The Pontiac XP-833 Banshee was a prototype, created under the watch of John Z. DeLorean, that never went into production but proved very influential on later GM cars. The C3 Corvette is the most obvious of those, but the Opel GT also shows quite a bit of Banshee DNA. Pittsburgh-based LeMons legend Dave Morrow decided that he had to race a Banshee in our series, so he started gathering parts a few years ago.
Obviously, you’re not going to find a real Banshee on Craigslist, from some guy who will take an RV sewage tank and $17 in trade. That meant that Dave had to be resourceful, as he was when he built a GTO Judge out of a Toyota Supra, dropped a supercharged GM 3800 engine into a Bradley GT, or rigged up a mid-engined, all-junkyard twin-turbo setup in a GMC one-ton van.
The Banshee, had it gone into production, probably would have been powered by the innovative Pontiac OHC-6 engine, which was a SOHC version of the Chevrolet 250 straight-six. These engines were installed in a fair number of Tempests, LeManses, and Firebirds, and they’re not difficult to find for cheap prices today. Dave bought several running OHC-6 engines in a package deal for a couple hundred bucks.
The Opel GT is very similar in size to the Banshee prototype, and the body design of the Banshee was appropriated by those crafty European GM designers for their “baby Corvette.” You can find rough Opel GTs for scrap value or less in the United States these days, and so Dave didn’t waste any time swapping an OHC-6 engine and 3-on-the-floor manual transmission into a cheap Opel.
A lot of sheet-metal and body-filler work went into the Opel, to make it look more like a Banshee. You can use this approach to make a “Ferrari” out of any number of cheap race cars.
The Banshee’s debut came at the 2015 Alabama race. The Morrow’s Auto guys decided to dress as the cast of characters from the notorious 1982 cocaine bust of Banshee mastermind John DeLorean. Here’s “DeLorean” getting cuffed by DEA agents.
Dave Morrow and his teammates are unusual in that all of their creations show up to the track in ready-to-race condition; the more creative LeMons teams tend to get a little overambitious about scheduling, but Morrow’s Auto is very efficient and well-organized. The car made the starting lineup and was on the track when the green flag waved on Saturday morning.
The OHC-6 was rated at 165 horsepower, which was a lot for a straight-six engine of the 1960s but not enough to make the Morrow’s Auto Banshee incredibly quick on the race track. Still, a car this spectacular, with 1960s suspension and an elderly engine of a type we have never seen before, usually gets put into slow-car Class C… and the Morrow’s Auto Banshee annihilated the rest of the Class C competition by the end of the weekend. When it was all over, the Banshee had won its class by a massive 40-lap margin over the next-best Class C car (a Ford Pinto).
The amazing thing about this car was the reliability of the engine; after several races since its first, the Banshee’s OHC-6 is still going strong. We’re trying to talk teams into swapping one of these engines into a Nissan 240SX or BMW 3-Series.
Looking for inspiration for your next 24 Hours of LeMons car? We say you should do what Dave Morrow did and build a replica of a classic prototype machine… like, say, an AMC AMX/3!