The ride that Bloomberg called “the most hated of ugly cars” is making a resurgence.
Kids these days are scooping up the long-defunct Pontiac Aztek, giving it a popularity it never knew in its shiny and new days. It ranks sixth among used cars bought by 18- to 34-year-olds, according to Edmunds. The uptick is widely credited to Walter White, the cancer-stricken chemistry-teacher-turned-drug-dealer of AMC’s Breaking Bad.
He drove a custom-painted greenish Aztek for most of the series, and it basically always had a broken windshield, or a newly repaired one.
People who are into Breaking Bad are really into Breaking Bad, so of course they started paying attention to things like what cars the characters were driving. Fans applauded show creators for their too-perfect choices when it came to the automobile lineup.
The Aztek in particular is the subject of numerous theories and speculations about how the car is a metaphor for Walter White, a veritable extension of his psyche.
“You know he bought that battered old Aztek used because he got a good price on it and hasn’t really taken care of it. It’s appropriate for his lame, suburban existence,” Patrick George argued on Jalopnik a couple of years ago:
Breaking Bad isn’t really about drugs, it’s about Walt’s plummet into a moral abyss. And that’s why the Aztek is so fitting. The car was lambasted as a perfect example of groupthink and managerial bad decisions at General Motors. In many ways, it can be seen as a symbol of their downward spiral into near-death during the Carpocalypse. Deep down inside, it represents something ugly, not unlike the path Walt follows as the show goes on.
Later in the series, Walter sells the beat-up Aztek for a measly $50, and trades up for the darker, eviler Chrysler 300C SRT8. Another metaphor, right?
Which is probably why today’s young people are turning to the used car market for affordable and functional Azteks to live out their Breaking Bad fantasies.
The vehicle’s resurgence is perhaps epitomized by this decidedly uncool Aztek commercial, remixed and interrupted by something jarring and sinister. Aztek IS the danger.