1964 Pontiac XP-833 Banshee Prototype
Take a glimpse at the 1964 Pontiac Banshee concept and tell us what you see. An Opel GT, perhaps, or a 1968 Corvette? Both would be correct answers, since the Banshee heavily influenced the style of both products.
In fact, the Banshee’s styling is somewhat timeless, and the car looks just as stunning today as it did back in 1964. While the microscopic A-pillars would never survive contemporary roof-strength testing, and the lack of pedestrian-protecting bumpers would also raise a red flag, the overall shape would certainly draw crowds as a modern concept.
Which makes the Banshee’s can’t-find-love story that much stranger. Originally proposed by then-Pontiac
-head John DeLorean as a Ford Mustang
fighter, the Banshee was built in two prototype versions, both with fiberglass bodies.
A V-8 convertible was deemed to be too close to the Corvette in performance, so the focus shifted to a straight-six engined version, which still packed some 165 horsepower (detuned from 200 hp, according to the New York Times Wheels
blog, to further protect the Corvette
) into it’s sub-2,300 pound frame. Neither the Banshee Coupe nor the Banshee Convertible could gather enough signatures to see production, and the project was scrapped in 1966.
Both prototypes were supposed to be crushed, but were instead hidden away until they could be safely sold to GM employees close to the Banshee project. The Banshee Coupe seen here stayed with its original owner until 2006, when it was sold to Pontiac collector Len Napoli for the surprisingly low price of $210,600 at a Barrett-Jackson auction.
Since then, Napoli has offered up the car on a few separate occasions. In December 2007, it was listed on eBay for the ambitious price of $1.3 million, but failed to find a buyer. Four months later, it was back on eBay with a “Buy It Now” price of $1.5 million, but again found no takers.
Thinking that a classic car auction would produce the type of buyer needed to appreciate the Banshee’s place in history, Napoli brought the car to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2010, where RM Auctions brought the bid price up to $325,000 against a pre-auction estimate of $400,000 - $600,000. Disappointed, Napoli opted not to lower the reserve and sell the car.
A Mecum auction during the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance week, followed by more postings on eBay
, also failed to produce a buyer. This time, the car is up for sale on eBay
again, with a “Buy It Now” price reduced to $750,000. With just minutes left in the auction, the car had found no takers.
Given the sale prices of other prototypes in recent years, and considering the car’s link to other iconic GM designs (and the tie-in to John DeLorean), you’d think that a buyer could be found at a price agreeable to all. Sadly, that hasn’t been the case.