What if the Bandit’s Trans Am was red instead of black?

What if the Bandit’s Trans Am was red instead of black?

The Pick of the Day provides the answer with what seems to be a clean, all-original Pontiac

Editor’s note: This piece is part of the ClassicCars.com Journal’s Muscle Month. We’ll be featuring stories, muscle cars and people during July about everything and anything that goes fast.

A year younger than the one driven by Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit, and in the less-familiar color of Mayan Red, the Pick of the Day is a 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am in apparently preserved condition. 

The paint scheme on this Trans Am looks more-subdued than the vibrant black-with-gold-trim version made famous by the Bandit as he fled Sheriff Buford T. Justice. To my eye, the color also serves to better highlight the car’s styling, which was changed just slightly for this model year. 

The Trans Am is powered by a 400cid V8

Yes, that big flaming eagle is squawking on the hood (less-positive folk refer to it as a screaming chicken), and the Firebird comes equipped with a T-top roof. The T-top was built by Hurst, according to the Lincoln, Nebraska, dealer advertising the Trans Am on ClassicCars.com, which means the car was produced in the early part of the model year, as the roof manufacturer was changed during the 1978 run.

Although the dealer doesn’t say as much, this seems to be an unrestored original car that shows just under 53,800 miles on the odometer. The dealer does say the Trans Am is numbers matching and with Pontiac Historical Services documentation.   

Trans Am

The crushed-velvet, disco-era interior looks to be in decent shape 

The car is powered, then, by its original 400cid V8, which was rated at 220 horsepower, hooked up with an automatic transmission. The car is fully equipped with air conditioning, power windows, power steering and brakes, rear-window defroster, “deluxe red interior” and 15-inch Pontiac Snowflake wheels shod with BF Goodrich tires.

“It drives straight and smooth,” the dealer says in the ad. “The Pontiac engine runs like a Swiss watch. A nice rumble comes from the dual exhaust that lets everyone know you are driving something special.”

This era Trans Am was on the upswing in the classic car market for a few years there, so this one seems reasonably priced at $24,900. 

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day


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  • Robert McMullen
    July 13, 2018, 3:16 AM

    Any body remember a movie that came out after Smokey and the Bandit called Hooper, Trans am in that was red. Good flick.

  • Albert Johnson
    July 13, 2018, 5:45 AM

    Good lookin 👍

    • Richard White@Albert Johnson
      July 13, 2018, 7:24 AM

      Really good looking car and iconic in its time, I would be proud to cruise Main Street in this cage.

  • Tina Blankenship
    July 13, 2018, 6:41 AM

    Is this car still available? Does it have the Pontiac 400 in it? Thanks.

    • Mike Bour@Tina Blankenship
      July 14, 2018, 1:01 PM

      Actually, this is NOT a 400 engine, but the Olds 403. The Pontiac 400 came with the 4 speed manual transmission only and was far more desirable.

  • Mike Paull
    July 13, 2018, 8:17 AM

    I don’t understand the reference to Smokey and the Bandit here. This is just a Trans Am, not even the same year or color. So it’s not even a clone. There were tens of thousands produced, This has nothing to do with the Smokey and the Bandit movie(s) I just don’t get this latest trend of trying to associate almost every vehicle made with some famous movie, actor, dealership, town, ANYTHING. It’s starting to sound like a Mecum auction. "This car has actually been driven down the same street that Brad Pitt saw from his airline seat while traveling to a movie set in Italy" It’s starting to get that bad !

    • Wayne Clarke@Mike Paull
      July 13, 2018, 5:43 PM

      Yeah… makes you think the cars not that sellable if they got to try and associate it with completly unrelated year that does actually have some collectability due a movie or famous person etc..

    • Bill Phelan@Mike Paull
      July 14, 2018, 9:15 AM

      That was GREAT. Thanks for the laugh ! (BTW, I completely agree).

    • Bob Telfee@Mike Paull
      September 21, 2018, 11:46 PM

      This car is the same as the trans am from the movie Hooper starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field! Agree that really nothing to do with Smokey and the bandit. Nevertheless It is still a legitimate movie inspired car

  • James McIntire
    July 13, 2018, 8:43 AM

    I’m glad to see this one was preserved in its original shade of red. There are enough Bandit look-alike’s out there.


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