Dramatic styling strokes marked the 1988 Pontiac Banshee concept car design. Dual gaping cutouts at the tapered tail certainly fit this description, even if their purpose was less evident. Pontiac claimed they "direct air from under the vehicle." They also allowed a peek at chassis components, if you were so inclined.
Atop the rear deck stood a pair of wraparound, super-thin wing-style adjustable spoilers, separate from each other and extending all the way forward into the doors. At rising speeds, they could adjust to a position that increases downforce, giving traction a boost. Tail lamps were mounted right in the split wings, rather than tacked onto the back panel.
Throughout, the profile of the Pontiac Banshee concept car was an imaginative blend of graceful curves and assertive angles. John Folden, head of Exterior No. 2 Studio, said the potential F-car "had to be low and slippery with an intensely provocative personality." Furthermore, the traditional front-engine/rear-drive layout had to be maintained, since the public would expect Pontiac-level performance from the car.
Like many concept vehicles, the Pontiac Banshee concept car body was made up of fiberglass skin stretched across a tubular frame. Smoothly flowing bodysides were devoid of breaks or interruptions. Not even a mirror or a door handle blocked the line from front to rear. Doors opened in response to a signal from a wristwatch-size remote control unit. Flush-mounted glass and doors added to the one-piece effect. So did the concealed headlamps.
Under the futuristic front hood lay a 4.0-liter double-overhead-cam aluminum V-8 engine, capable of producing 230 horsepower. Because of the engine's integral block/head design, which needed no head gaskets, it was never a strong bet for evolution into a production powerplant. The design was actually a leftover from an engine program that was abandoned.
A five-speed manual gearbox fed power to the rear wheels, as it had been on Firebirds for more than two decades. Chassis features included independent suspension all around, but twin control arms replaced the current Firebird's MacPherson struts up front. At the rear was a composite leaf spring, not unlike Corvette's. Four-wheel disc brakes came with an anti-locking system.
Goodyear 17-inch tires handled the ground-hugging duties with wheels that looked sharp and ready for the next century. But a closer look revealed that they were merely fiberglass covers atop everyday aluminum wheels. Such was the way of concept cars.
The designers of the 1988 Pontiac Banshee concept car paid as much attention to the interior of the car as they did the exterior. Go to the next page to learn more.