My Car Quest

April 23, 2021

Concepts: The 1966 Pontiac Banshee XP-798

The GM show car that never was (shown).

by Wallace Wyss –

There are, in industry, rivalries. One that I remember was in 1966, when an old line exec, Ed Cole, resentful of youthful side-burned John Z. DeLorean sought to pull the rug out from under him. On the eve of the Detroit Auto Show, he cancelled the appearance of a Pontiac show car, the Banshee. A design championed by DeLorean.

1966 Pontiac Banshee XP-798

The car had been conceived as a “Mustang Fighter.” It had lots of stuff the Mustang didn’t have–an all wheel independent suspension, a big block (421 V8) and fold down rear seats. Really kitschy were the doors in the roof – flip-ups in addition to the regular passenger doors. The grille reminds me of the 1964 Iso Grifo.

One excuse I have read was that Cole thought it would eat into the Corvette’s market share. Yet Chevrolet was developing the F Car which became the Camaro/Firebird so one would think this was just hinting at Firebirds and Camaros to come.

Now I was working in advertising in the GM building at the time and remember back then Harlow Curtice was fingered for yanking the car. Turns out after they got the publicity ready to introduce it as the “Banshee” someone looked up the name Banshee and found this ominous definition: “In Celtic mythology and popular belief in Ireland, a banshee is a female spirit from the other world, whose appearance heralds an imminent death.”

1966 Pontiac Banshee XP-798

Bad karma, right? So one of the most beautiful GM show cars never made it to the show.

Later on, in 1988 the Banshee name was revived by Pontiac into a show car and there were several iterations including some two seaters. So all objections to the name apparently were lost. I think it’s a crying shame, this car could have greatly influenced Detroit design…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is co-host of Autotalk, broadcast from KUCR FM Riverside.

 
 
 
 

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Summary
Concepts: The 1966 Pontiac Banshee XP-798
Article Name
Concepts: The 1966 Pontiac Banshee XP-798
Description
On the eve of the Detroit Auto Show in 1966, General Motors cancelled the appearance of the Pontiac Banshee XP-798.
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Comments

  1. Your article reminded me the one-off 1965 Pontiac Vivant 77 Roadster; a prototype built by Herb Adams.
    I saw this car at the 2019 Villa d’Este Concours… very inspiring.

  2. Wes Stewart says

    Barrett-Jackson had a 1964 version at auction in 2006.

    https://www.barrett-jackson.com/Events/Event/Details/1964-PONTIAC-PROTOTYPE-BANSHEE-XP-833-COUPE-15781

    IMHO it looks racier and appears more road worthy than the ’66, which even lacks headlights, as near as I can see. The ’64 had the OHC inline six that was also in the ’66 Pontiac Sprint which I once owned. It used to surprise some Mustang owners.

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