Old School Americana & Nostalgia


What Happened to the Pontiac Trans Am From ‘Smokey and the Bandit’?

What Happened to the Pontiac Trans Am From ‘Smokey and the Bandit’?

In 1977, Smokey and the Bandit introduced Bo “The Bandit” Darville’s black Pontiac Trans Am, and it nearly stole the show from Burt Reynolds. The car is so iconic that generations of fans often wonder what happened to the screen-used muscle car.

The Pontiac Trans Am from the movie Smokey and the Bandit showcases its prowess while diverting law enforcement’s attention. Acting as a distraction, it aids a daring trucker in illicitly transporting 400 cases of beer from Texas to Atlanta.

Directed by renowned stuntman Hal Needham, the Bandit’s car takes center stage. Of course, the film is enhanced by the undeniable charm of Burt Reynolds at the peak of his swagger.

The cultural impact of the 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit is truly remarkable. Not only was it a box office hit, second only to Star Wars, but it left a lasting impression on popular culture. The film’s soundtrack, featuring Jerry Reed’s iconic “East Bound and Down,” was so influential that comedian Danny McBride paid homage to it by naming his HBO comedy series Eastbound & Down.

The ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ Pontiac Isn’t Actually the Model Depicted

Although the cars depicted in the film bear resemblance to the 1977-model-year Trans Ams, they were, in fact, 1976 models. At the time of filming, the 1977 model had not yet been released. To accommodate this, General Motors supplied 1976 cars fitted with front clips from the upcoming 1977 update.

The differences between the two are quite significant. The 1977 model showcases rectangular quad headlamps instead of the usual two round lights, according to Top Speed. It also has a distinctively slanted and V-shaped nose, and a hood scoop positioned at the center. As for the engine, the 400 cid remained virtually unchanged from 1976 to 1977. This eliminated the need to replace it with a new one for the upcoming model.

Only One Pontiac Trans Am Used for ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ Survives

Pontiac provided director Needham with four cars for Smokey and the Bandit – three for use in the film and one as a promotional vehicle to drive around and promote the movie after its release.

Unfortunately, the three cars used in the movie were destroyed during various stunts. This makes the promo car the only surviving Trans Am associated with the film. In addition to the four Trans Ams, Needham also received two Pontiac LeMans models to be used as patrol cars in the movie.

The promo Pontiac for Smokey and the Bandit sold at auction in 2016 for $550,000.