how they managed to put it in neutral without the key?

  • avatar
    SC5door

    An old neighbor of mine bought sometime in 2002-2003. The dealer couldn’t give those things away, so when she walked in and WANTED one they did everything possible, including giving her the value of her trade off the deal and let her take the old car home. I remember her BF at the time saying in all they got like 12K off MSRP. (The trade was worth $1k at most) She sold the old car by owner and kept that money.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I guess we should start seeing some Dodge Calibers make their way to wrecking yards eh. auto recycling centers soon. It is also ranked one of the worst vehicles of the 2000’s right up there with the Aztek. Not only was its quality subpar but Chrysler never knew how to market it. Compact replacement for the Neon? 5-door hatch? CUV? Entry CUV?

  • avatar
    Garagezone

    I owned a 2004 Aztek for about 5 years. Was WONDERFUL the first 3, then the thermostat needed replacing… and with the engine sitting so far back under the cowl… it was frakkin IMPOSSIBLE to do… took a feat of superhuman determination to change the frakkin Thermostat!

    Then the Manifold gasket. Front Wheel Bearings. The Rear Diff-Versatrak nightmare of groaning around corners… $400 fluid changes and still groaning. After 4 years it had loosened up and felt like a P.O.S. I traded it in on a xD. Do not regret trading it for a moment. Although the xD BORED the hell out of me and I’m driving a Mustang GT now… LoL.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Ah, the thermostat…it’s pretty much like that with all cars, unless that’s changed recently. I’ll never understand why they have to situate the thermostat in a way that you have to tear apart the whole car to replace it. Same with fuel pumps.

      My grandfather owned a 1990 Buick LeSabre…bank-vault quiet, until the A/C’s thermostat went bad and they had to disassemble the entire dash in order to install a replacement one. After that, the car was ruined…a rattletrap from hell. Nothing wrong with it otherwise, my grandpa had to get rid of it. Couldn’t stand the racket.

      • 0 avatar
        Garagezone

        I’m speaking of the Engine cooling system, the Thermostat I am speaking of is on top of the engine, but the V-6 is so far back and underneath the cowl of the car that it is nearly impossible to remove and replace it. The A/C thermostat in the DASH is a nightmare all in it’s own.

  • avatar
    mechaman

    Being a mechanic is a lot like being a school teacher. If you get the schedule-maintained cars/prepared and motivated kids, you have to really be a bust to fail. If you get the rattletrap junks/kids with wack family situations, you gotta be REALLY good to shine.


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