Window Shop: Picking Cars for a 'Smokey and the Bandit' Remake

a man wearing a hat and holding up his hand
Window Shop: Picking a 'Smokey and the Bandit' CarCar and Driver

Just like prime-era Pontiac, Window Shop is building excitement with back-to-back episodes. Holding fast to the theme that started with a pretend Pontiac revival on Car and Driver's back page, this week the show is looking for the perfect car (or truck) to replace Bandit One's 1976 Trans Am.

What's that, you say? The Bandit—from Smokey and the Bandit, the cinematic masterpiece Autoweek called "a spectacular fable of automotive fantasy"—drove a 1977 Pontiac? Au contraire. Director Hal Needham (who would direct Cannonball Run four years later) and star Burt Reynolds saw what was being advertised as the 1977 Trans Am in a Pontiac brochure. However, Pontiac hadn't built any such cars yet, so the automaker Frankensteined 1977 front ends on the 1976 model just for the movie.


Anyway, this Window Shop challenge required choosing a car no earlier than 2004 and costing no more than $60,000. That eliminated the 2002 Pontiac Firebird, the last OEM car to offer T-tops.

With Road & Track senior editor John Pearley Huffman out this week, Car and Driver executive editor K.C. Colwell delivered the episode introduction. Senior editor Elana Scherr kicked off the submissions with a pickup that might have come from Hulk Hogan doing a full suplex on Bumblebee the Autobot.

Our head of rankings content, Joey Capparella, has never seen the movie. That, and Capparella's well-known distinctive tastes, help explain why he gave the Bandit a powerful piece of heavy German metal to outrun the police with. At least this one might come with better bootlegged beer than used in the movie.

Executive editor K.C. Colwell returned sourcing to America and upped the power and door count. If anyone imagines a modern Bandit needing to get in a few rounds of golf during the Texarkana run and be back in Buckhead in time for the kid's graduation, there's no better option than this one.

Contributor Jonathon Ramsey had a particular kind of Bandit in mind, namely, one who's not afraid of visibility and wearing a big ol' hat at triple digits. Add the need for power, burnouts, and a touch of the eccentric, and his pool of candidates diminished to one. (He also repeatedly refers to the Bandit as Smokey in this episode, because Spanish apple juice.)

Window Shop host Tony Quiroga rumbled up on stage with a jet-black entry that combined two other submissions, a shift lever stolen from the set of the Joker's Wild game show, a spoiler, and his trademark sales techniques learned from 1970s Lincoln dealership videos.

Whose choice is going to complete that fictional Atlanta–Texarkana–Atlanta run in first place? Tune in to find out. But watch this awesome trailer for the original movie first.

(Note: No Pontiacs were hurt, nor even chosen, in the making of this video.)

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