The Bandit's '77 Trans Am | A True Classic
This 1977 Trans Am is the last Bandit car ever owned by Burt Reynolds. Made popular by Smokey and the Bandit, the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am is an iconic movie car that is sought after today. After the movie, General Motors sold thousands of these black and gold special edition Trans Ams. See the story behind this gorgeous example.
Hi folks and welcome to Center Lane, I'm Bruce Hitchen. Today we're in Chilliwack, British Columbia and I'm here at the home of Brandon and Kevin Mindel. This is a private collection of beautiful cars, mostly movie cars but there's a whole bunch of different cars here. Today we're going to be focusing on this gorgeous Bandit Trans Am now there's something extremely special about this car which makes it unique and I'm going to reveal that towards the end of this episode but right now we're going to talk about this car it's actually signed by Bert Reynolds himself so it's a legitimate movie car. Now, if if you like my content please like and subscribe to my channel. We're going to talk to Brandon about the background behind this car.
We got started uh a few years ago with a replica time machine um and ultimately I was getting married, I was planning a wedding and I wanted to rent a time machine for wedding photos. There wasn't anything in the area and my dad was putting together a car collection and as a child of the 80s he decided you know what, I'm going to add a time machine to my collection cuz I thought that, he thought that that' be pretty unique and cool. So I got to drive my wife and I off from our wedding in the time machine.
The time machine was the first car that opened the door for Brandon and his dad to find more movie cars to add to their collection.
Once you start becoming something like a movie car collector, they find you. People send you listings, you get into this network of finding auctions all over the world that are selling replica cars or screen used cars and it kind of just snowballs into a big 80 plus car collection now. When we were starting the car collection the Bandit Trans Am was always high on the list. It is a very iconic vehicle from the the Striking like black and gold coloring to the you know the the screaming Chicken on the hood.
Does this thing move? Oh ya! [Music]
In reality the 77 Trans Am didn't move all that well. Due to increased emission controls during the 70s the 400cc engine only delivered 200 horsepower and 325 lbs of torque the TA's 0 to 60 time was over 9 seconds. One of Pontiac's marketing ploy was to display the engine size in liters on the hood scoop. You can see the TA 6.6 L decal.
Hal Needham, the director of Smokey the the Bandit, he was a stunt man um before being a director. When the story for smoking the Bandit came about, he was friends with Bert Reynolds, approached Bert Reynolds to showed him this script essentially and Bert Reynolds was super excited about the script.
With Bert Reynolds name now associated with the project Needan was able to convince General Motors to give him four cars. Three to be used in the movie and one to be used as a promotional car. That car never got used for promotion because they ended up needing all of them to shoot the movie.
They used 76 Trans Ams with a 77 front end because they hadn't even come out yet the 77 Trans Am and they destroyed all of them. Famously for one of the scenes near the end of the movie they had to push the car into frame because there it was their last runner and it still wouldn't start.
Breaker-one, breaker-one this is the Bandit. Is a snowman out there?
Part of the inspiration for it was this CB boom that was happening at the time. I actually, I've actually tracked down the exact same Pace CB 166. The exact same model CB radio that the Bandit uses in the car. I like props, I like to find the same type of thing. I gather the information using screenshots or, you know, Internet research and then I like to find those particular items.
It just so happened that while we were in the process of building this car collection a number of years ago Bert Reynolds owned Bandit Trans Am came up for sale. And I remember we were working working out in our backyard, in our chicken coupe. And dad came over and showed me the listing and I remember his words saying like well if you're going to own a b a bandit car you might as well own one that was owned by Bert Reynolds and so we ended up you know participating in the auction, obviously we won the auction and since then now we're the ones who take care of to be believed, Bert Reynolds last Bandit replica that he owned
Providing the cars for the movie turned out to be a good decision for General Motors. Smokey in the Bandit was a huge success and sales of the Trans Am soared after the release of the film.
So the movie came out May 77 and the boom didn't come out until the 78 models came out which I know they sold double of what they sold in 77 after the movie came out so the boom sort of happened there and I think a lot of it is just it like, it looks cool and the the black and gold package like it's, it's a good looking car. The fact that we're still talking about this car and Smoky and the Bandit 40 plus years later, it just goes to show you how good the movie is. For a movie that is essentially two characters in a car the entire movie. Right. Maybe another character in a semi-truck or another two characters in a police car. These are all scenes that take place in vehicles. Comparing it to Star Wars which is a Sci-Fi action movie, it's just it just goes to show you the charisma of Bert Reynolds and Sally Field and everybody involved in this film that we're still celebrating it even though it came out the same weekend as Star Wars.
I love these cars, I appreciate these cars. We have a family history of classic cars. The truth is I really don't know a lot about cars. I would not consider myself a gearhead but I'm a huge movie buff and I've always been a movie buff. Ever since I can remember I've always been obsessed with movies and TV and and pop culture. I don't know a lot about engines and stuff but I can tell you a lot about the movies and I can tell you a lot about the cars' involvement in the history of the particular movie that it's a representation from.
Now, what's that thing that makes this TransAm ultra rare?
This is Bert Reynolds 77 Trans Am. He technically still owns this car. We have the original
title paperwork with his printed name and signature on it. We haven't put it into our names. This car is still owned by the Bandit himself Mr Bert Reynolds. It's believed that it's the last TransAm that he purchased restored and sold before he passed away. Well, I like to say we take care of all these cars so it's kind of an honor to be able to take care of Burt's Trans Am. Whenever I see it, whenever I think about it I go like I, I can't believe that it's here in our collection. Bert's car it's just, it's a small little connection to the man himself, insignificant but makes me feel special.