Cars That Were Stars: The 1977 Pontiac Trans Am.

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by Brett Anaya

One of my favorite hobbies when I am away from work would be going to the
movies. I love movies of all genres and time periods. While many of my peers tend
to watch current films and television shows, I myself have always been drawn to
classics from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. But, regardless of time period, I have noticed
something about action films. Nearly every action movie has three factors that they
share with one another: they have shootouts and explosions, a damsel in distress,
and my favorite, a cool car! In this segment will we be going over some of the cars
that were stars in the film industry!

One of the first movies that comes to mind when I think about famous cars would
be the 1977 classic, Smokey and the Bandit. Smokey and the Bandit tells the tale of
Bo Darville on his journey of illegally running beer from Texas to Georgia, all
while narrowly escaping the grasp of Sheriff Buford T. Justice. This movie, with a
star-studded cast of Burt Reynolds, Jackie Gleason, Sally Field, and Jerry Reed
was an instant hit, and is still referenced to this very day. But there was one more
cast member, whose performance rivaled even that of Mr. Reynolds: the 1977
Pontiac Trans Am.

With its solid black body paint, gold rims and detailing, and a matching gold
“Firebird” directly on the hood, the Pontiac Trans Am was the definition of
American muscle. From the very first time that Bo Darville shows Cletus the car,
you knew that it was something special. With the low rumble of the idling W72 8-
cylinder engine, Darville suddenly peels out of the driveway. The tires squeal, the
engine roars, and just like that, Bo Darville is on his way. At many moments in the
film, I believe that the Pontiac successful managed to steal the limelight from its
cast members. The screaming of the tires overpowering any other line in the
movie, and that is saying something!

Smokey and the Bandit earned about $300 million at the box office. While I would
assume that the appearance on the big screen helped Pontiac to push thousands of
units at the time, it would be pretty much impossible to complete an accurate ROI
after forty years! But the fact of the matter is, the Pontiac Trans Am is now a staple
vehicle in American history, the 1977 model from the film being one of the most
popular. In 2016, a promotional Trans Am that was used in the original film sold
for $550,000, and, although this movie is over a decade before my time, whenever
I think about a Pontiac Trans Am I imagine the black-with- gold-trim, T-top body
style that Burt Reynolds was behind the wheel of. In Smokey and the Bandit, the
car truly was the star.