It has been 1 year since legendary American actor Burt Reynolds passed leaving behind friends, fans and thousands of mustache-loving ladies! Since a large majority of his films had him behind the wheel of a car and performing all manner of dangerous stunts, he was referred to as one of the great drivers in US popular culture. But, if he had it his way, he wouldn't have been a movie star at all - he was chasing a career as a pro football player but a serious knee injury (followed by a life-threatening car accident) put paid to that.
Since his passing at age 82, we have been watching Smokey and the Bandit parts 1, 2 and even 3 (it's worth it for his little cameo at the end) and all of his other action comedies - but not many people know that before his film career took off, he was a stuntman and aside from jumping off horses and throwing/taking a punch, boy could he drive!
Here, we take a look at his three most memorable on screen stars — the 1977 Trans am (Smokey and the Bandit), 1968 Camaro SS (Cop and a Half) and 1978 GMC K10 Stepside (Hooper). But before we delve into those iconic cars we must pay an honourable mention to the 1971 International Harvester Scout that he thrashed in Deliverance, the camouflaged 1969 Porsche 911 from Cannonball Run, and last but not least the 1983 Ford Thunderbird from the Nascar flick Stroker Ace. We'll see you down the road, Burt!
1977 Trans Am
Can you imagine the Bandit without his black Trans Am? Nor can we. When he drove it out of the back of the semi trailer early on in Smokey and the Bandit, you knew you were in for a wild ride! This car defined the muscle car in the late Seventies. Though other manufacturers had reduced their muscle car lineup or quit building them altogether due to stringent emissions laws strangling big block power, Pontiac kept the Trans Am alive with several special editions. It looked faster than it could actually go but 200 horses produced by its 6.6-litre V8 wasn't so bad for the times.
After the movie, sales shot up by 600 per cent - clearly everyone wanted to be the Bandit! That broken bridge jump scene is still one of the best ever in movie history. The Special Edition cars are hard to miss, especially with their striking Starlight Black paint with gold decals and striping.
Standard equipment included a front air dam, dual-chrome splitter exhaust, rear decklid spoiler, gold instrument bezel for the dash with a gold-accented steering wheel and red Firebird emblems. Today, it truly is a timeless masterpiece.
1968 Camaro SS
In the comedy Cop And A Half, he drives a blue 350bhp Chevrolet riding on a set of sweet Rally wheels, and big block 396 badges on the fenders. It even had four-point seat belts in the interior — which came in handy when Burt drove the beautiful Camaro through a fence and and spun it around on some dirt while chasing the bad guys.
With the new third-gen Corvette taking the spotlight at Chevy dealers, '68 only saw minor changes to the second-year Camaro. These included a mild grille redesign, divided rear tail-lights, and side-marker lights added to the front fenders and rear quarters. Front running lights on non-RS models were changed from circular to oval. First-year Camaros had been equipped with single-leaf rear springs, which contributed to unwanted wheel hop under hard acceleration. For '68, multi-leaf rear springs were fitted to high-performance V8 models.
Interior console and gauges were new too and a passenger-side grab-handle was available. Side vent windows seen on 1967 models were gone, replaced with Chevrolet's new fresh-air-inlet system called Astro Ventilation.
1978 GMC K10 Stepside
There’s another Trans Am in Hooper, a movie about the lives of stuntmen, and although that one is a gorgeous red hardtop, it’s his rare squarebody truck that deserves a mention. Reynolds spins it around in the middle of the road and then speeds along — backwards — until he’s pulled over by the cops. A truly fab bit of driving. Introduced in 1960, the Chevrolet C/K trucks were a hit for nearly 40 years, replaced by the Silverado in 1999. The ‘C’ designated two-wheel-drive trucks, the ‘K’ designated four-wheel-drive. ’10’ designated half-ton, a ’20’ three-quarter ton. A K10 was, therefore, a half-ton, four-wheel drive truck.