No, it wasn't made in the basement as a school project by a bunch of teens -- Pontiac actually employed some of the most skilled designers to pen the new model. They wanted to create emotional connections with buyers. The only emotions it created were fits of laughter. With 90 years in the business and the likes of the popular Bonneville, muscular GTO and the sleek Firebird in its locker, Pontiac surely wasn't capable of a disaster like this? But its heyday was in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. By the Nineties, it had lost its way -- see the 1992 Grand Am and 1995 Sunfire for details.
The malformed atrocity that was the Aztek, unveiled in Detroit in 2001, was on another level of ugly. With a body covered with plastic cladding, various lights and an assortment of vents, it was a confused mess and looked as if it'd been beaten together with a mallet. Someone somewhere at the design studio had clearly lost the plot; who wanted a car that could turn into a tent? Not many, as it turned out. Pontiac hoped to sell 80,000 a year but couldn't even shift 30,000 to break even. In its final year of production in 2005, just 5,020 units of the part-CUV-part-egg-carton sold. The reasons for this debacle were many, primarily a desperate cost-cutting bid just before the concept (which wasn't bad at all) was green-lighted. Shorn of any attractive features to speak of, not even its large cabin, 3.4-litre V6 and all-wheel-drive configuration could save it.
GM put Pontiac out of its misery in 2010 and many pinned the blame on the Aztek for the legendary marque's demise.