Actor Burt Reynolds, who starred in the Smokey and the Bandit film that inspired a generation to modify their Pontiac Trans Ams, passed away on Thursday. He was 82.
The Hollywood Reporter said the actor suffered a heart attack and died at the Jupiter Medical Center in Florida.
Reynolds cut his acting chops on Broadway stages and transitioned into film and television in the 1950s. His first regular role was in Riverboat and he followed that with the role of Quint Asper on Gunsmoke. As his television fame grew, Reynolds began appearing in low-budget films such as Angel Baby and Navajo Joe.
His breakout role came in the classic horror film Deliverance. As far as the car world is concerned, Reynolds’ biggest hit was Smokey and the Bandit, in which he drove a new 1977 Pontiac Trans Am Firebird.
As the film became a hit, so did the car. Though the movie vehicles were actually 1976 models with 1977 front ends, the automotive world began to go crazy for the style. Even today, Trans Ams are being restored or resto-modded to resemble Reynold’s black-and-gold car from the movie.
Since then, Reynolds’ name has become closely linked to the Firebird Trans Am. The actor sold a few of his own Trans Ams, which typically earned more than double their value at auction.
In an interview a few years ado, Reynolds said he “always thought the Trans Am was a beautiful animal, the body style, the paint job, it looks like it’s going when it’s just sitting. You could get a ticket while it’s sitting
Of course, Reynolds also drove some other great cars -– a 1975 Porsche 935 replica in Cannonball Run, a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS in Cop and a Half, a 1971 Ford 500 429 in White Lightening, and even a 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am in Hooper.
But for most car people, he’ll always be synonymous with the ’77 Firebird Trans Am.