Every now and then when I'm hammering to make time on a road trip, this is what goes through my head: "East bound and down, loaded up and truckin'..." Second only to Star Wars in 1977, Hal Needham's iconic Smokey and the Bandit also seared itself into popular culture like the Space Opera. Thirty years on, a black 2nd-generation Trans Am still makes us think of bootlegging Coors.
To commemorate the Burt Reynolds vehicle, Year One is teaming up with the veteran actor and building a limited number of Bandit inspired Trans Ams. These cars won't be highly suspect like those that pop up on eBay from time to time, or aftermarket kits like those made by Trans Am Specialties and Choo Choo Customs back in the day. No, they'll be the real deal, and Year One isn't taking the easy way out, either. Since the Bandit car was a T/A, all of the Year One cars will be true T/As, and titled as such. You could get away with a Firebird as a basis, but that's not how Year One rolls.
There will be three variations on the Bandit theme, BAN1, thru BAN3. All cars have full body restorations first. Floors are replaced, as are other needed panels, so that the hi-po Ponchos have the best basis to build from. Flush-mounted glass, smooth fender flares, custom projector headlights and LED taillights update the basic car. Chassis mods firm up the structure with subframe connectors, tubular control arms and high performance bushings and springs. The interiors get pimped out in the same custom fashion, with "Bandit" inserts on the door panels, modern seats, a race-inspired gauge cluster and the requisite CB radio. It wouldn't be a Bandit car if you couldn't pick up that mic and say "Snoman, gotcher ears on?" BAN2 and BAN3 packages get increasing amounts of performance from monster aluminum 455s or LS-derived engines, as well as further chassis tweaks and more toys inside the cockpit, like a nav system and race harnesses.
Some history, and Year One's press release after the jump
[Source: Year One]
There was never a "Bandit" Trans Am from Pontiac until after the successful movie. The cars used in the movie were distinctive Trans Am Special Editions, and have become forever associated with the hijinks that ensued while a couple Scum Bums smuggled beer back to Big and Little Enos. The distinctive theme, with black paint and contrasting gold pinstripes and accents, traces back to the 1974 show car season. That year, a particularly evil-looking '74 T/A was done up in black metal flake with extensive gold detailing. The car featured a Super-Duty 455 V8 topped with a shaker scoop, and it was stunning. So stunning, in fact, that it went into production in 1976 as the 50th Anniversary Trans Am.
They wouldn't be a sought after GM ponycar without an alphanumeric, and the black and gold cars were given the designators Y-82 (T-Tops) and Y-81 (solid roof). The Y-81s are more rare, especially with a manual transmission. For 1977, the package was dubbed the Trans Am Special Edition, so as not to confuse them with the 50th Anniversary cars of the prior year. It doesn't seem to matter now, as they're all called "Bandits" or the slightly less common "Blackbird."
When Smokey and the Bandit hit theaters in 1977, Pontiac saw a sales bounce of these black and gold badass F-Bodies. The popularity of the Special Edition Trans Ams saw the package go through various permutations into the early 1980s. We'd love to get our hands on one of the '80 turbocharged 301 V8 T/As. Talk about an odd duck (with a screaming chicken on the hood, no less).
Even though the Bandit films make these cars look like super performers, even the mighty 455 was pretty anemic back then. Not that they can't be woken up, but why go through all that trouble, when Year One is doing just that already? Their cars are underway, and from the looks of it, they know what they're doing when it comes to restomodification. We, on the other hand, would be making big, goopy welds in the floorpans and hoping the rattle-can paint job looks good from 10 yards out. No pricing on the Year One cars has been announced, but we figure if we convince someone to give us an advance in return for some courier work, we'll get one.
Press release below
Patrick Smith's Bandit Trans Am History was immensely helpful research for this article
Without a doubt, one of the most iconic cars of the '70s was a black and gold Pontiac Trans Am. Thanks to the release of Smokey and the Bandit in 1977, a whole generation of kids (and not just a few adults) had dreams of screaming down the highways wearing a cowboy hat and staying one step ahead of the law with his CB radio. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Smokey and the Bandit, YearOne is teaming up with Burt Reynolds to build a limited run of the '77 and '79 Bandit Trans Am. Subtle cosmetic upgrades will bring fit and finish to modern standards, while three different packages offer performance The Bandit could only dream of.
BAN1 will be a restored hard top or T-top body, updated with flush mounted front and rear glass, flush-fitting fender flairs, projector headlights and LED taillights. Interior upgrades include performance bucket seats and door panels with custom Bandit inserts, a custom instrument cluster with race-inspired gauges, electronic rear view mirror, factory console and, of course, an optional CB radio with antenna.
The suspension will employ bolt-on sub frame connectors, tubular upper control arms, upgraded bushings to firm up the body, and high performance coil and leaf springs. Powering the car will be a 450hp Pontiac 455, backed by a 5-speed manual or automatic overdrive trans, heavy duty 10-bolt rear with 3.42 gears, and a heavy duty aluminum radiator. Custom 18x9 "Snowflake" billet wheels wear 275/35/18 BFG tires, stopped by 4-wheel disc brakes with 12-inch rotors up front.
The BAN2 package builds on the basic platform. Interior appointments include race-inspired pedals, an upgraded console with integrated navigation system, upgraded stereo and a 4-point roll bar.
Handling is improved with a tubular front subframe, tubular upper and lower control arms, integrated subframe connectors, front coil-over shocks, and larger 13-inch front rotors. The rear end is a stout 12-bolt, with 3.42 or 3.73 gearing, and mini tubs are added to clear the 18x11 rear wheels fitted with 335/35/18 BFG tires. Powering the BAN2 will be your choice of an aluminum head 455 putting out 550hp, or a fuel injected 550hp GM LS-based engine, again backed by either a 5-speed or automatic overdrive.
Building off of the BAN2, the BAN3 takes everything several steps further. The interior is fitted with a 6-point roll bar, optional 5-point racing harnesses and a rear seat storage area, while the body receives competition driving lights and special badging.
Engine options are either a 496ci all aluminum Pontiac 455, or LS-based engine, both rated at 700hp, backed by a 5-speed manual trans only, coupled to the engine through a hydraulic clutch. Out back is a 12-bolt axle with 3.73 gears hung from a four link suspension with track bar. Coil over shocks are found at all four corners, with 6-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors up front. Rolling stock is likewise competition-inspired; 18x10 wheels with 285/35/18 Michelin Pilot Sports up front, while huge 19x12 rears fitted with 345/35/19 Michelin Pilot Sports.
For information contact YearOne at www.yearone.com, or (800) YEAR ONE.