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The 1960s was one of the greatest decades in automotive history. Muscle cars were all the rage, and the Ford Mustang was at the top of the pony car segment. Chevy had the Corvette running circles around high-performance sports cars but didn’t have the Camaro in 1966. At that time, the last thing Chevy needed was direct competition in the form of the Pontiac Banshee, but it almost happened.

What was the Pontiac XP-833 Banshee?

Late in 1963, Pontiac Motor Division head John DeLorean approved funding for the XP-833, a two-seat sports car. The Banshee was a sleek, silver two-seat car with a fiberglass body, which made it extremely similar to the Corvette of the time.

As MotorTrend reports, the design influence was the rear-engine Corvair Monza GT. This came straight from Bill Collins, a close associate of DeLorean at the time. The Banshee seemed destined to use the dynamic flexible transaxle, which first appeared in the Pontiac Tempest, another Collins development.

The Pontiac Banshee borrowed parts from other GM models throughout its development. The Banshee engine was a straight six, makking it much different from the Corvette. The Corvette hadn’t used a six-cylinder engine since 1954.

The engine chosen was the new 230-cu-in engine that delivered 165 horsepower. This figure was considerably more pedestrian than expected. The Sprint version produced 215 horsepower when fitted with the Rochester four-barrel carburetor.

Pontiac Banshee Concept sports car testing on a road.
Pontiac Banshee Concept | GM

The Banshee could have been the Miata before the Miata was ever thought of

The goal of the XP-833 project was to deliver an affordable and fun two-seat sports car instead of the exotic road car that is the Corvette. The car would have been basic but offered a long options list, which could have put it in Corvette territory with the right equipment. This is where some of the sibling rivalry issues began.

A scared Corvette team with a lot to lose

While Pontiac was developing the new Banshee, only about 20,000 Corvettes were sold each year. This while the Shelby Cobra and Chrysler XNR were gaining ground on the only top-end American sports car. The Ford Mustang I was also a hot topic at the time, and the last thing the Chevy Corvette needed was competition from within GM.

There’s a good chance the Pontiac Banshee could have taken many potential Ford Mustang buyers. Unfortunately it would have also attracted low-cost Corvette shoppers. This new car, coupled with the popularity of the Pontiac GTO, could have sent this brand to new heights.

Unfortunately for the Pontiac team, GM Chairman James Roche pulled the plug shortly after the XP-833 was shown to top GM executives in mid-1965. This car was about 80% ready for production, but that quickly disappeared. The Pontiac Banshee lost the potential sibling rivalry to the already-established Chevy Corvette. This leavses us wondering what might have been.