The Banshee died, but the engine lived to power the Pontiac models developed in 1967, including the new Firebird. The 1968 Pontiac Firebird Sprint was a separate model with unique badging, heavy duty suspension, and the ‘ZE’ cammed engine. This engine had a four-barrel carburetor with chrome air cleaner, producing 215 HP at 5,500 Rpm. This engine option was more expensive than the 350 cubic inch V8, and, as a result, the Sprint never really took-off.
Jay Leno has always dreamed of owning one of these, and when the opportunity came in 2019, he jumped on it. His team did a minor restomod on it. They pulled out the engine and rebuilt it with performance modifications such as cams, bigger pistons, and a Tremec TKX 5-speed transmission.
The 1968 Sprint, unlike most American muscle cars of the era, had smaller wheels, a V6, and low-end torque. However, where the '60s Camaro and Corvette lost, the Firebird won. It came with stellar handling from the get-go, with multi-springs and staggered shocks on the rear. It had an efficient and reliable engine with remarkable advances. This pony car was light, with a good power-to-weight ratio, making it the perfect American car to compete with European roadsters.
The unique hood tachometer, '60s styling, and handling package make all the difference in the world. According to Leno, it’s one of the few cars from that era where the engine doesn’t overpower the chassis.