The 1988 Pontiac Banshee concept car technology story was all about freeing the driver to concentrate on the business of driving.
Controls to adjust the radio, interior climate, and other functions were at the flick of a wrist, being located on the steering wheel hub. Headrest-mount radio speakers contained individual volume, tone, and balance controls. Mobile entertainment included a CD player with remote-control disc storage in the car trunk.
Video played an expanding role in driving convenience. Rear-view monitors replaced the customary mirrors, for starters. The Pontiac Banshee concept car's ETAK navigational system also used a TV monitor, ready to display weather data, road conditions -- even a computer-generated overhead view of the road ahead. When fully developed, the system gave a picture of the surrounding terrain and traffic, data on incoming cars, and even suggested the best speed for current conditions.
The Pontiac Banshee concept car was a fully operational prototype, but because test drivers had been limited to a governed 55-mph speed, performance predictions were speculative at best. With the right powertrain under that shapely skin, though, onlookers imagined that they prove mighty tempting. Hot Rod magazine estimated a development cost of $1.5 million for the Banshee project, and the result looked well worth the investment.
As far as the production Firebird, the 1993-2002 generation did pick up on some of the styling cues of the 1988 Pontiac Banshee concept car, if not a whole lot of its video and communications technology. Still, the 1988 Pontiac Banshee concept car was a window into the Pontiac's approach to excitement, and the red-and-black wedge wouldn't look at all out of place on a 21st-century highway.
Check out the specifications of the 1988 Pontiac Banshee concept car on the next page.