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How McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal Helped Restore “The Bandit”

Smokey and the Bandit, one of the most iconic movie series from the 1970s and 80s, cemented the love for car chase action movies and launched a following of passionate Pontiac Trans Am fans. In this post, we share more about the race to restore the Bandit’s Trans Am using McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal.

Bandit Movie Cars

A few years back, Gene Kennedy from Bandit Movie Cars in Florida embarked on a tribute to honor Burt Reynolds. He meticulously restored a Legendary Trans Am to match the original Trans Am from the filming of Smokey and the Bandit. Discover more information about "The Bandit" and how McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal contributed to restoring this car to its original splendor.

How Smokey and the Bandit Stole Our Hearts

Let's take a moment to revisit the beloved pop culture movie sensation: Smokey and the Bandit. The late 1970s saw the release of Smokey and the Bandit, a road-action comedy. The movie centers around two bootleggers' adventure as they endeavor to transport 400 cases of Coors beer from Texas to Georgia. The movie stars Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, Jackie Gleason, and Paul Williams.

Although Smokey and the Bandit didn’t get much attention at first, it soon gained a cult following. The film grossed more than $126 million, making it the second-highest-grossing film of the year behind only Star Wars.

A restored version of the "The Bandit" car from Smokey and The Bandit.

Meet the Trans Am

Perhaps the most notable star of Smokey and the Bandit, however, wasn’t Burt Reynolds or Sally Field. Instead, it was the Pontiac Trans Am that Reynolds’ character used to distract law enforcement while his partner drove the beer. In the two years following the film, sales of the Trans Am nearly doubled.

The movie modeled the Trans Ams to resemble the new 1977 model, although they were actually 1976s. They added a T/A 6.6 sticker to the hood scoop as a reminder of the car's 6.6-liter displacement for viewers. The car featured black and gold accents and “snowflake” 1977 LE wheels. These features gave it the iconic look that viewers fell in love with.

The Cars Used in Filming

There were originally several Pontiac Trans Ams used in filming for Smokey and the Bandit. Several of these were stunt cars, and sadly, the making of the movie destroyed all or most of them. However, Universal Pictures employed multiple promotional models of the Bandit for marketing the film. These models accompanied Burt to various public appearances.

History was made in 2016 when one of the Universal Promo Trans Ams was sold at a Barrett-Jackson Car Auction for nearly six hundred thousand dollars. Over the years, Mr. Reynolds did sell several personally owned Trans Ams at other auctions.

The last surviving promotional Trans Am fell into disrepair over the years and went through several owners’ hands. Eventually, it landed on an eBay auction, where it received no bids – that is until a Trans Am enthusiast discovered it. The avid collector who purchased the car contacted car enthusiast Gene Kennedy. Kennedy confirmed its authenticity as an original Universal Promo Trans Am used in the promotion of Smokey and the Bandit.

McNICHOLS® Hexagonal Perforated Metal was used for air filtration.

How the Restoration Began

When Gene Kennedy got the call about the Trans Am for sale, he already had a personal connection with Burt Reynolds. The two had met at a car show years before and worked together on a few different projects. Some of those projects include Reynolds’ own Trans Ams. When the buyer secured the Trans Am, they recognized Gene as the ideal person to assist with restoring the car.

Gene worked with the buyer to restore the beautiful old car to all its former glory. We elaborate more on the significant contribution McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal played in bringing the Trans Am back to peak condition. 

About McNICHOLS® Hexagonal Perforated Metal

So, how did McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal play a role in the legendary Trans Am’s restoration? And why was this material chosen for such an important job?

Our Hexagonal Perforated Metal offered the perfect balance of beauty and function for the restoration. The substantial open area (nearly 80%) in the metal gives it an aesthetically appealing design without compromising function. Another characteristic of this Perforated Metal product line is its high strength-to-weight ratio.

McNICHOLS® Hexagonal Perforated Metal is available in Aluminum or Carbon Steel and comes in a variety of gauges and hole sizes. Its honeycomb design offers stability and an unforgettable profile for your project. It even has compatible Accessories to ensure that this metal meets your every project need!

Hexagonal Perforated Metal added onto the hood to protect from debris and act as a filtration component.
Hexagonal Perforated Metal utilized in rebuilding "The Bandit" from Smokey and The Bandit.

McNICHOLS® Metal on the Trans Am

The restored Trans Am features Perforated Hexagonal Metal in a few places. It covers the speaker on the inside of the door panels, as well as on the front dashboard. The metal also appears in the car's rear dashboard as a component of the speaker assembly.

Finally, the Bandit Movie Cars team recognized an opportunity to extend the use of Hexagonal Perforated Metal to the hood. This serves a dual purpose: shielding it from debris and functioning as a filtration component within the iconic shaker.

While McNICHOLS® Hexagonal Perforated Metal is usually a natural silver, the pieces for the Trans Am demanded extra style. Gene and his team at BMC powder-coated the metal gold to match the classic look of the Trans Am.

The car received a perfect touch of character with its large phoenix painted on the hood. The gold accents around the grill, all complemented by the gold hexagonal metal, added to its unique aesthetic.

Two images showing the powder-coated Hexagonal Perforated Metal in gold and the wheels with gold accents.
Hexagonal Perforated Metal utilized in rebuilding "The Bandit" from Smokey and The Bandit.

"McNICHOLS had the Hexagonal Perforated Metal in stock that we were looking for. Because it didn't require any custom machining, it was ready to install. The pattern and shape was the perfect complement to the iconic wheels", Kennedy shared.

Learn More About McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal

Smokey and the Bandit is one of the great films of the 1970s, and even to this day, it remains popular.

Restoring the Universal Promo Trans Am from the movie is an unforgettable preservation of its legacy. We are deeply honored that McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal played a significant role in this restoration project. Becoming an integral part of the enduring narrative of the Trans Am, a vehicle that has captured the hearts of Americans.

If you would like more information on our Hexagonal Perforated Metal, our Customer Service Specialists are ready and Inspired to Serve® you at 855.318.8791, [email protected], or via Live Chat on mcnichols.com.