What’s This One-Off 1964 Pontiac Banshee Prototype Doing at a New England Kia Dealership?
At $750,000, it’s by far the most expensive car on the store’s virtual lot.
Not many have heard of the Pontiac Banshee, and that's okay. It was conceptualized and developed some 56 years ago by special vehicle teams at General Motors, with the most recognizable name involved being John Delorean. He would be the lead designer for the Banshee project, which was planned as a Ford Mustang rival but eventually got axed as to not cannibalize Corvette sales of the era. Still, a couple prototypes leaked out here and there, though allegedly only one coupe was ever built.
The Banshee XP-833's sleek body features sharp creases throughout and a seating position that's just in front of the rear wheels. One particularly distinctive design cue is the bubble in the middle of the hood, and others would go on to live in future GM products. The prototype's pointed front-end was famously used on the Corvette C3, as was the chiseled hood, while its taillights and general rear-end design were implemented on the first-generation Firebird.
Under the hood of this model—which wears serial no. 66L23060—is a 230-cubic-inch straight-six engine sending power to a four-speed manual gearbox. This is a relatively modest power plant, though high output was never in the plans for the Banshee. It sported modified suspension components from the 1964 Pontiac Tempest and, really, it was pretty lightweight given its fiberglass bodywork.
Its all-red interior is certainly period-correct, though there's one key difference between the Banshee and the Mustang it was intended to fight against: The Pontiac only has two seats. Several American manufacturers toyed with this idea in the early '60s—an early Mustang prototype also lacked rear thrones—though it never made enough sense to put into production.
This one-of-one example has traveled just 1,498 miles and shows essentially zero wear and tear. The listing notes that it's the exact car mentioned by various GM history books over the past five decades and, up to this point in its life, it has more or less served as a museum piece.
The most recent sale information on this car can be traced back to the 2015 Dragone Auction, which took place near the Greenwich Concours in Connecticut. It's likely that it changed hands there to the current seller, Lenny Napoli of Napoli Kia in Milford, though it's unclear how much it sold for. Napoli is a known Pontiac collector and has several other models listed at his family of dealerships, from classic GTOs to more modern G8 GXP muscle sedans. While the Banshee is listed on Napoli Kia's online storefront, it can also be found on Napoli Nissan's and Napoli Classics' websites.
It's difficult to pin down the market for this car and whether or not someone will pay three-quarters of a million dollars for it, though it certainly isn't lacking cool factor. Its rarity alone should help it command a respectable price, though $750,000 would be a sizable step up from previous sale figures. It fetched $214,500 at Barrett-Jackson's Scottsdale auction in 2006 and failed to meet reserve at $325,000 (RM, Amelia Island 2010) and $400,000 (Mecum, Monterey 2010).
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