John Z. DeLorean had his pet projects during his tenure at General Motors, but none were quite as passionate as his drive to give Pontiac a small, affordable sports car. That car, the 1964 Pontiac XP-833 Banshee, never made it to production — but you can buy one of the two remaining prototypes on eBay.
Like the Corvette, the XP-833/ Banshee used a fiberglass body, and placed its engine ahead of the driver — but that was virtually where the resemblance stopped. Pontiac envisioned a wide array of engine offerings to create a broad lineup, and knock down the base price to affordable levels. The base engine was supposed to be the 155-horsepower, 230-cubic-inch, overhead-cam I-6
Like the Corvette, the Banshee positioned its engine ahead of the driver. Unlike Chevy’s sports car though, it would offer a variety of engine configurations to create a broader lineup. The base engine was to be the 155-horsepower, 230-cubic-inch, overhead-cam, inline-six-cylinder engine in the coupe here, but V-8 power — including a 326-cubic-inch engine — would have been available. Two running prototypes were built — a roadster with the V-8, and this coupe, which uses the I-6.
With a curb weight of roughly 2200 pounds, the Banshee weighed in at roughly 500 pounds less than the Corvette of the time. Despite having less power, the Banshee was reportedly nearly as fast as a base Corvette. Because of this, along with the halo car status GM placed around the Corvette model itself, DeLorean perpetually had to hide the project from top GM brass to keep it alive. It didn’t last long — GM ordered the project halted soon after, and later did the same for the XP-798, which was a stretched five-seat version of the 833. After 798 was killed, Pontiac was forced to adopt the F-car program, which ultimately yielded it the Firebird.
Per GM policy, both Banshee prototypes were ordered destroyed, but both managed to disappear into thin air. DeLorean hid both within shipping crates, and Pontiac management ultimately sold them to employees originally tied to the development program. The roadster currently lives with noted concept car collector Joe Bortz, but the slender coupe shown here is currently up for grabs. This particular Banshee was purchased from GM by Bill Killen after who owned the car until a few years ago. Regardless, no owner has driven it extensively — it features the original paint, interior, and drivetrain, and has only 1498 miles on the odometer.
Why would you want one?
Because it literally is the only one, but perhaps more importantly, it’s a beautiful piece of Pontiac’s history. DeLorean may have been marred with scandal later in life, but he was virtually right on the money with the XP-833 — even to this day, it’s shape — which is remarkably prescient of the C3 Corvette launched five years after — is remarkably timeless.
If you’re a die-hard Poncho collector and “just another” Firebird won’t do, perhaps a Banshee is worth ponying up some extra cash for. At the time of righting, bidding has eclipsed the $105,000 mark, albeit the reserve has yet to be met. Seeing as it changed hands for seven figures earlier this decade, we’re betting that reserve price may not be met for quite some time.
Check out the Banshee auction here and a short video of the car here.