A 1978 Pontiac Trans Am once owned by Burt Reynolds as a memento of the car he drove in the film “Smokey and the Bandit” will be among nearly 150 muscle cars and luxury vehicles seized from the alleged perpetrators of an $800 million investment scheme that will hit the auction block this weekend in California.
It’s said to be the largest single-owner car collection ever auctioned by the U.S. Marshals, seized late last year from Jeff and Paulette Carpoff, the founders of the now-defunct mobile solar generators company DC Solar.
Two employees of the San Francisco Bay Area solar energy company, certified public accountant Ronald Roach, 53, and general contractor Joseph Bayliss, 44, both of the Bay Area. pleaded guilty Tuesday to participating in what federal prosecutors say was a massive scheme that defrauded investors of $1 billion. Both men agreed to cooperate in the ongoing investigation.
While the Carpoffs, the company's owners, have not been charged, they agreed to let the government auction their collection of 150 classic, performance and luxury vehicles, including the 1978 Pontiac Trans Am once owned by Burt Reynolds.
The replica of the car the late actor drove in "Smokey and the Bandit" and the other vehicles are to be auctioned Saturday, with online bidding already pushing the accumulated value past $5.5 million.
Bidding on that Trans Am alone had topped $65,000 by late Tuesday. The auction company said it had been driven less than 3,400 miles.
It's the largest single-owner car collection ever auctioned by the U.S. Marshals Service. Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Lasha Boyden of the Sacramento office called it "a stunning collection of vehicles" that also includes 1990s Humvees, 1960s-era Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Camaros from several decades, plus older cars including a 1939 Buick Roadmaster, a 1951 Chevy Thriftmaster 3100 pickup truck and a 1941 Plymouth Special Delux with wooden doors and trim.
“It is rare for the U.S. Marshals to hold an auction of such a stunning collection of vehicles,” Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Lasha Boyden in Sacramento said in a statement.
Reynolds’ former Trans Am is a hardtop memento of the version he drove in the 1977 action comedy. It bears Bandit Run logos in the rear window and upper windshield and appears to have modified suspension components and bucket seats. It comes with a Florida registration with Reynolds’ name on it, and an autograph on the glove box that reads, “Be Safe! Burt Reynolds.”
Re-creations and replicas of the “Smokey” Trans Am have been popular fixtures on the auction circuit in the wake of Reynolds’ death in 2018. The U.S. Marshals auction will be held on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Apple Towing in Woodland, California, with pre-bidding currently under way.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.