A Red Aztek, Underwear and Lizards
Aztec; Interesting culture, boring car
When you hear the word Aztec, you think of a beautiful, ancient and powerful civilization ripe with culture and riches.
When you hear the name Pontiac Aztek, you can’t help but think of a fugly old wheezing heap ripe with PBR cans and someone’s stained underwear. GM should’ve named this snot rocket the ”Atlantian” because, quite frankly, I think this is what sank Pontiac. Well, this and the “GTO” that looked like Mork from Ork’s daily driver. But I digress.
Would you bring a Ziplock bag full of small meatballs into Sven Johnson’s house and expect him not to eat them?
I’m turning this Aztek into an adventure vehicle. I’ll start by grafting on the rear end of a Pontiac Torrent. Why a Torrent? So it stays as Pontiac as it can because it’s in for a massive identity crisis when I pick the running gear. And it needs a solid rear deck lid. Why a solid rear deck lid and not the chiffon they call a tent it came with?
Because we are constantly being told not to feed the bears.
Don’t be rude, don’t eat Asparagus
Until bears start using lock picks or bump keys, I feel safer not being in the equivalent of a sandwich bag. Now that we have a hard shell rear end, the spare tire mount and ladder can be affixed to the rear hatch. A short climb up that ladder will gain you access to the safari rack, upon which, is mounted L.E.D. flood lights fore and aft. This safari rack is a great place to store gear, to sit in a deck chair or gently urinate on passing wildlife. It is also a great place for a rotating turret with twin .50-cals. If one of the passing wildlife happens to be a tweaking Alvin the chipmunk or a Yeti having a bad hair day.
Make friends with a fry cook
To motivate our most adventurous of vehicles, I’m going with Jeep. The 1969 through 1991 full size Jeep Wagoneer has the same wheelbase as our once feeble Aztek. I’m going to take full advantage of the Jeep aftermarket by sliding that whole Jeep frame under the Pontiac body. I want bulletproof in my adventure vehicles, so the axles get upgraded to Dana 60’s with air lockers. Toss in an Atlas transfer case spun by a mid-2000’s 2.8L R428 DOHC Jeep diesel (converted to bio-diesel). Add in a manual transmission, and you have something that’ll run forever.
When you think about off-road vehicles, you tend to picture dirt, dents and lots of scratches. Therefore any durable paint or powder coat is recommended. Maybe go so far as to spray the whole rig with bed liner. I’m here to tell you that the material the vehicle is painted with is not as important as the color it’s painted. If you want to stay hidden from predators, paint the rig red. Yogi can’t see red, so when he comes in looking for the French fries in the pic-a-nic basket, you’ll be totally invisible!
The barrier is your friend
The only downside to painting your vehicle red is that’s the favorite color of the Common North American Lot Lizard. They’ll be stuck all over your flanks like Lampreys. So, I guess the choice is up to you. You can die with the searing pain of being mauled to death. Or. You can die with the searing pain of a flaming STD.
Or you could wrap your rig.
I’d wrap it in some kind of flexible plastic. Either way, stay away from the rest stops on your way to the woods.