Home Celebrity Surprising Facts About The Legendary “Smokey and The Bandit” Trans Am

Surprising Facts About The Legendary “Smokey and The Bandit” Trans Am

Cameron Eittreim May 1, 2023

They’re rare, but there are a few classic muscle cars that made a direct impact on pop culture. These are cars like the Dodge Charger from ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ or Steve McQueen’s classic forest green “Bullit” Mustang. The thing that sets a true pop culture classic apart from the pack is the unique attention to detail that went into it. The legendary Trans Am from the Burt Reynolds hit “Smokey and the Bandit” was arguably the most memorable in terms of pop culture muscle cars.

Reynolds and Sally Field were instrumental in making “Smokey and The Bandit” a memorable movie. There was just something about its black and gold paint job and rocket hood that made it stand out. You could even say it was the car that catapulted both of their careers into superstardom. The film had two sequels and remains one of the most popular car movies to date. The original Trans Am has been copied and restored by many custom builders, but nothing beats the original. We looked at some facts that you might be surprised to know about the ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ Trans Am right here, so buckle up.

Photo Credit: Mecum

The Car Was A 1976 Model

In the 1977 film, the iconic black and gold Trans Am driven by Burt Reynolds’ character, Bandit, is often remembered as a 1977 model. However, the car used in the film was actually a 1976 model that was modified to look like a 1977 model. The reason for this is that the 1977 Trans Am was not yet available when filming began in the fall of 1976. Pontiac only provided two pre-production 1977 Trans Ams (via Slash Gear).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The modifications included a new front end with a blacked-out grille, hood scoop, and gold trim accents on the body. To further enhance the car’s performance and appearance, the filmmakers turned to car customizer Gene Winfield, who then made even more changes to the car.

Photo Credit: Stunts Unlimited

The Stunts Were Crazy

“Smokey and the Bandit” is perhaps best known for its thrilling car chases and stunts. The stunts in the film were performed by a team of skilled drivers and stunt performers because they were that dangerous. One of the most memorable stunts in the film was the scene where the Bandit jumps a partially collapsed bridge (via Slash Gear).

Photo Credit: Stunts Unlimited

The ramp was designed to launch the car at the right speed and angle to clear the gap in the bridge. Another memorable stunt in the film was the scene where the Bandit and his partner Snowman use the Trans Am to jump a police car parked across the highway. The stunt was performed using a specially designed ramp and a remote control police car.

Photo Credit: Stunt Car Database

Three Trans Ams Were Destroyed During Filming

The filming of “Smokey and the Bandit” was not without risks. Three Pontiac Trans Ams were destroyed to make the movie as a result. The first Trans Am destroyed was a pre-production 1977 model provided by Pontiac for use in the film. During filming, the car was damaged beyond repair while performing a high-speed jump over a creek. The car was replaced with a modified 1976 model. The second Trans Am to be destroyed was a modified 1976 model used for close-up shots and interior shots (via Slash Gear).

Photo Credit: Stunt Car Database

The car was destroyed in a crash while filming a scene where the Bandit’s car crashed into a police car. The third and final Trans Am to be destroyed was also a modified 1976 model. The car was destroyed during the filming of the climactic chase scene where it crashes into a roadblock and explodes into flames.

Photo Credit: Mecum

The Fourth and Final Prop Car Had To Be Pushed

The production of “Smokey and the Bandit” had many challenges, one of which involved the fourth and final prop car used in the climactic chase scene. This particular car, a modified 1976 Trans Am designed to look like Bandit’s car, suffered a mechanical failure during filming and had to be pushed to complete the scene. During a take, the car came to a stop on the side of the road (via Slash Gear).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Although the production team attempted to fix the car on site, it quickly became clear that the repairs would take too long and delay filming. In a moment of quick thinking, the team decided to push the car instead of repairing it. With a team of crew members off-camera, the car was manually pushed down the highway while cameras continued to roll.

Photo Credit: Page Six

They Had to Sell Pontiac On The Idea

When the idea was first proposed to use a Pontiac Trans Am in “Smokey and the Bandit,” filmmakers had to convince General Motors that it was a good idea. At the time, Pontiac was reluctant to allow their cars to be used in movies as they were concerned about how their brand would be portrayed on screen. To sell Pontiac on the idea, the filmmakers had to pitch the idea in a way that would highlight the Trans Am’s unique features (via Slash Gear).

Photo Credit: Page Six

They believed this would generate positive buzz around the car and help boost sales. Ultimately, Pontiac was convinced by the filmmakers’ pitch and agreed to allow the Trans Am to be used in the film. This decision proved wise, as the film was a box office success and helped cement the Trans Am’s status as an icon of American muscle cars.

Photo Credit: Bleeding Cool

Burt Reynolds Was Promised A Free Trans Am

During the filming of “Smokey and the Bandit,” Burt Reynolds, who played the lead character of the Bandit, was promised a free Trans Am by representatives of Pontiac. This promise was made as part of the agreement to allow the Trans Am to be used in the film. At the time, Reynolds wasn’t a household name and wasn’t yet a Hollywood superstar. However, he was already known for his love of cars and racing and was thrilled to drive a Trans Am in the film (via Slash Gear).

Photo Credit: Bleeding Cool

Reynolds and the film’s producers reminded Pontiac of their promise to give him a free Trans Am. Pontiac was true to their word and Reynolds received a black and gold Trans Am as a gift from the car manufacturer. He was often seen driving his Trans Am around town. The gift of the Trans Am also reminded us of the important role cars have played in American pop culture.

Photo Credit: Rotten Tomatoes

The Smokey and The Bandit Trans Am Had a Shaker Hood

One of the notable features of the Trans Am used in “Smokey and the Bandit” was its shaker hood. A shaker hood is a type of performance hood scoop that moves up and down with the engine’s vibrations, hence the “shaker” name. The shaker hood on the Trans Am in the film was a functional part of the car’s air intake system (via Slash Gear).

Photo Credit: Rotten Tomatoes

The hood was also a nod to the classic muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s. The shaker hood on the Trans Am in “Smokey and the Bandit” was a popular feature in the 1960s. It was often cited as one of the reasons why the Trans Am was such an iconic car.

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The Film Boosted The Trans Am’s Sales

The film was a box office success, grossing over $300 million worldwide and becoming one of the highest-grossing films of 1977. Due to the popularity of the film, many fans of the movie flocked to dealerships. The car’s sleek design, powerful engine, and sporty handling all contributed to its appeal among car enthusiasts. But it was the car’s association with the film that truly made it a cultural icon (via Get Jerry).

Photo Credit: Car Scoops

The success of “Smokey and the Bandit” also helped elevate the profile of the Trans Am in popular culture. The car became a symbol of American masculinity and style. Today, the Trans Am remains a beloved muscle car. It has an association with “Smokey and the Bandit” that continues to be celebrated by fans of the film.

Photo Credit: Mecum

It Affected Pontiac’s Production Plans

The boost in sales of the Trans Am had a significant impact on the company’s production plans. Pontiac had planned to discontinue production of the Trans Am due to low sales figures. However, the success of the film and the resulting surge in demand for the Trans Am forced the company to reconsider its plans. Pontiac ultimately decided to continue producing the car (via Get Jerry).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The popularity of the Trans Am also led to the development of several special edition models. These special editions included cars like the 10th Anniversary Trans Am. The Firebird Formula was another one, which boasted a powerful V8 engine and sporty handling.

Photo Credit: Rotten Tomatoes

The Film’s Director Chose The Car

“Smokey and the Bandit” director Hal Needham was a former stuntman and racer who had a deep love for cars. According to Needham, he had originally planned to use a different car in the film but changed his mind after seeing a Trans Am at a car show. The car’s sleek lines struck him. He was convinced it would be the perfect choice for the film’s high-speed chase scenes (via Get Jerry).

Photo Credit: Rotten Tomatoes

Needham’s decision to feature the Trans Am in the film proved to be a stroke of genius. The car quickly became an iconic symbol of American muscle cars and racing culture. The film’s success helped propel the Trans Am into the mainstream and cemented its status as a beloved cultural icon for generations of car enthusiasts.

Photo Credit: Mecum

The Black and Gold Paint Scheme Was Exclusive

The distinctive color scheme, which consists of a black exterior with gold accents and trim is a Pontiac exclusive. The film’s director Hal Needham chose the black and gold color scheme. The color scheme was also intended to pay homage to the iconic black and gold uniforms worn by the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, one of Needham’s favorite teams (via Get Jerry).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The black and gold paint scheme quickly became closely associated with the Trans Am. The color scheme was available as an option on 1977 and 1978 Trans Ams. The color was so popular that Pontiac continued to offer it as a special edition. The 1977 Trans Am also featured some other unique design elements. These included a shaker hood scoop and a special “screaming chicken” decal on the hood.

Photo Credit: Classics

The Stock Engines Broke All The Rules

The 1977 Trans Am was available with a range of V8 engines, including a 6.6-liter option that produced 200 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft of torque. In the film, the Trans Am is shown performing various impressive stunts. The car can be seen jumping over a bridge and outrunning a police car. Some of these stunts were accomplished with special effects and camera tricks. But the car’s actual performance was a key factor in making these scenes (via Get Jerry).

Photo Credit: Curbside Classics

The Trans Am’s speed and handling were also important factors in its success as a high-performance vehicle. The car’s suspension was tuned for maximum handling, and its large disc brakes provided excellent stopping power. The Trans Am’s rear-wheel drive and wide tires also helped improve traction and acceleration, allowing it to achieve impressive speeds.

Photo Credit: Mecum

It Was Auctioned Off For $275,000

The “Smokey and the Bandit” Trans Am is obviously very famous in the movie car world. After the movie’s release in 1977, the car went on tour to promote the film, It was sold to a private collector in 1986. Over the years, the car changed hands several times before being auctioned off in 2016 for an impressive sum of $275,000. The car’s popularity and unique place in film history undoubtedly contributed to its high sale price (via Get Jerry).

Photo Credit: Mecum

However, it’s also worth noting that the car itself was a highly sought-after and rare model. The car was sold at auction by Julien’s Auctions. The auction attracted a lot of interest from car enthusiasts and film fans alike. The Trans Am ultimately sold for well above its estimated value.

Photo Credit: Hagerty

Similarities With The Camaro

The 1977 Trans Am and the Chevrolet Camaro were both produced by General Motors on the same platform. Both cars featured classic American muscle car styling, with long hoods, short rear decks, and aggressive front grilles. Under the hood, the 1977 Trans Am and Camaro shared many of the same engine options. Although the Camaro was less expensive the Trans Am gained a lot of popularity (via Get Jerry).

Photo Credit: Hegarty

The Camaro was known for its excellent handling and was often favored by racing enthusiasts. While the Trans Am and Camaro shared many similarities, there were also key differences between the two cars. The Trans Am was often viewed as the more luxurious and upscale of the two. The Camaro, on the other hand, was often seen as the more budget-friendly option.

Photo Credit: Barrett Jackson

It’s One Of The Greatest Prop Cars Ever

The “Smokey and the Bandit” Trans Am is without a doubt one of the most iconic prop cars in history. Its paint scheme, shaker hood, and other distinctive features are instantly recognizable. The car was an essential part of the film’s storyline. From high-speed chases to daring stunts, the Trans Am captured the hearts and imaginations of viewers around the world. Despite its status as a beloved film prop, the car was much more than just a pretty face (via Get Jerry).

Photo Credit: Barrett Jackson

Under the hood, the Trans Am was powered by a powerful V8 engine capable of delivering impressive speed and performance. This made it not only a great prop car but also a highly desirable and sought-after vehicle. Over the years, the “Smokey and the Bandit” Trans Am has become a cultural icon. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest prop cars in history. Although there were other popular prop cars like the Dodge Charger in ‘Dukes of Hazard,’ the Trans Am from ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ was an unstoppable icon.

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