If you’re familiar with the videos on Jay Leno’s Garage, you know Jay is a bonafide gearhead who manages to get his hands on some very cool and exclusive hardware on a regular basis. While there’s rarely been a time we’ve seen Jay anything less than stoked to be behind the wheel of whatever rolls into the garage, he has clearly taken a particular fancy to this wild Oldsmobile 442 off-road racer.
James Garner may be known in popular culture as an actor, but he also had an extensive racing career that rivaled Steve McQueen’s. Off-road competition was his discipline of choice, and Garner raced behind the wheel of Broncos, various pickups and other vehicles, but none were as unique as this Oldsmobile Cutlass, dubbed The Banshee.
The car is currently owned and raced by Jon Swift, who considers the Banshee to be a predecessor to modern trophy trucks. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the Banshee is the location of its all-aluminum LS3 motor – basically right in the middle of the car, mounted where the passenger seat would be. “You can literally tune the carb while you’re driving”, says Jon.
The motor was situated where it is to help with weight balance so that the car will stay level when airborne. A beefed up TH400 gearbox backs the LS3, while the design of the Banshee’s super-cool bodywork was done by none other than custom car builder George Barris.
After some pre-flight checks, Jay decides to hit the town in this not-really-street-legal racer, and then gleefully hoons the Banshee around a dirt lot for good measure.