Driving a machine that tops ugly-car lists consistently takes a certain mindset.
Just ask Andy Meredith and Sylvia Berthelet, who have owned a Pontiac Aztek since 2004.
"Yes, it's ugly," says Meredith. "But it's like having an ugly kid – he may be ugly, but he's still your kid."
The couple's road to Aztek ownership began more than 10 years ago, when they rented a car for a weekend getaway. They requested an SUV, but when they went to pick it up, the counter agent told them there was bad news.
"You don't have a car for us?" Berthelet asked.
"I have a car," the agent replied. "But it's an Aztek."
Berthelet's heart sank. "Tell me it's not yellow," she said.
"It's yellow," the agent replied.
Over the weekend, the Aztek actually impressed them. "We hated the way it looked," Berthelet says. "But it was really nice to drive."
When they decided to buy a car, the couple briefly considered an Aztek, but instead bought a VW Passat. "It was a lot nicer looking," Berthelet says.
When their Passat was destroyed in a crash, they found themselves car-hunting again. They noticed a dealer's ad for a new Aztek at what appeared to be an impossibly low price. When they went to the dealer, they learned that the price was a misprint, but the Aztek's ugliness gave them a powerful bargaining chip – no one else wanted to buy it.
Ten years and 215,000 trouble-free kilometres later, they have come to terms with owning a car that has gone down in history as one of the most unattractive machines ever built.
"It's function versus form," says Berthelet. "People think it's ugly, but when they ride in it, they go, 'Wow, it's great.'"
The Aztek has also provided an unexpected sense of community: "Aztek drivers wave to you," Berthelet says. "And if there's another Aztek in the parking lot, I park next to it."
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