1985: Trans Am Grim Sleeper

What started out as a simple call from a wealthy South African industrialist looking for a recommendation for the fastest exotic car he could buy escalated into one of the most powerful street-driven vehicles ever built by Banks. It needed to be super quick, capable of repeatable runs, handle at the track like it was on rails, stop on a dime, be docile enough to drive to get groceries, and be able to operate at high altitudes. With all the boxes checked Gale set off on making his monster. Starting out as a (then) new 1983 Pontiac Trans-Am right off the showroom floor quickly became a twin-turbocharged land-based rocket putting down a legitimate 1,100 horsepower to the asphalt… and that power number was conservative with more waiting in reserve.

With wind tunnel tested aero additions borrowed from Bank’s own Land-Speed record Trans-Am, the car’s slippery body was capable of speeds in excess of 250 mph. This wasn’t just a project that featured bolt-on additions or an engine swap, but an entire vehicle built within the original donor car’s body so that it would keep the sheepish appearance of a normal street car, and hide the power and brutal wolf underneath. Every nut, bolt, and mechanical part was modified or replaced to ensure repeatable and reliable performance. This beast wasn’t meant to just go in a straight line, the transmission, brakes, cooling system, and suspension system for example were built with plenty in reserve allowing the car to slalom, handle, stop and accelerate to ludicrous speeds.

In the end, Banks built the monster and the customer set the record at 406 kph (240+ mph) at the South African National Speed Trials (6000’ of altitude)… then he drove it home. We’re told this beast still stalks the streets to this very day… looking for fresh prey to snack on.