Ask any car fan and they’ll tell you the Trans Am featured in Smokey and the Bandit is one of the film’s biggest stars. Even film fans have to agree that the 1977 Special Edition Trans Am driven by the Bandit garnered as much attention as the lead actors of the film, Burt Reynolds and Sally Field. It is one of the few movies that offers a featured star for both car and film fans alike.
Director and stuntman Hal Needham said that he knew the Trans Am had to be “a character” in the movie as soon as he saw a commercial for the upcoming 1977 Special edition model. While the Bandit made the 1977 edition famous, the truth is that the car used in the film was actually a 76 model with a front end from the 1977 model. Regardless, once Smokey and the Bandit hit the silver screen, America fell absolutely head over heels for the Trans Am.
The Trans Am wasn’t some Johnny Come Lately, though. It had actually been in production since the late 1960s. The model featured in 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit movie was part of the second generation of Trans Am models and it boasted a markedly different, slant-nosed style. Thanks to the popularity of the film, this iteration of the Trans Am became the face of the 1970s and early 80s in terms of muscle cars. When production began for Smokey and the Bandit II, the team chose the 1980 Turbo Trans Am. The 1980 Turbo edition looked just like the 1977 Special Edition but included a number of engine upgrades in the wake of emissions laws that passed during the intervening years.
Nearly four decades later, America remains thoroughly smitten by the ’77 Trans Am. While the Pontiac brand may be gone, the public’s love affair with the Trans Am has never been stronger. In January of 2016, a ’77 Trans Am used as a promotional vehicle for the movie was sold at an online auction for more than half a million dollars. The public demand for all things Trans Am offers more than just hefty auction returns, though.
Trans Am Depot is a specialty shop operating out of Tallahassee, Florida that bought the exclusive rights to the Trans Am brand after Pontiac ceased operations. The company offers custom build Trans Am cars to the public. In 2016, they announced the launch of a line of Trans Am cars based on the infamous Smokey and the Bandit model.
The Bandit Edition is a modified 2015 fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro, tricked out with gold decals against paint so black it would impress Johnny Cash. In a nod to the year of the original Bandit, the Bandit Edition is also a limited run of 77 vehicles, each crafted to the highest standards and signed by none other than Reynolds himself. And it’s not just another pretty face. The Bandit comes complete with an engine to back up its impressive looks. The Limited Edition Bandit boasts a lowered suspension with a cold-air intake 7.4-liter General Motors V8 engine that’s been supercharged to 840 horsepower. With a price tag starting around $115,000 The Bandit Edition isn’t for everyone. But for those with the money to spare, it’s their best chance at recapturing that sense of freedom and adventure they experienced as a child.