The automotive industry is brutal. Dollar signs drive design decisions every day, and if a product doesn’t continue to satisfy bean counters and board executives, it’s tossed aside regardless of the cult that might follow the nameplate to its grave.
Today we both celebrate and mourn the loss of several models that were axed before they could be polished or refined to the full extent. Read the full article on Hagerty.com:
Pontiac had a good idea with the Aztec. As a Pontiac fan, I loved the Formula Firebirds and the 1986 2+2 based on the Grand Prix, so I wanted to love the Aztec- yet I found certain proportions and details were just not cohesive. But to their credit Pontiac was on the right track with a Cross Over; just look at the similar Nissan Murano which was launched just after the Aztec.
Correct on the Magnum. The Aztec??? The camper "thing" had been available as early as on the 1973 AMC Hornet X. A great car which I used to pull an RV trailer 25k and sold in perfect shape at 153k. The Aztec is crap. The writers of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, know thier cars. The use of the Aztec was brilliant as was Saul's Suzuki "Esteem".
I apologize for this minor criticism of your interesting article, but as to the Phaeton, 72 degree air wafting from the HVAC vents would result in a stuffy cabin in summer heat. The thermometer in the vent of my 112 HP 2001 Chevy Cavalier 🙂 reads somewhere around 40 degrees F on a summer day which makes for a comfortable cabin as it mixes with the solar-heated air.
Was on a tour of Germany, and one of our stops for a couple of days was Dresden. One of the attractions of the city for gearheads in the tour was the VW factory that was producing the vaunted Phaeton. A beautiful facility with plenty of daylight inside and an impressive assembly line. We were not allowed to take photos inside the building, unfortunately, as there was some nice architectural features in the lobby. The tour ended with the traditional gift shop and a couple of phaetons for people to try on for size and feel. My reaction and that of the group as a whole was shock at the price that was attached to the car. It was small, and didn't seem to us as offering anything worth that much money, and it was no surprise to me that it failed in the marketplace.
The Dodge Magnum was a different story however. I fell in love with the styling, and even got a ride in one once, which was pleasureable. I would love to have had a barn and the $$ to have be able to buy one of these, along with about a hundred of my other "dream cars", but unfortunately reality has a bad habit of not allowing that. I was greatly disappointed that there were not enough other people that felt the same about the Magnum as I did.
As far as the Aztek, everyone has their own vision of beauty and what really trips "their trigger". The car manufacturers have made many cars over the years whose looks have brought the question, "what were they thinking" to my mind. But these cars have sold, and someone appreciated them, so it's not for me to judge.
I think people are remembering the Phaeton with a big dose of "rose colored glasses". If you look at comparison tests at the time, It was usually at the back of the pack, or rarely mid-pack. The car did absolutely nothing exceptionally well, and came off as pretty bland. Meanwhile, it was priced the same as the far more prestigious and better performing competition, and you had to go to the same dealership for sales and service as buyers of a base Jetta or Golf. Contrast this to the introduction of the Lexus LS 400. This car won most comparisons, was priced well below the German competition, and Toyota invented Lexus, with it's superior (and practically revolutionary) sales and service experience. That car was a hit, and changed the luxury industry in the process. The Phaeton may have been the basis for the Bentley Continental GT, but you couldn't tell that easily, and Bentley thoroughly re-engineered the thing into an excellent car with virtually no competition, and a low price for a Bentley. Success for the platform, finally.
I think this kind of article is fun, but selected quotes from the article itself answer the question it poses about bringing them back: $100K VW; station wagon; cantankerous; and (beyond butt) ugly.
The Aztek, I was given by loaner by GMC dealership back in the day. People would laugh at the vehicle at the stop light. I can not believe you placed this on the list.
Chrysler had a really good car in the Magnum, they needed to take it to the next step. They did show a Chrysler model of the platform, thinking about marketing it in Europe. They should have come out with a full blow luxury model for the US, the best of the best for the suburban market. The Dodge customer was/is really not a station wagon buyer, maybe market it as a R/T and above. The VW is a great pick...but Aztec, besides ugly, it was over priced garbage ....it really is typical of GM's trip to nowhere. Maybe, just maybe CEO "Mary" can bring it back as a electric? GM is a company that would buy the Hummer brand, run it into the ground, and drop it and develop and market the Aztec?...what were they thinking?
Not a Chrysler fan particularly, but the Dodge Magnum was just cool looking! Mitsubishi 3000GT; I worked in a Mitsubishi dealer parts department....................Uh..................NO...complexity for the sake of complexity....other than that...........
The asstek was the ugliest car
Ever made. GM employees, in some
Cases were forced to buy. So ugly
Many have next to zero miles on
Their maladjusted marque. So
Ugly they kept them hidden in
Garages with the doors locked
Shut. Like the crazy aunt one
Would keep in the basement.
Pontiac hated the car buying
Public at this time. Pontiac's
Predetermined suicide also
Eternal rests with the :06-09
G 6. G6 retractable hardtop
Drop top. I bought this POS for
30000$. The top went down once.
On the electronics that made the
Entire car run. GM owned patents
On repair parts. Would not make
Parts and would not sell patents.
GM bankrupted Karmann which
Made the top as well. I called 12
Dealers. Not one would touch this
Topless whore of a car. This
Top was also used on the 80000$
Cad of that time period. One went
Nuts on a car serviced at a local
Dealer. Destroyed the Cad.
The new Lamborghini SUV resembles the Aztec. Stretch the Aztec and there it is. The GM b body should of stood around the Impala SS was a great car a would of been better.
I went to the dealership with cash ready to buy a 2006 Magnum, right after they came out. I still owned a 1979 Magnum (completely different vehicle) and thought it would be cool to have both, plus I love wagons! But when I opened the rear and saw the cargo space I walked away. It did not have a "cargo area" I could use for hauling stuff, it had a trunk, about 14 inches deep and three feet square. It was nothing but a stretched sedan - I think they call them "Shooting Brakes," now.
Also, I owned a Stealth R/T Turbo and regret ever selling that monster! I'd buy a newer one in a minute. Actually maybe I should check the classifieds for a Hennesey modified version!
RE the "ugly" Aztec,
Has anyone seen a Nissan Murano convertible? That thing makes an Aztec look beautiful, by comparison. Actually even the non-convertible was butt-ugly.
For Europen markets Chrysler marketed the 300C Touring, derived from the Dodge Magnum. I owned one with the Mercedes 3.0 litre V6 Diesel. In spite of its size it was well suited to european roads - and a great drive. 40mpg, sub 8 seconds 0-60 and 140mph without breakinfg a sweat. I miss it ( too big for my wife)
The Aztec was ugly and stupid. No surprise there.
The Phantom was a VW that should have been badged as an Audi.
The Mitsubishi 3000GT and Dodge Stealth was wonderful. Back in the day I wanted one.
The Dodge Magnum, there aren't enough good words in the English Language to describe it properly. I see this as a modern day, and better Chevy Nomad. These when found need to be put away, then in 20 or 30 years brought out to stun the collectors market and car shows everywhere.
The Aztec sucked so hard people thought it was a rogue weather system. Actually watched one almost tip over going around a tight corner too fast. Too tall, too skinny and just butt ugly. The guy that designed it should have been put against a wall and... well, y'know. I really used to like Pontiac until the penny pinchers put it into the ground.
Alas, Aztek. With a better front end, it might have challenged the equally funky Honda Element. That car had no tent, to my knowledge. Unlike the Aztek, it has a cult following. Try to snag a used one and you will see how fast they sell.
Honda, bring back the Element, with a tent!
I had a 2005 Magnum R/T as a company car when they first came out. I loved it. Reasonably quick, handled well for a car of that size and it was very comfortable on trips. I changed companies while I had it and hated to give it up. My successor was not a car guy and did not appreciate it for what it was. On one road trip, I carried two large rolls of carpet in it. Very practical. I am still a station wagon guy and now have an Audi Allroad.
The Dodge magnum has a big following in my area. And the prices show it. As far as the Aztec is concerned, I remember my dentist getting one brand new when they first came out. He was so proud of it. I could never figure out what he saw in it. I thought maybe it was because he had to look into peoples mouths all day long and it affected his judgement to some degree.
VW: nobody wanted to spend that much money on a car with VW's track record of high maintenance and poor reliability . Mitsubishi GT3000 - every time you got into a relatively minor accident involving the front end it wiped out one of the intercoolers. But Mitsubishi's main problem has always been their lack of dealerships.
I own an auto repair and restoration shop, and have multiple cars of my own. I will never part with my 07 Magnum SRT8 in black. Factory chopped, hot rodded, tinted, slammed, and graciously optioned . I'm reminded often how sad it is that it was canceled before the hellcat generation.
The Phaeton story was sad, but i cannot understand why the VW people did not take advantage of the LEXUS story. Imagine if the lexus carried the toyota logo on the cars, would anybody like to spend the money on a longer version of Camry, What killed Phaeton was the same problem. Like Lexus, they should have created a different logo, separate dealer ships and marketing. They could have put the VW in the 'O' in PhaetOn, I would still like to own a 10 cylinder diesel Phaeton, if they replaced the Diesel Particulate Filter free every time. I have a Benz GL320CDI, it cost $3000 to replace the DPF at 150,000 miles.
If Dodge had put the Magnum Wagon out as a Two door Hatchback with a luggage rack on top, they would have outsold the Chevy Nomad by miles! Dodge will go the way of Plymouth if they don't get with the program soon!