The Firebird Trans Am: The true king of the silver screen
Recently, the Ford Mustang has been getting a lot of attention for its role in iconic movies, especially after the storied Eleanor from the 2001 hit "Gone In Sixty Seconds" sold for a hefty sum on the auction block earlier in the month. But there is one model that is the undisputed king of the silver screen, and it isn't Ford's pony car.
The Pontiac Trans Am has for generations been the coolest car on film, even if the characters driving this gorgeous piece of machinery have been less-than-savory villains, or the plot lines to these flicks have aged poorly. No matter what movie this classic American car turns up in, it immediately makes the film all the more better.
The first movie that most people associate the Trans Am with was the Burt Reynolds picture "Smokey and the Bandit." Pontiac's promotional division outfitted a 1976 model with a front and back clip from a 1977 model for this custom street machine, which ultimately made it to theaters in 1978 and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Editing in 1979. While the film is now considered a campy, kitschy classic, it has some incredible chase scenes, and the paint job on the specially made Trans Am was the inspiration for a whole generation of Firebird hoods.
Pontiac supplied another Trans Am to the production team who worked on the sequel "Smokey and the Bandit II" in 1980, this time giving Reynolds a 1980 model to steer into the sunset. While the car was cool, no one was asking for a "Smokey and the Bandit III," so – thankfully – Pontiac ceased collaborating with the studio on the project.
While the "Smokey" films were comedies with more unintentional laughs than scripted jokes, the Trans Am has made its way into several unquestionable comedic classics. Will Ferrell's character "Frank the Tank" can be seen working on his 1987 "Red Dragon" Trans Am at one scene early on in the movie. Another infamous movie idiot, Steve Martin's delusional character in the 1979 classic "The Jerk" spends his riches on a modified 1979 brown and yellow model that hopefully performed better than it looked. And while many would argue that the 2001 flick "The Adventures of Joe Dirt" is hardly a comedy classic, the 1979 Tenth Anniversary Trans Am driven by Kid Rock's villain character certainly is.
This Pontiac has even had some notable scenes in movies where the Mustang has had top-billing. In Steve McQueen's 1978 blockbuster "Bullitt," a gorgeous white 1968 Firebird can be found chasing the classic Mustang in a number of white-knuckle races. Even in the aforementioned "Gone In Sixty Seconds," the front clip of a 1968 Firebird is attached to a grill that can be witnessed in the memorable BBQ scene at the end of the movie.
Of all the classic Trans Am moments in film, what was your favorite – if you can choose just one? Do you think there is another car that has had a more prolific life on film? Leave your thoughts below: