He Who Del't It

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.


Tell me what ugly or orphan car you want to see made cool!

Previous post

The X-15: The Baddest Hot Rod in the Sky

Next post

Painter Mick Jenkins Talks Toners and Tools

The Author

Del Swanson

Del Swanson


  1. August 20, 2018 at 5:41 am — Reply

    Just what I have been looking for.
    Bought 04 Aztek Rally and I have started looking for another for 3800 swap ,lift AWD for the hell of it . The Grand Cherokee wheelbase is very tempting .. . Would love to see one done. All the best and thanks

    • August 21, 2018 at 9:45 pm — Reply

      John, if you do that, send pictures!

  2. Amber Foster
    April 4, 2019 at 8:46 pm — Reply

    Imim lookong to do something similiar to my aztek as you have posted above but I live in a flood zone and want to be ablr to drive my car in and out no problems. Do you have any suggestions as far as after market items or ways i can have my aztek better prepared for muddy roads and high water areas

    • April 7, 2019 at 11:49 pm — Reply

      Amber, there are a few different manufacturers of bolt-on tracks that could replace your tires for better traction. Just search for “bolt on tracks” for trucks or jeeps. As for flotation, word has it that there is a company out of indonesia that made 2 million 1/4 scale Peter Griffon adult inflatable dolls. The problem is they are dead ringers of Michael Moore so, obviously, they need to offload them on the cheap. These could be hooked up to the onboard compressor and deployed as needed. Because of the size of these things, you probably only need one, but I would install two just to be safe. Hope this helped. Del

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.