Feb 27, 2020

Aztek is not from Pontiac

Jeffrey Chin

ou might know all about the Aztek design from Pontiac, but did you know that the original design was not from Pontiac? That’s right; the insane 1988 Italdesign Aztek Barchetta is a Giugiaro-penned concept car, made by the German designer.

Aztek by Pontiac

Original Italdesign Aztec Barchetta design

Giorgetto Giugiaro only made a handful of this irregular-looking vehicle. The car design contained many mind-blowing futurism concepts that the Pontiac Aztek would see in the future. This relic is absurd for many reasons, especially the design choices Giugiaro made. We could talk about the split driver and passenger seats, or the removable clear roof panels, housed behind jet-fighter cockpits. This car’s design definitely took a lot of planning. For instance, even entering the vehicle takes a detailed and weird process.

Pontiac Aztek should have been more like this!

To enter the car, you would have to input a three-digit code on the door panel, after which the cooktop panel lifts. A conventional door still gets you into the car, but you would need your code buttons to open up other parts or perform other functions. You don’t have to rack your brain, though, because there’s a cheat sheet on each side of a car that shows what code works for what. Cool, right?

Aztek inspiration for Pontiac

At the steering wheel, the driver meets a long organic gauge pod, and his steering wheel has an unexpected asymmetrical shape. He also gets a light-up panel, providing a heads-up display that reflects off the canopy. But the driver is not the only one who gets to have all the fun. The passenger’s side has a faux steering wheel, which is really a grabber handle, with a rally computer behind it. In between them, you’ll see the shifter for the five-speed manual transmission and a set of ‘80s stereo equipment.


Inside the vehicle’s mechanics, the transmission is joined to a 2.2 liter turbocharged inline-five Audi engine. Audi puts the engine as a 247 horsepower, with 266-pound feet of torque. But it gets even better. The engine is mounted in the middle – transversely, which is different from the usual way an Audi will install the same engine; longitudinal and in front.

If only the Pontiac Aztek had this interior

The four-wheel-drive car has some fantastic exterior styling choices. Check out the detailing on each side — which is enough to hide hydraulics or even electronics. They also house visible engine boost gauges! Most designers will not even think of this, but we’re glad Giugiaro did. There’s also the impressive hydraulic jack system underneath the vehicle, and the huge skirts located over each wheel. It is truly a marvelous design.

Pontiac Aztek traces it roots back to this car

Drive this car to any automotive event or just for the fun of it, and you will be the center of attention! Certainly, the rare Aztec is a gorgeously designed machine every car collector should want to own. You can buy yours here!

Whether your a fan of the original design or looking for your very own Pontiac Aztek, you can’t help but love the rich history of this car.

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