By on July 22, 2020

aztek

Surfing around the Twitter machine the other day, I saw a reference to the late, not-so-great Pontiac Aztek. It occurred to me that despite working in the service trenches at a Pontiac store for a summer, and despite once working alongside someone who owned an Aztek, I’m not sure I’ve ever driven one.

Which got me thinking – what normal, attainable car have I not driven? The same question applies to high-end (but not unobtanium) metal.

After all, I’ve driven a lot of cars, and not just because of this job. I spent a good chunk of my teens and 20s working various dealership service roles – from porter to greeter to service advisor – meaning that even before I fell ass-backwards into auto journalism, I had a chance to drive a variety of vehicles, even if on many occasions I never got out of second gear.

I mean, I even drove a Fiero once during my time at the Pontiac store.

There’s a whole bunch of older cars I’d love to have driven but never did. I don’t think I’ve ever piloted a Honda Element (pun intended). I can’t recall ever driving one of the retro T-Birds, or a Chrysler Crossfire. Heck, I’ve never driven a Dodge Viper on road, although I have on track and at Chrysler’s proving grounds in Michigan.

I’m not even sure I’ve driven a Porsche 911.

I ask you, B&B, what car would you like to have driven that you haven’t yet? I suspect many of you have driven a lot of cool and/or interesting stuff, whether it was a car you owned, or just test-drove, or something a neighbor or friend had and let you take a turn with.

For the purposes of this exercise, let’s keep it to relatively obtainable cars. High-end, six-figure cars are fine, but let’s avoid the exotics that even us journalists don’t often get a shot at (except those at the buffs). Rolls-Royces, Ferraris, that kind of thing. As for me, I’ve driven a Rolls just once, a Ferrari once, a Bentley a couple times, and a Lambo never.

Even better than focusing on ‘Vettes and Vipers, let’s hear from those of you who wanted to drive an Aztek or Element or PT Cruiser or HHR and never did.

Have at it, folks.

[Image: GM]

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31 Comments on “QOTD: The One That Got Away?...”


  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Tim, I’m with you on almost all of the cars you’ve listed. But I have driven a 911.

    On the matter of the Pontiac Aztek, I was among the media at the Detroit auto show when it was introduced.

    ”It’s hideous; it’s never going to sell,” I whispered to a GM PR guy I was friendly with.

    “I know,” he replied. “But by the time they realized it, it was too late to stop it.”

    The thing is, almost everyone who has owned or tested an Aztek has said the vehicles actually worked quite well. It’s a shame it was hamstrung with such looks.

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      A friend of mine had one as a loner when they were first released. Only 600 km on the odometer, and it was trashed. Suspension, trim, power amenities… even the engine sounded like it was trying to rip itself apart. The later examples may have been buttoned down, but the early ones definitely seemed rough.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Jeep Wrangler in the last 20 years, I hear they’re better drivers :) The old ones were ball-busters :(

  • avatar
    ajla

    Never driven a Tesla.
    Done a Bolt, Volt, 330e, Prius Prime, and Niro EV. But never anything from the most popular plug-in brand.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I’ve driven a P85 and a Model 3 Standard. They’re really quick, but I wasn’t fond of the center display on the 3, among other things.

      • 0 avatar
        statikboy

        I agree with your assessment of the Model 3. The drivetrain is, I’m sure , quite excellent in most ways. The center display is distracting and very difficult and annoying to work efficiently. The back seat is also extremely loud (tire noise) and rough-riding and, on a sunny day (even below freezing) incredibly hot because of the all-glass roof. The overall result is a car that feels less like it was engineered, rather like a bunch of “features” that were cobbled together in (granted, very sexy) car shape.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    This oughta be interesting .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    tylanner

    1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

    A spongy, heavy, underpowered, retired stunt car. I’d love to absolutely bomb driveways and rattle around the bench seat like a broken amusement park ride.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Fieros; now it would be the ultimate example, the 88 Fiero GT. It was a Car Lust object for me since before I got my permit.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Model-T depot hack or pick-up.
    (Really, anything from the 1910s.)
    :-)

  • avatar
    NigelShiftright

    The Aztek is a homely little comfort shoe of a car, but for overall attractiveness I don’t think it’s much worse than many modern “supercars”, which look like they were doodled by a nine year old after a full-day marathon of Transformers cartoons and sugar bombs cereal.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I have never driven a Golf/GTI or any kind of Porsche.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Never driven any rear engine vehicle, nor a Telsa.

    And despite the normal-ness of a Camry I’ve only been in one as rental. Never had a friends who drive one.

    My brother has a Boxster so mid-engine & Porsche is taken care of. As a part time HPDE instructor I’ve been in some very nice cars, including a Ferrari 458 Italia which only survived two sessions before a check engine light popped up.

    My problem is after driving several cars on track I know that any on-street experience is just so limiting it hardly counts. For example my opinion of my own 350Z changed massively after tracking it. And it changed again as I modified the car and learned to truly drive it.

    Your first impression is just a result of the immediate, standout differences… good or bad only becomes apparent with a more detailed and longer experience. It takes so much more then a quick spin around the block to really grasp a car’s true character. Plus time spoils everything, so car’s I thought were great in the 80s likely drive terrible in comparison to modern cars. However it would be fun to re-experience them and see how they hold up. Maybe that light weight, quick steering and less sound deading would be way more engaging and super fun today.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      So true. I’ve never tracked a car, but I’ve found that long-term ownership is either equal to or worse than first impressions.

    • 0 avatar
      MeJ

      @JMII
      Your last paragraph was so accurate. It does take more than a quick spin to really appreciate (or really not) all of a car’s nuances.
      I know for a fact that my old ’69 Firebird is probably a terrible car by most criteria, yet I always think of it with fond memories. Being younger when I owned it probably helped me gloss over the car’s inherent faults.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I’m not sure why a PT, HHR, Aztek or Element would be any more or less fantastic to drive than the typical minivan or CUV.

    Yeah if you’ve never driven a mid or rear engine, you should get on it.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I’ve never driven a first gen Acura NSX and I’d like to remedy that. On the other side, I’d like to drive an 80’s Escort or Tempo Diesel. I’ve never driven one of those crazy slow diesels and I’d like to just because.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      My parents were given an 82 Chevette Diesel circa 1986 (long story). Top speed was 75 mph, and partial throttle was not an option.

      It was a durable, entertaining little cockroach, and helped our family get through an economically tough time.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’ve never even ridden in a Miata, let alone drive one. And I’ve been considering an RF for my next purchase.

    I’ve also never driven a Tesla, I rode in a dual motor Model 3 and I was astounded by how fast it was. And I’ve driven some fast cars. I was offered ato drive it but I declined.

    And I haven’t driven the Land Ark in the last 4 years :-(

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ve driven a friend’s former 1970 911 – interesting, but not pleasant.

    The Crossfire was mentioned – I had to drive one about a mile between the two lots of a used car dealer. What a horrible car.

    I’ve never driven a Volvo, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, M-B, or RAM, to name a few. As for individual car models, I’d like to try a Challenger, but they have too little headroom for me to even consider owning.

    The only Jeeps I’ve driven were a ~74 CJ and a 15 Renegade.

    One of the most memorable cars I’ve driven is my SIL’s Honda S2000 with its 9000 rpm redline. I can’t sit in it for more than a short run, but what a thrill.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    A Corvair.

    Enough said.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Chrysler GT Cruiser

    Either a Corvair or Beetle (my air cooled experience is limited to 2 wheels)

    C4 Corvette – that was the Vette of my formative/childhood years

    Big block sedan from the late 60s early 70s. Preferably a Chrysler since they were supposed to have tighter suspensions.

  • avatar

    Ready to pilot a Plymouth Superbird down the super-slab.

  • avatar
    MeJ

    Two car’s I would like to drive, but haven’t )yet) are the Porsche 911 and a Miata.
    The Miata intrigues me because of the almost universal love it get’s. The reason I haven’t driven (or bought) one is because of my size (big) and the Miata’s size (very small). I always thought I’d look rather silly in such a small car.
    And the 911 because e of the same appeal, just on a bigger scale.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I figured it for a chick car, but one spin around the block in a 1st gen MR2 and I immediately bought one. Two of the 3 friends I let borrow it, also bought one. Working at busy dealerships in the era gave me seat-time in most everything (common).

      I drove one Fox 5.0 notch/coupe and soon got one too. Same thing with an SVO.

      All were 5-speeds and the SVO was stick (Tremec) only.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    I rented a car for a week, and it was an Aztek. Don’t let anyone tell you it was okay to drive. It was a wallowing, numb piece of crap that steered so sloppily I had all I could do to keep it within the lane lines on a 45 mph two-laner.

    It did have plenty of room because it was built on a chopped-wheelbase version of the Dustbuster minivan chassis, but that’s an exhaustive list of its virtues. That’s also why it was so ugly. It got approval based on a show car that looked better, but then GM did its usual cheapout thing and demanded its proportions be hideously distorted so they could build it off an existing platform, and the tall skinny minivan was the closest they had. You can’t make up this stuff.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I was kind of lusty for an S2000 when it came out, but I was too young and didn’t have money to buy one. Now I’d guess that they’re all relatively abused and have been put away wet.

    I’ve also been itching to get my hands on a Challenger, pentastar is fine, manual preferred. The closest I came was the 300 I had for awhile, but I guess I want a fat coupe.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Mainstream models? I’ve never driven a Mazda or a Subaru and only drove one Toyota sedan. Only Dodge/Chrysler I’ve driven was a rental or a borrow from my sister-in-law. I’ve never driven a F150, Dodge Ram, and only a short test drive in an old Silverado.

    No Porsche either, or Mercedes or Audi or Lexus or Acura. I’ve driven BMWs and, by extension, several MINIs. I fell in love with the MINI handling but not the constant quality and reliability issues.

    I grew up as GM guy but now would only buy the Corvette. Another car I’ve never driven but only ridden in.

    I would like to test drive a Tesla before I buy one.

  • avatar
    stevied

    Peugeot 505. Dealer did the eyeball test on me and wouldn’t let me do a test drive because it was “drizzling”. So I blew the budget on three Saab 900 instead. The good ole days, being a buyer for the company fleet and the prez saying “we need to standout, be different, get something other than those boring Fords and Chevys you normally buy”. Next quarter bought the first Toyota and from that day we never bought any other brand.

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