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Unread 07-29-2010, 02:19 PM   #1
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Default For Sale: Pontiac's '64 Banshee Prototype XP-833

Concept cars have been, and remain, important in the automotive business, despite the encroachment of computer modeling tools. In the past, such concept cars were usually sent to the cube-making machine when their useful days were done. This is one that got away.

Photos: Mecum Actions

The 1964 Pontiac Banshee Prototype Xp-833 was designed by John Z. DeLorean, following the very successful release of the Pontiac GTO. The increasing focus on performance at Pontiac had been deemed strategically important in defining the brand name and distinguishing it from the competition - both from within and outside General Motors.

Pontiac Division chief at the time, Pete Estes, gave the green flag for two versions to be built - one coupe and one convertible. Using the Chevelle and Le Mans A-body platform, DeLorean had a fiberglass body built which incorporated many innovative features and details that would be seen in later GM products. Sensitive to cross-division politics, DeLorean used a 155-hp SOHC inline six-cylinder engine to avoid invading the territorial claims of other GM products.

It wasn't enough. Once the concept cars' fabrication was complete and visible to all in GM, the project was canceled due to a perceived threat to sales of the Chevrolet Corvette. Advanced features that would eventually see the light on GM product included pop-up headlights, adjustable pedals, horizontal three-bar tail lights, deeply raked windshield, split front grill and the fastback roof line.

When the time came to dispose of the concept car, a particularly astute GM employee convinced the right people to sell it to himself. At the moment, the car's odometer shows only 1,498 miles. The owner passed away and this historically important Pontiac will be auctioned at the upcoming Mecum at Monterrey event, this weekend. How high will the final bidding go? That's a real tough one to call. After all, how can you put a value on a truly "one-of-one" automobile? Still, it wouldn't surprise me to see two commas in the winning bid.

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