Pardon the saucy title; the Greenwood Car Show is always a roaring success. This year’s show was no exception, save for a chance encounter with the owner of a cherry 1977 T-Top Pontiac Trans Am.
He’s no Burt Reynolds and doesn’t profess to be, but I’ll vouch for his level of cool, in part from our shared admiration of the 1977 cinema classic, “Smokey and the Bandit”.
B: How synonymous would you say this car is with that movie?
M: Well for me, certainly 100%. I was born in ’74, the movie came out in ’77 and by about 1980 I loved this car and always wanted one ever since.
B: Do you think you could still pick up Sally Field in it?
M: I hope so. I’ve got my own Sally Field at home.
B: What’s peoples’ reaction been to the car?
M: Well everything that I’ve heard has been positive but I suppose if somebody didn’t like it they’d probably just keep walking.
(Guy wearing dark sunglasses, smoking cigarette interrupts interview)
G: You’re car?
G: Dude, east bound and down, loaded up and truckin’.
M: Right on.
G: Seriously, good for you. That’s a nice car man.
M: Thank you.
(Guy leans down, shakes Matt’s hand and gives him a hug)
G: Thanks for bringing it, appreciate it.
G: Sweet man. Sweet.
(Guy walks off)
In the time I spent interviewing Matt you could have taken your time eating a peanut-butter sandwich and no less than six small groups of people exited the passing foot traffic to stop and smile excitedly at his Trans Am.
Most could be overheard mentioning something rich about Burt Reynolds and/or Smokey and the Bandit. Little did they know Matt’s replica of the Buford T. Justice diverter was a far more potent machine than its inspiration.
B: I’m guessing the engine in this car makes more horsepower than the ’77 version of it.
M: The ’77 with all the emission regulations, the factory said it was an 180 horse motor, and then you could get a factory option with the smaller heads and a little bit higher combustion and you could get 200 horse. So it was pretty pathetic for a 400 cubic inch motor. This one I haven’t had dynoed yet, its only had a couple tanks of fuel through it since it’s been back together but my goal, my target was 600 horse and 500 foot pounds. So the motors pretty well built. It wasn’t really set up to handle all that but we’ll get her broke in first and then we’ll see if we come close.
B: It seems like a burnout machine just sitting there, like it should be doing one right now.
M: Yeah it’s got three-seven-three gears so it’s pretty quick off the line. I didn’t go four-elevens because I wanted to have at least some highway gear. But, it’s pretty fast.
We parted with a handshake and instructed each other to take it easy. With a successful interview handled like a boss I continued down the strip to soak in the true experience of the Greenwood Car Show at my leisure, camera and audio-recorder stuffed discretely into the undersized pockets of my Levi jeans.
Guised as a common spectator, the time had come to conduct some hardcore journalistic sleuthing. Catch up on the action in:
PART 2: http://tinyurl.com/6elltrj
To learn more about how to build your very own 1977 Pontiac Trans Am Smokey and the Bandit replica, visit www.yearone.com and read my blog “Pontiac Dead, Burt Reynolds not to blame” at http://tinyurl.com/4yy6fmw.