My Car Quest

March 1, 2024

Concepts: 1997 Pontiac Rageous

Maybe it was the name…a 1987 Pontiac Show Car that (thankfully) rushed into Obscurity.

by Wallace Wyss –

Whenever I see pictures of a Detroit concept car from decades ago that I never saw before, I do a double take. How could it have escaped my eye? What was I doing in 1997 that I didn’t see it? It makes me feel like I just woke up on another planet where everything is familiar but yet slightly different.

Pontiac Rageous

Some have called the Rageous “the Aztek that should have been”. The theory was put a lot of Trans Am design cues in it to make a family car exciting. It was a four door though the rear doors are like the RX-8 Mazda, sort of half doors. But the surprising thing is that it’s a hathback which doesn’t look so hatchback-ey from the side. It almost seems like a be-rugged El Camino when you lift the hatchback. And remember net pockets? This car had them up the ying-yang, ten in all.

Pontiac Rageous

Pontiac Rageous

The cleverest part is the drop-down tailgate big enough to land your 747 on– a massive 49 cubic feet (1,387 liters) featuring a washable dirt-resistant rubberized material. Hey, at last a home for the fabled Unit of Detroit Measure, the 4X8 sheet of plywood. And it had a more go-fast engine than the Aztek–A ’90s vintage LT1 rated at 315 horsepower with 335 pound-feet of torque and a Corvette based rear suspension.

Pontiac Rageous Hot Wheels

The dash had a heads-up display along with a track ball mouse in the steering wheel to control many of the car’s functions. And to remind you this was a four door sports car, it had four bucket seats. Back in those days they still had manual trannies and this one had a 5-speed. I am not saying it was ever a running car but GM said it would do 0-60 mph (0-96 kph) run in only five and a half seconds.

The Rageous would have been forgotten entirely if not for the fact Hot Wheels offered their micro-sized version time and time again.

OK so this was a tad over the top so GM made the Aztek instead and that was ridiculed for bad design for years, the butt of nightclub comedians’ jokes. You’ll find the Rageous parked on The Road Not Taken…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss has been a guest lecturer at the Art Center College of Design.



Concepts: 1997 Pontiac Rageous
Article Name
Concepts: 1997 Pontiac Rageous
The Pontiac Rageous would have been forgotten entirely if not for the fact that Hot Wheels offered their version time and time again.


  1. Robert Feldman says

    It looks like a Hot Wheels car! I think that boat would have floated.

  2. Joe Pray says

    I much rather would have seen this on the lot instead of AZTEC

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