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UPDATE 10/1/18: Results are in for this auction. Unsurprisingly, the 1978 Trans Am Bandit replica was the top earner, selling for $192,500, while the red 1978 Trans Am went for $88,000. The Cannonball Run–themed Chevy pickup crossed the block at $49,500.
When is history not exactly history, but rather a facsimile thereof, authenticated by those involved in its making? Realists and cynics will assert that, largely written or rewritten by the victors, history is never quite history. But when it comes to Burt Reynolds, one could argue, who the hell cares? You're bound to have a good time, and you'll perhaps grow some chest hair in the process. Up for auction next weekend at Barrett-Jackson's Las Vegas event are a number of vehicles from the late actor's personal collection, machines built to replicate some of his most memorable vehicular co-stars.
Black and gold second-generation Trans Ams associated with the actor have brought large money over the past few years. In 2016, a car used during Smokey and the Bandit promotional duties went for a cool half-mil when the gavel came down at at B-J’s marquee Scottsdale auction. Not bad for an automobile that, when new, could be handily outrun by a contemporary long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz sedan. The Bandit replica up for sale in Vegas is a 1978 model, and while the auction's promotional materials make it out to be a painstaking replica of the movie car, eagle-eyed fans of the number-two box-office draw for '77 will note that the model year is off, and the transmission is a four-speed Turbo-Hydramatic 200-4R, rather than the three-speed Turbo 350 or BorgWarner-supplied four-speed manual available as original equipment. Still, 200-4Rs can be built to withstand a fair chunk of grunt; they were the gearbox of choice for the hairball Buick GNX of the 1980s, after all. In short, this looks to be a nice 1978 T/A with some useful upgrades, with Burt's name on the title to send prices into multiples of the car's actual value.
A second '78 Trans-Am, in red, was built to evoke the rocket-powered Hooper bridge-jump car. Unlike the Bandit replica, which carries a Pontiac 400 under the hood, the Hooper car features an Olds 403, which was used for California and high-altitude markets. Buyers also get a replica of Sonny Hooper's silver screaming-chicken jacket, which is an absolutely choice piece of period Burtwear.
Perhaps the most interesting vehicle from the Reynolds collection to cross the block isn't a Pontiac and isn't a replica of a vehicle driven by Reynolds on the silver screen. It’s a Chevy Squarebody dually, and we at C/D will admit a bit of bias here. Its inspiration may be the truck driven by the Mad Dog character in Cannonball Run, but Mad Dog's truck was based on a Chevy dually driven by Super Modified racer Dennis Menesini in the final running of the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-ShiningSea Memorial Trophy Dash. Menesini's truck carried 165 gallons of fuel and had a kill switch wired into the taillights, which served him well during an altercation with some yokels in a Chevelle during his cross-country sprint. Burt's truck is a bit more modern. Built from an '87 model, the truck features a 496-inch rat motor with FiTech injection and a 4L80E automatic overdrive transmission.
So what of history? Reynolds has written his final entry; everything from here on out will be penned by people who are not Burt Reynolds. These cars bear his signature and his name on the titles, and they're patterned after machines from his heyday as the most bankable movie star in the world. What's that worth to his surviving fans? Well, we'll find out in a week's time.
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