We took your feedback and made this happen. Chip Foose can tackle any flawed design and improve it, and the Pontiac Aztek was universally ridiculed for good reason. The original concept car from 1999 certainly had merit, but all the intended energy and presence went down the drain when the concept met the “hard points” of GM’s U-body minivan platform.  A cool Pontiac SUV based on a Pontiac Montana?  Good luck with that: The end result was offensive to most eyes, ill-proportioned, and its plastic clad body was so ungainly that a mid-cycle exterior refresh happened in the second year of production … nearly unheard of in the car design business.

Luckily, Chip Foose is a man with a plan. Starting with the side view of a fully-plasticized 2001 Aztek, Chip lays down the basic lines to work with the original U-body platform. He creates a sharp rake from front to back, a strong lower valence with large, round fog lights, a lower DLO (daylight opening) for the door glass, adds wraparound quarter window glass, and lowers the side cladding so the painted body reaches the wheel arches.  These changes help the Aztek look significantly different from its U-body minivan brethren, more like the 1999 concept’s design.

Chip then adds the concept’s “fast” hood and fender lines (which meet the side view mirror) and creates prominent body side streaks that were neutered on the production version. The headlights and grille are then designed to flow with the new hood. Finally Chip aggressively shortens the front overhang and slightly pushes the front wheels forward: while it looks sleeker and more like a BMW SUV, this would also improve off-road performance in terms of approach angles on steep hills.

Chip’s second rendering adjusts the Aztek’s stance so it looks less like a street car and has the stance of an off-road worthy CUV. (Don’t snicker, those CUV-based Jeeps do OK when pavement turns into dirt and rocks.) Also note how the curved door cutlines aren’t nearly as minivan slab-sided as the production version. The third rendering transfers the design, adds an aggressive wheel/tire package, and yellow paint with anthracite plastic cladding.

Chip wanted to “add passion” back to the Pontiac Aztek.  We think he nailed it; what say you?

This episode is presented by PEP BOYS: For over 100 years, we’ve been under the hood, finding better ways to care for cars and the communities that drive them. We provide expert service, letting our passion for automobiles take the wheel. Stop by your local Pep Boys Auto Service and Tires store and experience the Pep Boys Difference.

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