Episode 100. Pontiac Trans Am. GOX 144V. (Part 10).

Crikey, episode 100... Already!! I think this episode will head off at a tangent, although it is very loosely related to my Trans Am.

In the last ten days or so since posting the advertisement for it for sale at Beaulieu autojumble my phone has litterally been ringing off the hook!! All those people who took the tearaways off my ad with my phone number on it have been ringing me night and day!! Actually, if I'm honest, my phone hasn't rung once! It would appear that much like every other time I've tried selling through just sticking an ad on the notice board at the autojumble I've had no response, and to be fair I'm probably going to have to go down the fleabay route... Dammit! Although, having said all of that, I have had several texts from a chap in the south of France who would appear to be quite interested, and says he would like to come and see it, but of course, he's in the south of France. I guess I'll give him a few more weeks, see if he materialises, but after that, well, maybe the bay of E, or maybe I'll just wait for spring to sell it. As Autumn gets ever closer I feel that for cars like this, the market will become less and less as the nights draw in. Maybe I should just wait until the big orange orb comes out again in Spring! I dunno, anyway For about a week now I've been thinking that I should perhaps write something about this man...

Yep, It's the Bandit. Burt Reynolds born on February 11, 1936 and died last week on September 6, 2018, making him just 82 years young. Now, I'm not one to dwell on the deaths of celebrities, because to be blunt, you don't know them, you know their films or whatever, but you don't know them, the person. So for me, when celebrities die, it is sad, but I don't really think about it as I didn't know them personally. I may have loved their films, but it doesn't leave me feeling that I've got a hole in my life like it would when someone I know personally dies. However, I am a fan of Tom Petty, and last year I even got to see him in concert, which was just as well as a couple of months later, he was gone! This, I felt quite sad about, and I was quite upset about this even though I obviously didn't know him either. I loved Tom Pettys music, and in a rare change of events from when other celebrities have died, I actually do feel a small hole has opened up in my life since he died. I was quite sad when I heard the news of Tom Pettys death, and still am. The same can be said about the Passing of Burt Reynolds, last week while the internet was buzzing with the news of his death I felt quite sad about it. I realise that I didn't know him, and at 82 years old he was going to go sooner or later, but still, I was a bit upset. I messaged a friend of mine about it and we conversed in mostly Burt Reynolds film lines for the best part of an hour. We had a good chuckle, but much like with Tom Petty, a little hole has opened up in my life. I'm guessing that this is in part due to the impact he and his films had on me as a child. Oddly, my introduction to Burt Reynolds was not Smokey and the Bandit, It was a little film called W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings released in 1975. In that Film Burt Reynolds plays a laid back crook who robs petrol stations. He meets the Dixie Dancekings, who are a country music band, while fleeing from police. The Dance kings singer, Dixie, gives him an alibi. He tells them all that he is in the music business, and ends up promoting the group. Wayne (Jerry Reed, or Snowman if you prefer) is the band's leader and doesn't trust him, but the others all have faith in him despite the shenanigans that occur, including carrying on robbing petrol stations! Anyway, It's quite funny if you've got a couple of hours spare, although I'm not sure you can get it on DVD yet. The next film I saw was of course the 1972 film, Deliverence. I guess I saw this in the late seventies when I was about nine or ten. I'll be honest I didn't care for it much, and the sound of Banjos has never been the same to me since, it's right up there with a simple alternating pattern of two notes usually identified as 'E' and 'F' being performed by a tuba player which in 1975 became a classic piece of suspense music, synonymous with approaching danger. But anyway, I'm getting away from the plot here, Roy Scheider, was the star of that film, not Burt, and it's Burt we're talking about! The third Burt Reynolds film I saw was of course Smokey and the Bandit! I'll be honest, this one probably cemented Burt Reynolds, and his films in my mind for good, and it is without any doubt the reason for this...

Indeed, that film was responsible for my fondness of second generation Pontiac Firebirds in general. Obviously I had seen a Firebird before I'd seen the Bandit films, I was familier with Jim Rockfords gold Firebird on The Rockford Files, and I liked that one, but it wasn't anything like this one! This one was subtly different, it was black, and it had a big bird on the bonnet! I needed it!

However, the eight year old Clint didn't get to see it when it came out in the UK cinemas on 26 August 1977, my folks weren't too big on going to the cinema, and as an eight year old, I couldn't go alone. I had to wait two years or so until my Dad came home with a bootleg copy on Betamax! We settled down one summer evening to watch it. I had seen American cars before this, and my HotWheels collection was very extensive. But as I sat there on that hot and sultry summer evening watching Smokey And The Bandit for the first time two things happened to me. Firstly, the scene where Burt Reynolds drives that black Trans Am out of the back of that trailer the then ten year old me knew that I had to have one someday. Not, I would like one someday, but I HAD to have one someday! It just wasn't an option! It was just awesome, how it looked, the sound, everything! I told my Dad that I was going to buy one when I was older, he laughed and said that I would never be able to get one of them in this country, Of course, in the late seventies I guess it would have been hard, not impossible, but definately hard. Atleast, a lot harder than it is today! The other thing that changed in me was due to this scene...

To qoute the yoof of today, OMG!! Yep, Sally Fields late twenties, early thirties bum! I'd never seen a bum like it, and to a ten year old boy, this was fantastic! It really was the first time I had looked at a woman and thought, damn, I've got to get me one like that one, something had stirred inside me! So in essence I needed to get two things, a black Trans Am, and a Sally Field! Both completely out of the reach of a ten year old boy, but thats what day dreams are for! The years passed, and I must've watched Smokey and the Bandit a million times.

I knew it word perfect, and looked forward to seeing my favourite shots of the Trans Am, like the bit where it jumps the Mulberry bridge... Son he's not going anywhere. The Mulberry Bridge has been dismantled for the past 6 months... Too late now!! Again, I'd seen cars doing jumps before, and not too long after this I started getting into watching a certain orange Dodge Charger doing epic jumps on a weekly basis, but as cool as the Dukes of Hazzard was, it wasn't as good in my eyes as Smokey and the Bandit. A '69 Dodge Charger is a cool car, make no mistake. But to me, it's not as cool as a '77 Pontiac Trans Am! But time waits for no man, and as time went on I discovered more and more Burt Reynolds films, Smokey and the Bandit II, Hooper, Stroker Ace, Cannonball Run 1 & 2, Gator, White Lightning, The Man Who Loved Women, Ooops!! Erm, anyway, I loved them all! Through these films he got me into so many cool cars as a kid, and  he convinced me that with the right smile and a smart attitude, you can get away with basically anything!

As a child I wanted to be just like Burt, he kind of had it all in my eyes. Although its safe to say that I never wanted the moustache, that wasn't what was going to be part of my look, I was no Thomas Magnum! 

During the last week since Burt left us I have been on a bit of a Burt Reynolds film marathon, I have watched so many. Some that I've seen millions of times before, and some that I've only seen a couple of times before, and I've enjoyed every minute of them. What I have noticed about pretty much all of them is that they all have cool cars in them, and fairly often, especially in the late '70's to early '80's films, theres a Pontiac Trans Am lurking in there somewhere. I would think that without a doubt the popularity of Pontiac Trans Ams from the 1970's to today is due to its prominent role in films with Burt Reynolds in, and in particular the Smokey and the Bandit films. After watching the films I headed out to my own Trans Am. I just wanted to go for a bit of a spin, and pretend that I am the Bandit, or Hooper, or even Stroker Ace, although that was a Thunderbird I think!

Driving along the roads near me with no particular place to go I got to thinking that Burt Reynolds was the Man Who Made Trans-Ams Cool. He and cars had a career-long partnership, he genuinely loved being behind the wheel. I guess that this is the only likeness that I have to being like Burt, I like to drive, and driving the Trans Am I do feel like Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit, that is right up until the point that I pass something that I can see my reflection in. Then, much like my previous delusions I am brought back down to Earth with a bump as I can see that as cool as the Trans Am is, I'm still a fat bald middle aged man without a moustache, and not a seventies sex symbol! Not even close... Dammit!! But, while I can't see my reflection I can dream right? I've got the car, although Mrs Clint is adamant that I am not allowed a thirty something Sally Field!

Anyway, I just want to finish up by saying that Burt Reynolds once said "I always wanted to experience everything and go down swinging, and so far, so good. I know I'm old, but I feel young. And there's one thing they can never take away: Nobody had more fun than I did." In my opinion you can't argue with that...

Rest In Peace Burt, you will always be remembered for your cool rides, your macho swagger, your fun attitute, and yes, your laugh. But more importantly, he'll be remembered for inspiring a generation of gearheads to go at life a little faster! Let's haul ass!