Burt Reynolds passed away at the age of 82 due to cardiac arrest, leaving behind friends, tons of fans, and lots of mustache-loving ladies. Because it seemed like he was always behind the wheel he was referred to as "one of the great drivers in US popular culture" - which is kinda ironic as he wasn't originally a "car guy."
If Burt Reynolds' life had adhered to his plan, he would never have starred in popular car movies like White Lightning, Smokey and the Bandit I and II, Hooper, The Cannonball Run and the rest. He wouldn't have been the top box office draw from the mid-1970s into the early 1980s, a Golden Globe and Emmy winner or an Oscar nominee. Because young Burt, then known as "Buddy," had his eye on a pro football career.
He accepted a scholarship to Florida State University (FSU) in 1954 and played halfback for the Seminoles. According to Burt's recent memoir, But Enough About Me, an on-field knee injury in his sophomore year, followed by a life-threatening car accident, conspired to end his football career. An English professor convinced him to act in a play he was producing, acting became Burt's new calling, and he immersed himself in the craft.
Reynolds was an actor who, by his own admission, didn’t always seek to challenge himself, but rather was more interested in having fun. Through his collaborations with stuntman/director Hal Needham in the 1970s and '80s, some of Burt's more famous movies included high-speed car chases, jumps, and crashes - which we've all enjoyed watching.
Who would ever have believed that there is a car out there that's been owned by both Margaret AND Burt Reynolds? Well, there is one such vehicle; a 1975 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Long-Wheelbase Limousine, and it went on sale as part of Bonham's Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia sale at Rockingham Castle in Leicestershire.
The Rolls was supplied to the personal order of the hierarchy, Margaret, in October 1974 before it was delivered to her in September 1975. Burt Reynolds later bought the car and kept it at his ranch in Jupiter, Florida. He never drove the car on public roads and sold it in 1988.
Towards the end of the '80s Burt Reynolds got married to Loni Anderson, and apparently, a regular limo or classic car wouldn't cut it. Enter the stagecoach - which could seat up to ten people.
The custom made stagecoach was built on an international scout frame, and only 3 of these were created. It has a 345 v8 engine and believe it or not, 4wd. After the wedding, the stagecoach was used in parades, and if the owner wanted to, he could drive it long distance as it's street-legal. This thing did come up for sale a few years back, with bidding starting at $55,000 - which we think is a bargain for a Burt Reynolds vehicle.
When reprising his role in Smokey and the Bandit II, the car was actually recast with a 1980 model. Reynolds had a limited-edition Indy Pace Car variant of the 1980 Trans Am, one of only 5700 built, it came with the rooftop caution lights and the 301-cu-in turbocharged V-8 that was available only on 1980 and ’81 Trans Am models. With its draw-through 800cfm Quadrajet and single Garrett turbocharger, the first-ever factory Pontiac with forced induction was rated at 210 horsepower and 345 lb-ft of torque.
With only 1,600 miles on the odometer, the car went on Barrett-Jackson's auction stage in Palm Beach with Reynolds present on stage. It sold for $110,000 - more than double the Hagerty condition #1 (Concours) rating for a 1980 Firebird Trans Am Indy Pace Car.
Although Burt became fabulously famous for his roles as the mustached leading man behind the wheel of the Pontiac Trans-Am of Smokey and the Bandit, one of his off-screen romances had nothing to do with the starlets he met along the way to fame and fortune. Burt acquired several notable vehicles, including this first generation 1957 Ford Thunderbird, Burt’s Bird as it is known in Concourse circles, at the height of his career.
According to a copy of the DMV registration from 1979, Burt Reynolds Productions purchased the 312 cubic-inch luxury two-seater from El Monte Motor Company near Hollywood. The T-bird is one of the finest examples of personal luxury cars from the '50s - very befitting for a movie star.
Looking back on his stunts at age 80, Reynolds wishes he let his longtime stuntman Hal Needham, who also directed Reynolds in "Smokey and the Bandit" and "The Cannon Ball Run," step in a few more times when it came to the physical stuff. As far as the driving stunts, it seems like Reynolds really enjoyed doing those, even if it almost went wrong a few times.
According to Burt himself, the football field spinout was almost a disaster in Smokey And The Bandit - the Trans Am wasn't supposed to go through the dugout, but the wet grass caused it. In the second movie, the cars were faster but heavier and didn't handle as well.
Then, of course, there was the smokestack incident in Hooper...
Back in the mid-'80s, Reynolds owned the Tampa Bay Bandits, a team playing in the now-defunct USFL. His 1984 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am is the only surviving example of a pair of Trans Am models that were used to promote the team.
Reynolds and his Smokey and the Bandit co-star, Jerry Reed, drove it during opening day in one of the league’s seasons. The car was part of the last cars of Reynolds' collection to be auctioned off, and while it didn't fetch as high a price as Reynolds’ two movie replica Firebird Trans Ams, it still sold for a solid $49,500.
The red Hooper car was a 1978 Pontiac Firebird Formula built to re-create the movie car from the 1978 film “Hooper,” in which Reynolds played the title character Sonny Hooper, an aging movie stunt driver. This Firebird was powered by a 403-cubic-inch V-8 and had a three-speed automatic transmission. When it went to auction it ended up selling for $88,000.
Hooper paid homage to the stuntmen, and Reynolds did quite a few of the stunts on that film himself. Reynolds once told the story of how he and stuntman Glenn Wilder were in the car in Alabama, driving through what Hal Needham set up and called ‘disaster city.’ They just barely made it out over the smokestack when it came crashing down!
The Hawaiian Tropic Chevelle wasn't the only Cannonball Run replica car in Burt's Collection. He had a 1987 Chevrolet R30 pickup that was a re-creation of the Indy Hauler used in the star-studded 1981 film “The Cannonball Run” – about the ultimate cross-country auto race. The pickup was amongst the last three cars from Reynolds' collection to be sold in auction and went for $49,500.
While this particular truck never did any stunts like jumping a moving freight train or driving into a hotel, it has been on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and innumerable events over the years. Here's a fun fact for you; that little 2-second scene in the movie where the truck jumps the train actually took five days to shoot.
Reynolds' last 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am sold for $192,500, and it was an exact duplicate of the car that appeared in Smokey and the Bandit, arguably the most famous of Reynolds’ movies. There’s a history behind this car, too.
According to records, Reynolds and his friend, Gene Kennedy, nailed every single detail of the original Trans Am movie car, right down to the CB antenna, scanner, the black and gold finish, the screaming chicken on the hood, even the white letters on the tires are correct; they’re the same tires used on the movie car. The car wasn’t just for show, either. It also had a 400-cubic-inch V-8 engine and a handful of parts from New Butler Performance, including a functional air conditioning unit.
Burt Reynolds starred in a couple of films where his character rode a bike, and he owned some Harleys on and off, but he wasn't known as a motorcycle guy like, say, Steve McQueen.
One of Reynolds’ best motoring memories, however, was about a motorcycle. "We grew up pretty poor, so I actually had a motorcycle I bought from my friend Mo Mustaine for $25. My dad was chief of police and didn’t want me to ride it. I could never figure out why it wouldn’t start during the week so I could take it to school. Turns out my dad would sneak out early in the morning and pull the plug wire and then put the cap back on top of the resistor! I loved that bike."
An auction at Julien’s Auction House in Las Vegas saw Reynolds’ unrestored 1977 Pontiac Trans Am sell for $489,000 - far more than the $80,000 it was expected to fetch. The car’s original condition includes a slightly faded paint job, a dirty, yet fully functional 6.6-liter V-8, and a well-lived-in interior. The fact that the Trans Am sold for nearly half a million dollars is a testament to the success of “Smokey and the Bandit” as a movie franchise.
Though the car was never used in filming, it was a “promotional” vehicle used during that time and later given to Reynolds after filming was completed. It also had a gold placard in the door jam saying, “1977 Pontiac Trans Am Owned by Burt Reynolds.”
Prior to his passing, Reynolds had his team polish up three of only a few remaining cars in his collection to bring to the 2018 Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas Auction, to be sold at No Reserve. All the vehicles were Reynolds’ personal cars and have been autographed by him.
Reynolds was a regular at Barrett-Jackson events since he first attended one in Scottsdale in 2016, and would often receive standing ovations from car and movie fans alike. In addition to auctioning off the vehicles, the event paid tribute to their owner and his career. During the bidding process, Reynolds’ friends and family members, as well as a number of celebrities, were on the auction stage to celebrate his life and legacy.
This famous Chevelle movie car is a re-creation of the promotional car used in the Burt Reynolds ultra-famous "Cannonball Run" movie. In that movie, a pair of good old boys, who were played by Terry Bradshaw and Mel Tillis, drove a replica of Donnie Allison's Hawaiian Tropic NASCAR Winston Cup Chevrolet stock car.
That is why most people call this the "Hawaiian Tropic" car. When sold in an auction, the Chevrolet Chevelle bid up to a hammer price of $35,000, and with the buyer's premium/commission, the buyer's total was $38,500. We suspect that if this was one of the actual cars from the movie, Burt would have gotten a lot more money for it - but those cars were all destroyed.
The Pontiac G8 was built in Australia and introduced in 2008 but shut down production in 2009 when the U.S. financial markets were collapsing, and GM shuttered the entire Pontiac brand forever. It was tough because the G8 was actually a nice sporty looking mid-sized car slated to take the place of the Pontiac Bonneville.
What makes this G8 so special is the fact that it is VIN #001, the first production model to roll off the factory line, and Burt Reynolds owned it. This Pontiac was bid up to $35,000, and with the buyer's premium, the buyer's total was $38,500. One would think this car would have and should have sold for more, but when it was resold in 2019 it only fetched $25,300.
Reynolds owned a 1978 Firebird Formula that packed some serious resto-mod firepower. Under the hood, there was a fuel-injected 8.2-liter V8 from Butler Performance. Trick aluminum heads, March pulleys, ceramic headers, a full custom 3-inch exhaust, plus all the cooling necessary for a claimed 600 horsepower.
The gearbox was a five-speed Tremec manual, with a Detroit Speed mini-tub rear and Hurst line-lock to ensure maximum tire smoke. It also had a Coilover suspension and, of course, RAMC billet 18-inch snowflake-style wheels wrapped in Nitto Drag Radials. The interior’s all custom too - with Pioneer and JL audio equipment. Burt Reynolds signature is, of course, custom-embroidered on the headrest - we wouldn't want it any other way.
The Smokey and the Bandit actor owned several iconic film memorabilia in the form of replicas of the cars featured in some of his most famous films, such as the Trans Am from Smokie, as well as the Trans Am in Hooper, the Chevelle, and truck from Cannonball...
Gene Kennedy of Bandit Movie Cars Florida, a friend and business partner of the actor, has explained that the “original cars used in the movies were disposed of, due to liability reasons. Universal Studios wouldn’t allow the sale of cars that may have had some frame damage from the stunts performed.” Which is why Reynolds had these replicas specially made for his collection.
We have no idea how many Trans Ams he's owned over the years, we're not even sure he knew how many he owned. After Smokey and the Bandit, Pontiac told him they'd give him a Trans Am every year - and they did for a few years, but then they just stopped. Burt called to see what was up, apparently, there was a new leader of the company and he didn't like his movies!
Even after his Pontiac endorsement deal ended, there seemed to constantly be Trans-Ams owned by Reynolds sold at auctions, knowing his economic situation and the fact that a car with his autograph would be worth some serious cash, it's entirely possible it was a "side-business" for him to generate some extra money.
Reynolds headlined several automotive-themed movies - “Stroker Ace,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” and both “Cannonball Run” movies - where cars shared the stage with him and his co-stars. But he was also part of a star-studded NASCAR team ownership group that fielded entries through the 1980s.
Reynolds partnered with stuntman-turned-producer/director Hal Needham and fellow actor Paul Newman, an accomplished racer in his own right, to form Skoal Bandit Racing ahead of the 1981 season. The team’s name borrowed from the smokeless tobacco sponsorship and the “Smokey and the Bandit” movie title. Stan Barrett, also a longtime stuntman and land-speed record holder, was the team’s first driver.
Even though it has been more than 40 years since the first “Smokey and the Bandit” emerged, the black and gold Pontiac Firebird Trans Am featured in the movie still sparks a lot of interest. Trans Am Depot made sure to capitalize on the car’s popularity with a Chevy Camaro-based special edition endorsed by none other than Burt Reynolds.
Only 77 units were made as a connection to the year when the movie came out. All of the cars featured t-top roofs and other visual tweaks to mimic the ’77 Trans Am. As a final touch, Burt Reynolds' signature can be found on the dashboard to complete the look. The car also packs plenty of punch thanks to a supercharged 7.4-liter V8 engine producing 840 horsepower.
Over the years, Burt played many characters who drive and appreciate fast cars. But in real life, the admiration for fast cars had to develop over the years. Growing up the son of a police chief, the idea of a fast car was not something to even remotely consider, plus they couldn't afford one; the Reynolds' family car was a secondhand Buick.
Perhaps that's why Burt spent some of his Navajo Joe paychecks to get his first brand-new car; a 1970 Mercedes 280 SL that he had imported from Europe. The 280's engine produced 170 horsepower which meant the previously underpowered SL was now a real sports car, then by 1971, the SL became a much heavier Grand Tourer.
Sources: Business Insider, Barrett-Jackson, Maxim, Motor1 & The Drive