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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.

 |  5 min read

A few years ago, Gene Kennedy of Bandit Movie Cars of Florida undertook a tribute to honor Burt Reynolds with the restoration of a Legendary Trans Ams to match the last original Trans Am from the filming of Smokey and the Bandit. Here, we provide more details about “The Bandit” and the role McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal played in bringing this car back to its former glory.

How Smokey and the Bandit Stole Our Hearts

Before we share details of how our Perforated Metal became an option for the legendary Trans Am’s restoration, we want to reflect on pop culture movie sensation: Smokey and the Bandit. Released in the late 1970s,  Smokey and the Bandit is a road-action comedy that follows two bootleggers attempting to smuggle 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. Perhaps most notably of all, Burt Reynolds said the film was one of his favorites he ever worked on, and he and costar Sally Field began their six-year relationship after the film.

Meet the Trans Am

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

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

The Trans Ams used in the movie were modeled to look like the new 1977 model, although they were actually 1976s. A T/A 6.6 sticker was added to the hood scoop to remind viewers of the car’s 6.6-liter displacement. The car featured black and gold accents and “snowflake” 1977 LE wheels that gave it the iconic look 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 unfortunately, all or most were destroyed during the making of the movie. However, Universal Pictures did have several promotional models of the Bandit used for marketing the film that traveled with Burt to various 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 made its way 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 bought the car and reached out to car enthusiast Gene Kennedy, who verified that it was, in fact, an original Universal Promo Trans Am from the promotion of Smokey and the Bandit.

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 previously worked together on a few different projects, including some of Reynolds’ own Trans Ams. When the Trans Am was found, the buyer knew that Gene was the perfect man to aid in the restoration of the car.

Gene worked with the buyer to restore the beautiful old car to all its former glory. Below, we share more about how McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal played a key role in bringing the Trans Am back to peak condition.

Hexagonal Perforated Metal used for air filtration
Hexagonal Perforated Metal used for air filtration

About McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal – Hexagonal

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!

McNICHOLS® Metal on the Trans Am

The Perforated Hexagonal Metal is featured in a few places on the restored Trans Am. It’s used as a speaker cover on the inside of the door panels, as well as on the front dashboard. The metal is also featured in the car’s rear dashboard as part of a speaker assembly. Lastly, the team at Bandit Movie Cars saw the opportunity to carry the Hexagonal Perforated Metal onto the hood to protect from debris and act as a filtration component within the legendary shaker.

Hexagonal Perforated Metal utilized in rebuilding "The Bandit" from Smokey and The Bandit
Hexagonal Perforated Metal utilized in rebuilding "The Bandit" from Smokey and The Bandit

Although McNICHOLS® Hexagonal Perforated Metal typically comes in its natural hue of silver, the pieces used for the Trans Am needed a touch more flair. Gene and his team of craftsman at BMC powder coated the metal gold to match the rest of the Trans Am’s classic look. With the large phoenix painted on the hood and the gold accents around the grill, the gold hexagonal metal was the perfect touch of character for the car.

"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 go. The pattern and shape was the perfect complement to the iconic wheels", Kennedy shared.

Hexagonal Perforated Metal utilized in rebuilding "The Bandit" from Smokey and The Bandit
Hexagonal Perforated Metal utilized in rebuilding "The Bandit" from Smokey and The Bandit

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. The restoration of the Universal Promo Trans Am from this movie is an unforgettable way to save some of the legacies of this movie. We’re honored that McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal played a role in this restoration and that it is now part of the ongoing story of the Trans Am that stole America’s heart.

To see what McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal can bring to your next project, we invite you to browse our inventory online. We carry a wide variety of Hole Products to meet your metal needs, including Perforated and Expanded Metal, Wire Mesh as well as Bar Grating, Plank Grating and Fiberglass Grating. If you would like more information on our Hexagonal Perforated Metal, our Customer Service Specialists are ready and eager to serve you at 855.318.8791, sales@mcnichols.com, or via Live Chat!

How McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal Helped Restore “The Bandit”
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