1997 Pontiac Rageous Concept Car
When it comes to wild, wacky, outrageous concept cars, there are few that are more outrageous than the 1997 Pontiac Rageous Concept Car. This car with an identity crisis was one of the stranger ideas to come out of the late 1990s. The designers seemed to have thrown in every idea they had for what a car should be. We have covered other wacky concept cars before, but this one is unique!
The styling of the 1997 Pontiac Rageous Concept Car has some similarities to other Pontiac cars of that era. It is aggresive, sleek, low slung, and has some qualities that remind me of the Special Edition 1997 Firebird WS6. It has that WS6 style hood, nose, and air intake. I think it is easy to see the styling similarities between the concept car above and a production Firebird WS6 from 1997, which is below. Granted, they aren’t twins, but I think there are enough similarities there to see the family resemblance.
Stylish And Aggressive
Inside is a spacious and functional family sedan with great visibility. There are ample electronics, comfortable seating, a nice sound system, and plenty of storage. The 1997 Pontiac Rageous Concept Car is an outrageous contradiction of cars – is it a family car, or a sports car? Is it trying to be both? The rear of the car has an aggressive rear spoiler, which would make someone believe it is a fast car with performance qualities. There is no indication that this car is in some ways like an SUV – until you see the drop-down tailgate and rear hatch that open up for storage.
The front passenger seat and the two rear seats fold down flat to accomodate skis, golf clubs, and other large items that need to be hauled. With the back seats folded down, this car can actually haul a 4×8 sheet of plywood! Inside, there are U-shaped tie down hooks that pull out of the sides and the floor. This allows cargo to be tied down, which makes me think it was intended to be used like a truck or SUV. There are also 10 cargo pockets and multiple built-in storage containers throughout the interior.
The rear cargo area is covered by a washable rubber mat that can be removed for cleanup. It is also unique since it has 2 half-doors for entry into the rear. Half doors for the rear of smaller cars was not common in 1997, although many trucks have them now. These features helped enforce the idea that this was intended as a family vehicle.
Is It A Family Car Or Not?
To completely contradict the idea of this being a family ride, the car has 4 bucket seats. Each of the bucket seats has a 4 point racing harness instead of a seat belt. All 4 seats also have built in stereo speakers in the headrest. A track ball in the steering wheel controls the phone, climate control, lights, and a Heads Up Display. The analog racing style gauge pods look like they belong on a performance car. The real head scratcher here is the inclusion of 4 point racing harnesses in this car instead of seat belts. Who buys a family car with racing seat belts and racing gauge pods? This is yet another contradiction!
The power for this car was a 5.7 liter 350 cubic inch V8 which made 315 horsepower and 335 lb ft of torque. Mounted to a 5 speed gearbox, this 4,600 lb car had a very respectable (for the time) 0 – 60 time of 5 1/2 seconds. The inclusion of a V8 and manual 5 speed also leans more towards a performance car. Most family cars have a more fuel efficient 6 cylinder and an automatic transmission, so this was unique in a family car/SUV configuration.
The engine bay, pictured below, was very well done. The engine bay was lined with numerous pieces of plastic that were painted and detailed to give the engine bay a refined yet aggressive look. The use of white paint with red accents really made the engine bay look tricked out. I supposed it would be a challenge to keep clean, but it looks cool. I wish car companies would pay attention to details like that on actual production cars!
Car With An Identity Crisis
The 1997 Pontiac Rageous Concept Car was somewhat interesting, in that it basically tried to be everything to everybody. The idea makes sense, I suppose. Make a grocery hauler that has style and performance, and expand your audience to multiple groups of people. The aggressive looks, manual transmission, and V8 were noteworthy. It also had ample storage areas, seating for 4, and the ability to haul things. Inside were analog gauges and racing seat belts. There was a hatch back, a spoiler, a tail gate, and a hood scoop to round out the mixed bag of features. On paper, that must have sounded like the perfect vehicle to the folks at Pontiac.
Pontiac’s slogan at that time was ‘We Build Excitement’. I guess they didn’t build enough,as the public was not excited. The 1997 Pontiac Rageous Concept Car didn’t do well at car shows. Nobody wanted to buy one, and no orders were placed at the car shows. As a result, it was dropped from the lineup before it was ever put into production. The fully functional show car used to promote it, which was shown here, is now a museum piece.
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