As Burt’s ‘Smokey & The Bandit’ Firebird is Sold, How Reynolds Got Gypped By GM
"Smokey and the Bandit" is one of the most iconic movies of the 1970's and one of the biggest money makers of all time. The car Burt Reynolds drove in the movie, the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am was just auctioned off for almost $500,000 through Barrett-Jackson.
In case you're wondering, the car came with air conditioning, a 180hp 400ci Pontiac V8 engine, M40 automatic transmission and T-tops. Barrett-Jackson says Reynolds didn't drive it all that much (reportedly it had only about 3,600 miles when Reynold sold it) and stored it at his home in Jupiter, Florida. Reynolds, as his health was failing, sold it in late 2014, and that buyer did some professional restoration, but the scuff marks from Burt's boots are still there. Whomever bought it now is only the third owner of the car.
Here's where the story gets interesting. Barrett-Jackson description says the "Starlight Black-and-Gold 1977 Trans Am Special Edition was a promotional vehicle later gifted to Reynolds as a "thank you" for his pivotal role in its massive success." They're not telling you the whole story.
Here's a tidbit from IMDb.com:
On the DVD documentary, Burt Reynolds says that a senior executive at Pontiac promised him a free Trans-Am if the movie became a hit. It did and the 1977 T-Top Trans-Am became one of the hottest selling cars of the year. When the movie became a hit, Reynolds expected the executive to come through with his promise. But the Trans-Am never came. After a few months, Reynolds, (who was afraid of looking like one of those pretentious stars looking for freebies), finally called Pontiac. - IMDb.com
The folks at Pontiac told him that the executive who promised him a Firebird "for life" had died. And even though Trans-Am sales went through the roof, Reynolds claimed he had to buy the car himself. Here's Reynolds telling the story himself.
Stories vary as to how many cars Pontiac provided the production during filming. Estimates vary between 3 and 12 Trans-Ams (and upwards of 20 Bonnevilles). When it came time to make Smokey II, getting cars wasn't a problem. At all.