DETROIT — ‘Eastbound and Down’ to AutoRama to not only celebrate its 65th anniversary, but also the 40th anniversary of Smokey and the Bandit with the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.
Directed by Hal Needham, the movie made Burt Reynolds the king of the box office as the Bandit, the king of showoffs who’s being chased by Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) when he and his friend Snowman (Jerry Reed) are illegally hauling 400 cases of beer to Texas for the money, the glory, the fun, and most of all, the money: $80,000. The fun and glory also includes Sally Field as Carrie, the runaway bride the Bandit picks up – yet the groom of her botched wedding was Junior, the son of Sheriff Buford, who’s in hot pursuit of the couple.
“We thought we’d build some tribute cars to the show and the movie,” said Paul Semian of PFS Restorations. “This is a Y84 special edition Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am. Scott Paige built these nut and bolts. A couple of years ago, Barrett-Jackson sold one of them for well over $100,000.”
Smokey and the Bandit became the second-grossing film of 1977 opposite George Lucas’ Star Wars: spawning 1980’s Smokey and the Bandit II with Burt, Sally, Gleason, and Reed reprising their roles, and 1983’s Smokey and the Bandit, Part 3 with Burt making only a cameo appearance as Reed became the new Bandit against Gleason’s relentless Justice.
But by the third film, ‘The Bandit Express’ was coming to an end, but the popularity and impact of the original ‘Bandit’ led to CBS’ The Dukes of Hazzard in 1979 with Tom Wopat and John Schneider as one-armed bandits Bo and Luke Duke, cousins fighting the system as modern-day Robin Hoods against Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best), who was forever in ‘hot pursuit’ of those good ‘ol Duke boys and their orange 1969 Dodge Charger known as ‘The General Lee’. Premiering on Friday, January 26, 1979, Dukes was a hit with viewers and lasted seven successful seasons.