“A small package with a big bite”

2000 Pontiac Piranha ConceptIt seems that Piranhas generally range from six inches to just under one foot in length. Considering what the carnivorous fish is capable of, that’s relatively small.

The interesting thing is that the words quoted above weren’t referring to the ferocious meat eater.

Rather, it was Pontiac’s way of describing their 2000, relatively small but capable concept vehicle of the same name.

Seeking out trends
2000 Pontiac Piranha concept sketch exteriorTowards the end of the 1990s, Pontiac seemed to be in search of a way to redefine excitement. Several years of concepts geared towards practicality and utility seem to indicate the division wanted to appeal to those that found as many thrills inside the vehicle as out.

For 1997, Pontiac displayed its capable and powerful Rageous concept, then came the 1998 minivan/SUV hybrid called the Montana Thunder concept which was followed by the 1999 Aztek concept (post forthcoming).

Since Pontiac appeared to be creating an association with active living, it stands to reason they would seek inspiration from the young or, as Pontiac had phrased it, “the undisputed experts in youthful trends: the 18 to 26 year old.”

2000 Pontiac Piranha concept profile

“We went out to a college campus and an indoor rock climbing facility,” said John Mack, Pontiac’s former design manager. “We talked to people we thought were Pontiac type of people – urban trend starters, 18 to 26 years old. A diverse group of people with very active lifestyles, who were into extreme athletic events.”

2000 Pontiac Piranha concept front three-qtr

Capable and looks it
What Pontiac learned from those budding Gen X-ers was that top vehicular priorities included room for friends, gear and cargo; and affordability. However, that last stipulation was contingent on the vehicle not looking cheap. Seems reasonable.

2000 Pontiac Piranha concept rear three-qtrThe fulfillment of those desires, as interpreted by Pontiac, was the Piranha concept. (Strange thing is I can’t draw any connection between the car and the fish. All I can think is that they just liked the way it sounded. In my opinion it’s a great name, connotation or not.)

For Piranha, the Pontiac team translated athletic objects into automotive applications; things like sports shoes, mountain bikes and backpacking gear. A collapsible tent was used as the primary styling inspiration.

“A tent is a small package that expands to do a lot. So is Piranha,” said Mr. Mack. “The support rods, the tension of the tent materials – these cues all found their way into the design.”

2000 Pontiac Piranha concept rear tub in and outIn many cases, a cooler is a companion to a tent. So, continuing with the tent theme, the 9.5-cubic-foot trunk is sealed and insulated, and includes a drain plug. That means it not only stores dry or wet objects but even food and ice, and keeps them cold.

To top that, the cooler portion can be removed to be used for portable storage or as a mobile ice chest. It’s lockable, washable and even collapsible.

And, if you’re thinking that isn’t enough insulated storage, the glove box also doubles as an ice box.

Continued on page 2, below.

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