When John Z. DeLorean tells you to put together a Pontiac sports car to slot under the Corvette, this is what you build. It’s a straight-six powered two-seater called the XP-833 Banshee, meant to share much under the skin with the contemporary Tempest. But while it looks plenty appealing, the car never made it to production, just the concept car (and a V8-powered, drop-top sibling) survived. And now it’s back on the market, complete with the kind of images you’d expect from a used Pontiac listing.
Though the production model was supposed to share many components with other Pontiacs, the Banshee concept made do with a lot of bespoke work inside, particularly when it came to the frame and suspension. A Motor Trend write-up and interview with Pontiac engineer Bill Collins ‘about the car from a few years back shows just how unique the Banshee’s set-up was:
“[...] the production version was intended to be of unitized steel construction with a bonded fiberglass skin. The XP-833 rides on a hybrid frame featuring a conventionally implemented steel perimeter frame, but with no distinct body bolt-down attachment points. Rather, the floors of the body shell are of simple flat steel sheeting and are permanently welded to the box frame. Numerous raw welded seams are visible, and everything is protected by a heavy coat of black paint.
The production version no doubt would have featured much larger formed frame and floor sections with spot welds keeping it all together, rather than the puzzle of flat sheet steel beneath this handbuilt concept. The coil-spring double A-arm front suspension uses what appear to be normal stamped steel A-arms, but they’re not from the anticipated 1964 Tempest parts bin. Further research also excludes the 1961-’63 Tempest or Corvair parts bins (the first-generation Tempest shared many items with the Corvair). It seems unlikely GM would tool up specific stamped control arms just for these handbuilt sportsters, so we’re at a loss as to their origin.
We do know a pair of small-diameter coil-over shock/spring units support the lightweight nose without strain and a conventional idler/pitman-arm steering arrangement with a manual box directs the tires. No rack and pinion here. The rear suspension is much more of a work in progress. Though Collins’ group likely cast an eye toward the Corvette’s then-revolutionary independent rear suspension, XP-833 uses a standard Tempest 10-bolt live rear axle, but that’s where the parts-bin sourcing ends. The four-link setup with a full Watts linkage is entirely made up of hand-welded steel plate and tubing.“
A mixture of one-off engineering and parts-bin scouring shows that the Banshee was at once an exciting proposition for a new segment of the market and a calculated business decision that ultimately wouldn’t be worth the risk when all was considered, especially when the thought of a mini-Corvette cannibalizing the GM flagship’s sales came to mind.
Napoli Kia in Connecticut has the Banshee listed for sale alongside a number of other less impressive Pontiacs. At $750,000, the Banshee won’t likely be cross-shopped with the Solstices and G8s on offer, but the fact that you can see them listed next to each other is almost thrilling. It’s like seeing a brand’s halo car work in real-time. I wouldn’t have scanned the rest of the listings on their site if I hadn’t seen the Banshee, but I saw it so I did. Mission accomplished.
The Banshee has been in the dealer’s family for quite some time now. Motor Trend featured the car in 2013. The spread mentioned that the car’s owner was none other than Len Napoli, whose family had been selling Pontiacs for decades before GM canned the brand and they switched to Kias.
Unfortunately, it seems that the Napoli family has decided to part with the car. They’ve got it listed here alongside the rest of the pre-owned offerings at Napoli Kia in Milford, Connecticut.