Our resident mad scientist, Jason Torchinsky, knows a thing or two about taillights. His love for these plastic-clad bulbs goes beyond that of the average bulb-lover, and, look, I get it! Taillights are important details to a car’s overall design that Jason cares very much about.
This prompts the question: What is a car detail only you seem to care about?
It doesn’t have to be design related; it can be mechanical or historical, whatever. Believe it or not, I have a soft spot for the Pontiac Aztek for a number of reasons, but specifically for one (I think) cool detail. No, it’s not the awesome, intentionally misspelled name. It’s the tent!
The integrated tent in the Aztek almost redeemed the poor thing, if you ask me. Let me repeat: almost! It’s still very much a car that had a lot wrong with it, but it was also somewhat ahead of its time. In retrospect, the Aztek is much more than the butt of a few jokes. It was also the harbinger of crossovers to come.
It wasn’t really an SUV, but not quite a car. It was something in the middle, an early cross between the two. In that sense, it was the perfect car for so-called active drivers and I remember Pontiac leaned heavily into this angle in its ads. Besides the tent, Pontiac even touted the Aztek’s off-road bona fides in its ads. I was an impressionable kid, prone to cheesy advertisements and slick marketing.
The Aztek had a pretty good marketing campaign because I still remember it today, and the part I remember most is that awesome built-in tent. Pontiac, (more like Pontiak) finally said what child-me was already thinking. A car is pretty much like a tent on wheels! I mean, isn’t that kind of the point of overlanding? The Aztek just pushed that to its logical conclusion with its tent.
I never actually saw one of these tents in real life. It’s very possible it was just an urban myth that Pontiac propagated in order to sell the Aztek to impressionable outdoorsy couples. But I still think it’s a neat detail from the doomed Pontiac Aztek. How about you? What’s a cool or clever car detail that you care about?