Pontiac's idea of a futuristic muscle car.
Name: Pontiac Rageous
Debuted: 1997 North American International Auto Show
Specs: 5.7-liter V8 engine with 315 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque, five-speed manual gearbox, 4,600-pound weight, 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds
Why We Remember It Now:
Because there was nothing quite like it back then and there isn’t one today. In addition, it’s a weird-looking thing, a V8-powered hatchback with suicide doors and a drop-down tailgate on top of which is sitting a rather tacky fixed rear wing. Even though overall it looks quite funky (and not necessarily in a good way), Pontiac should have made this instead of the dreadful Aztek that arrived a couple of years later.
Getting back to the Rageous, Pontiac called it a ‘fiery red sports machine’ and envisioned the performance hatch with practicality in mind by giving it a foldable front passenger seat. The aforementioned drop-down tailgate provided access to a massive 49 cubic feet (1,387 liters) cargo area featuring a washable dirt-resistant rubberized material on the floor to make cleaning a breeze.
It also had no less than ten net pockets and several U-shaped tie-down hooks to secure the items being transported. All these goodies opened up ‘a whole new world of functionality for a high performance sports car,’ according to interior designer Tim Greig. Speaking of the cabin, the dashboard layout and finish is too fast and too furious for our tastes, but kids back in the day probably liked it.
Although it looked a tad childish, the cabin did have a few aces up its sleeve, such as the head-up display along with a track ball mouse in the steering wheel to control many of the car’s functions. Those four bucket seats weren’t too bad, either.
Although peculiar, the Rageous is in many ways interesting as it tried to be the jack of all trades by offering a high level of practicality and some serious performances. The 5.7-liter engine pushed out 315 horsepower (235 kilowatts) and 335 pound-feet (454 Newton-meters) of torque sent to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission. The hardware was punchy enough to enable a 0-60 mph (0-96 kph) run in only five and a half seconds.
For obvious reasons, the Pontiac Rageous did not make it to the assembly line. Even if it did, the model wouldn’t have been enough to save the brand from extinction which occurred in January 2010 when the last car was built.
Check out the press release to read the original document sent to the media back in 1997.