1-Of-12: 1966 Fiberfab Banshee

Kit cars will always be a lucky dip when it comes to the vexing question of build quality. Sometimes the finished product can be stunning, while at other times, they can be pretty gruesome. This 1966 Fiberfab Banshee fits into the former category, and it is 1-of-12 produced by the company during the 1960s. It presents superbly, and below the skin hides a chassis and drivetrain from a 1962 Austin-Healey. The owner has decided to part with this rare beast, so he has listed it for sale here on Craigslist. It is located in Morgan Hill, California, and the owner has set the sale price at $28,500, although it appears that he will entertain offers. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder MattR for spotting the Banshee for us.

Fiberfab was a company that operated out of Palo Alto, California, and they initially produced fiberglass add-ons for Corvettes and Mustangs. Then, they diversified into their own range of vehicles, offering these as both kits or turn-key cars. Russell and Chris Beebe designed the Banshee, and the company only produced twelve kits before they were approached by General Motors, who wished to buy the Banshee name. The company accepted GM’s offer, and they then created a mildly reworked form of the original Banshee that carried the name Caribee. The styling of the Banshee is distinctive, with lines that are not unlike the Shelby Daytona Coupe. Fiberfab devised a method of bonding the fiberglass body to steel tubing to provide greater stiffness and allow for the inclusion of gullwing doors in the design. Those features remain intact on this vehicle, and the first thing that struck me is how nicely the panels fit together on this kit car. There are none of the yawning gaps that seem to be a hallmark of this type of vehicle. The fit is tight and consistent, while the panels and Red paint appear to be flawless. The wire wheels look period correct, and the exterior chrome is in excellent order. Apart from the gullwing design, one of the other exterior features that grabs your attention is the rear window. Fiberfab produced these in plexiglass, and this one, along with the remaining glass, is in good order. Since the owner took these photos, he has installed a set of custom headlight covers of a similar design to the ones fitted to the early Jaguar E-Type. These add a nice finishing touch, providing a more integrated look to the vehicle’s overall styling.

Kit car interiors are just as prone to bad fit and finish as the exterior. While the Banshee will never be mistaken for an Aston Martin, the overall appearance is pretty acceptable. The upholstered surfaces and carpet fit well, as does the dash. The gauge cluster isn’t up to the standard of the rest of the trim, but the buyer could fix this issue with little cost or effort. The timber that the builder chose has a cheap look to it, and its fit on a couple of corners is found wanting. However, the buyer might be able to fabricate a replacement from walnut or birch to provide a more integrated look. Otherwise, there isn’t much that it needs. The gauges are crisp and clear, the seats look comfortable and supportive, and a radio/cassette player would offer entertainment on the move. However, that last item is another feature that I might consider changing. It is a long way for the driver to reach across to make any adjustments to the stereo, so I would be tempted to replace it with something more modern that includes a remote control. The market is awash with vintage-look alternatives, and it would potentially improve the safety of all concerned.

Hiding below that stylish fiberglass body is a chassis and drivetrain from a 1962 Austin-Healey. I believe that this is a 3000, which would provide the Banshee with a 2,912cc six-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. The owner doesn’t specify whether the transmission is equipped with the optional overdrive, but if it is, that is a nice bonus for the buyer if they are considering long-distance travel. With 130hp on tap, the donor car would’ve been capable of covering the ¼ mile in around 17 seconds. The basic Banshee fiberglass body might have been expected to prune a few pounds off the vehicle’s overall weight to improve that figure, but I believe that the reality could be slightly different. If the Banshee’s body was a roadster, that concept is possible. However, the integrated steel tubing and the reinforcement required for the gullwing doors will probably make the weights between the two vehicles line-ball. The owner admits that the Banshee had been sitting for 30-years, but he has returned it to a roadworthy state. This process included fitting a new clutch, along with other tasks. He describes the vehicle as being well-sorted, so the next stop for the buyer will be to hit the road for the classic motoring experience.

I’m generally not a massive fan of kit cars, although I understand where they fit into the grand scheme of things. Not everyone can afford an Aston, a Ferrari, or a Shelby. However, these are vehicles that offer an affordable alternative, and if the work is executed well, the results can be pretty impressive. There are several things that I find attractive about this Banshee. The first is that the fit and finish across the entire vehicle are well above what you typically expect from a kit car. Most kit cars are based on the venerable VW Beetle chassis and drivetrain, and that’s where this classic holds its ace. Below that stylish and stunning exterior hide the chassis and drivetrain from a genuine sports car. That makes it less of a compromise and should allow it to provide respectable performance and exhilarating handling. This Banshee isn’t cheap for a kit car, but then again, it is a rung or two above the competition. Is that enough to tempt you to pursue this one further?

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Comments

  1. sg

    About 20 years ago I passed on buying a Healey powered Banshee project at an estate sale, and it sold for just a couple hundred bucks. I’ve never been a kit car fan, but the Banshee is one of the better looking designs, and the Healey motor would’ve been a lot of fun. I still kick myself, but at least I came home with a really solid TR3A project.

    The model became the Caribee after the Banshee name was dropped.

    Like 3
  2. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    If this is the same Chris Beebe of Foreign Car Specialists, it is of no surprise that this kit is such a brilliant design. BF reader Wayne sold an MGBGT to him and we had the good fortune to deliver the car. During lunch we saw some of the restorations he’d undertaken which had required meticulous historical research, an amazing imagination, fabrication, and a great deal of patience.

    This is a cut above any “kit” around IMHO! Terrific combination with the underpinnings used.

    Like 3
  3. james

    I am a huge kit car fan. I have owned a couple and indeed spent a short time running the great Tom Mcburnie Daytona and GTO shop here in California. This projects looks like the way we did ours way back then. If I wasn’t such an old geezer I would snap this baby right up. Who ever is lucky enough to grab this important piece of history will be a lucky person. Keep them wheels rolling.

    Like 1
  4. Lowell Peterson

    3 carb Healey is kinda rare itself and wonderful too! Very kool car! Dare to be different and very nice too!

    Like 4
    • Solosolo Member

      I had what I thought was a Big Healey 3000 that also had a triple carb cylinder head. It didn’t perform as well as I thought it should and, after driving it head on into a steel crash barrier I repaired it and then sold it on to an Austin Healey restorer. I saw it at a show a couple of years later and the guy told me that when I owned it the motor was a 2.6 litre and not a 3000.

      Like 2
  5. Howie Mueler

    Yes it looks very nice, but that dollar amount can get you so much more.

    Like 4
  6. dogwater

    nice car the price is fair

    Like 3
  7. Neil

    Glad to say both the Beebe brothers are still with us, and contribute on the Fiberfab Jamaican Facebook page

    Like 5
  8. Jcs

    Must admit that the burl endcaps on the dash panel trim is an interesting albeit odd choice.

    Like 1
  9. Terrry

    Kudos to the dash. The tach is where it needs to be. You don’t need a speedo that’s actually visible. Either you’re passing everyone or they’re passing you!

    Like 1
  10. jbourne

    One of my first pictures taken when I was around 9 yrs old with a Diana F camera. Developed picture to an 8×10—which I still have……….

    Like 3
  11. John

    Rather than replace the wood veneer with a different type of wood, I would replace it with brushed aluminum or an engine turned finish. Would look much nicer in this interior and more befitting this car.

    Like 1
  12. losgatos_dale

    Too bad it’d drive like a big Healey

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