Back in the day, General Motors wasn’t afraid to put out multiple versions of essentially the same vehicle across its lineup. Hence, the Pontiac Grand Prix, Chevy Monte Carlo, Buick Regal, and Olds Cutlass, along with the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird.
What if the General had allowed the Chevy Corvette to be morphed into an Olds or Pontiac version, too?
Well, back in 1964, GM executive John Delorean (yes, of the “Back to the Future” Delorean) pushed for such a Pontiac version of the Corvette. He even produced a one-off prototype coupe of the “Corvette killer” that he eventually dubbed the “Banshee.”
The Banshee, which looked a lot like the 1968 Corvette but with its own twists, had a straight-six engine and a light fiberglass body that meant it might have put the performance hurt on the Corvette. GM bosses quickly nixed the idea of having the Corvette one-upped, however, and quickly canceled any such notions.
That silver Banshee prototype, however, has survived for the past 56 years and believe it or not, it’s now up for sale at Napoli Kia in Milford, Connecticut. The good news is that the dealership is offering a discount of $3,950. The bad news is that still leaves the asking price at a whopping $750,000!
As to how the car wound up for sale at a Kia dealership, that’s a good story. It seems that Len Napoli’s father owned a Pontiac dealership starting in 1958, and Len eventually took over, holding the franchise through the early 2000s. Now Len is a Kia dealer. Just before Pontiac’s long and glorious history came to an end in the midst of GM’s financial troubles, Napoli was able to buy the one-and-only Banshee coupe. (A white convertible prototype also was produced, by the way.)
Delorean and his team originally got the green light to create the Banshee to compete with Ford’s radical and wildly successful new Mustang. Lead engineer Bill Collins used a 1963 Corvair Monza GT as inspiration for the Banshee, adding a new fiberglass body over a steel frame with a 165-horsepower straight-six under the hood, connected to a four-speed manual transmission.
The idea was really a sort of Pontiac Fiero/Solstice forerunner, a fun yet affordable two-seater that could be upgraded with multiple options to give each individual owner his own piece of paradise. In fact, the aforementioned white convertible Banshee packed a 326 V8 under the hood.
Speaking of the hood, we’re wondering what our readers think about that weird “dinosaur” bubble in the middle?
After Delorean’s idea was shot down by GM brass, the two historic Banshees (originally known as XP-833s) were relegated to a garage for years, with Collins and colleague Bill Killen eventually being allowed to buy them from GM in 1973.
This silver coupe eventually came back on the market in 2006, crossing the block at Barrett-Jackson for $214,500. Other subsequent attempts at selling the car have ended unsuccessfully, despite bids as high as $400,000 at Mecum in Monterey in 2013.
The unrestored car has covered less than 1,500 miles in the past 56 years, leading a very pampered life between trips to car shows. It’s interesting to note that the design elements of the Banshee eventually showed up in later Pontiacs, as we can see the production Firebird all over the rear end and rear roof line.
What do you think? Should there have been a Pontiac version of the Corvette?