An Out-Rageous Idea

1997 Pontiac Rageous ConceptWhat has four doors, Corvette rear suspension, a hatchback and tailgate, four bucket seats, a six-speed manual transmission and a 315-horsepower V8–oh, and can transport a 4×8-foot sheet of plywood inside the cab?

A high-performance sports car/utility combo envisioned by Pontiac, of course.

Why the Rageous?
By the mid-1990s the automotive scene was immersed in a sport utility frenzy. The minivan craze hadn’t fizzled completely since fresh designs and new, versatile passenger-side sliding doors were giving that segment a boost.

However, maybe ironically, the minivan which had afforded parents and active people an alternative to the once-popular station wagon about a decade earlier, was inheriting its predecessor’s so-called soccer mom stigma.

At that time, the CUV (an adequate compromise between car and utility for most) had not fully emerged onto the automotive scene. That left parents, active people and image-conscious buyers turning to truck-based SUVs.

1997 GMC YukonApart from obvious durability and certain utility advantages, true SUVs were more vehicle than many people needed. So car manufacturers were scrambling to be the first to conceive and test ideas that could land them at the head of the next craze.

Add to that the noticeably increased rate of Camaro and Firebird trade-ins that the newly allied GMC-Pontiac dealers were reporting, and Pontiac saw potential for something different.

Testing the market
In 1997, Pontiac showed off a vehicle they thought could deliver usefulness while maintaining a healthy serving of excitement. That vehicle was the Rageous concept.

Rageous auto showThe Rageous was hard to miss at the 1997 North American International Auto Show, where it made its public debut. The concept’s crisp yet velvety-flowing lines, swathed in Pontiac’s deep Red Rush, play havoc with light.

Setting off its rich redness are gloss or matte black features on the front air dam, tastefully-integrated side cladding, roof, lower rear valance, and trim pieces. Designers also extended the dark tinting from the wrap-around taillights forward, almost to the door handles, helping to break up the otherwise tall surfaces.

rear detailsUp front, the hidden headlights were complimented by neon parking lamps, and its fog lamps were shielded with screen mesh. On the opposite end, the taillights were also neon-lit, and large circular backup lamps are nestled deep, just above the wide-set, dual exhaust outlets.

Possibly even more interesting to auto show onlookers than its sinister look was the unique and stunningly capable versatility it proposed.

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