Believe it or not, the great Burt Reynolds turns 80 next year, and on screen, he’s driven some truly memorable cars. Here are five of our favorites. Some are pretty obvious and some are a bit obscure; see how many you can remember.
- 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am (“Smokey and the Bandit”): This one falls into the obvious category. Burt without his black T/A would be almost as strange as Burt without his black toupee and coordinating moustache. The 1976 and 1977 model years of the Trans Am were more than good looking enough to compensate for the fact that the Malaise Era 6.6-liter V-8 engine put out less power than your last Hyundai Elantra rental car. [Video: Click here to take a spin in a 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am]
- 1973 Citroën SM (“The Longest Yard”): If a Citroën has ever been used in a chase scene in an American movie, it’s escaped us. Reynolds cops his wife’s SM, flees from the police and it winds up in the drink. A really sad end for a fantastic car that combined French engineering and style with an Italian Maserati V-6.
- 1971 Ford Custom 500 (“White Lightning”): Drive-in movie fodder circa 1971. Burt plays a bootlegger named Gator McKlusky and drives a ridiculously fast full-size Ford sedan. There was allegedly a sequel called “Gator.”
- 1983 Ford Thunderbird (“Stroker Ace”): Sadly, this film might have been one of the worst career decisions made by Reynolds (or and other actor in the latter half of the 20th century). He turned down the role that won Jack Nicholson an Oscar in “Terms of Endearment” to make this NASCAR turkey. At least it featured several real-life NASCAR giants and a very cool ’83 T-Bird race car driven by Burt, playing the title character Stroker Ace.
- 1978 Dodge Sportsman B-200 (“Cannonball Run”): Unbelievably, this movie was loosely based on real events. Legendary automotive journalist Brock Yates actually did drive a fake ambulance cross-country to nearly snatch a win in the highly illegal Cannonball Baker Memorial, Sea-to-Shining-Sea trophy race. The cover story was allegedly something along the lines of having to cross the U.S. in an ambulance because the “patient” had a lung condition that prevented him from flying. Amazingly the cops bought it. One has to question what would be worse, having one’s lungs explode or having to spend 40-plus hours in a van with Dom DeLuise.