Viewing the mule in person, one almost instantly notices the increased width. It’s almost like the body was dropped on a chassis a bit too large for its dimensions—but that’s intentional. The car was built to replicate the chassis dimensions of the concept car, so the track width is kicked out a significant amount.

Unlike many of the mules before it, the Piranha/Sunfire had a new lease on life. Due to product-liability issues, these cars were normally destroyed after their tour of duty was completed, but some became part of the GM Heritage Collection—like this one.

If anything good can be said about the financial woes GM experienced leading up to its bankruptcy and reorganization, it did see many one-of-a-kind vehicles sold off that likely would have been otherwise destroyed. In order to show the federal government that it was working hard to fix its money troubles in the months before the bankruptcy, GM partnered with the Barrett-Jackson auction house to release approximately 150 “non-essential” vehicles from the Heritage Collection at a 2008 Las Vegas auction. This prototype was sold, while the actual Piranha remained with GM.

It was eventually sold to American Classic Motor Cars in Ocala, Florida. Owner Richard Clark bid $10,450 and became the winner of the auction. His partner, Josh Hart, runs the business on a daily basis. “It’s a phenemonal car, very understated—until you drive it.” He said that it ran a 13.4 at 101.75 mph in the quarter-mile. “We tested it just a couple of weeks ago at Gainesville.”

He added that there were some minor electrical problems and the odometer didn’t work. It’s believed to have more than the 43 test miles that the odometer shows.

Unfortunately, the Piranha concept remained just that—a one-off that, from a marketing standpoint, was replaced by the Pontiac Vibe, sending buyers off into uncharted frontiers of Toyota-based mediocrity. Even the promise of an upgraded Sunfire never came to be, though a version of the supercharged powertrain found its way into the first Chevy Cobalt SS, before switching to a more powerful EcoTech turbo combination.

As usual in that period, Pontiac did all the heavy lifting and received little for its efforts.