The iconic "Smokey and the Bandit" Trans Am returns after 40 years

In less than two decades, the American automotive industry lost no fewer than three historic brands as of 2016. In 2001, Chrysler killed Plymouth after many years of slow sales and a lineup that rarely included more than three nameplates. Three years later, it was GM’s turn to shutdown Oldsmobile, a brand that celebrated more than 100 years on the market. In 2010, financial problems and restructuring efforts forced GM to discontinue Pontiac as well. Of the three brands that are no longer with us, Pontiac is arguably the one enthusiasts miss the most, especially when it comes to its affordable RWD coupes and the iconic GTO, Firebird, and Trans Am models. Fortunately, both the GTO and the Trans Am have returned to the market in 2011 thanks to Trans Am Depot.

For those who are not familiar with the brand, Trans Am Depot was formed in 2011, one year after Pontiac was axed, by brothers Tod and Scott Warmack, Jim Dowling, and graphic designer Kevin Morgan. The goal was to bring to life the vision of a modern day Trans Am, which the team succeeded in doing after securing exclusive rights to the "Trans Am" name. In 2012, Trans Am Depot forged a partnership with Hurst Performance and built the first-ever Trans Am with the iconic Hurst badge.

As of 2015, the shop converts restomods, restores classic cars, and more importantly, builds modern iterations of the Pontiac Trans Am and GTO from fifth-generation Camaros. The current lineup includes the 7T7 Trans Am, the 6T9 Judge, and the Hurst Judge, which are based on the original 1977 Trans Am and 1969 GTO Judge. At the 2016 New York Auto Show, Trans Am Depot unveiled its latest masterpiece, the Trans Am SE Bandit Edition. As the name suggests, it’s a modern interpretation of the 1977 Trans Am Special Edition that was featured in the Smokey and the Bandit film.

Limited to only 77 units, the Bandit Edition comes with all of the signature features of the original car and an endorsement from Burt Reynolds himself, the star of Smokey and the Bandit. Keep reading to find out what makes it special.

Continue reading to learn more about the Trans Am SE Bandit Edition.

  • 2016 Trans Am SE Bandit Edition
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    840
  • Displacement:
    7.4 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    200 mph
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Trans Am SE Bandit Edition High Resolution Exterior
- image 671514

Being based on Trans Am Depot’s 7T7 model, the Bandit Edition benefits from all the features that turn the fifth-generation Camaro into a modern rendition of the 1977 Trans Am. Although the design makes use of more rounded shapes, most of original details are there. There’s the V-shaped nose with the Pontiac badge, the twin grille, and the two horizontal vents in the bumper. The latter is also shaped to mimic the original car’s and features a prominent splitter that extends toward the front wheel arches. The Bandit Edition also employs a quad-headlamp configuration, but unlike the original, which had square units, it employs round lamps.

What the 7T7 lacks compared to the 1977 Trans Am is the wraparound windscreen, featuring instead the same quarter window as the Camaro it is based on

Similarities are also obvious on the sides, starting with the front fender vent and "Trans Am" lettering and the honeycomb wheels with gold highlights. What the 7T7 lacks compared to the 1977 Trans Am is the wraparound windscreen, featuring instead the same quarter window as the Camaro it is based on. Around back, however, Trans Am Depot recreated more elements seen on the original car. There’s a big trunk lid spoiler, a wraparound bumper, and even the wide taillights with three horizontal clusters that include reverse lights on each side of the license plate recess. It also features a shaker hood and a T-top roof, both essential for a Trans Am.

On top of that, the Bandit Edition sports all the iconic details seen on the "Smokey and the Bandit" movie car, starting with the gold accents on the nose, rear fascia, and waistline, the "screaming chicken" decal on the engine hood to the black paint and specific logos. Trans Am Depot even went as far as to equip the Bandit Edition with period-correct raised white letter Goodyear Eagle F1 tires.

Needless to say, the Bandit Edition looks the part and it’s a worthy successor of the original "Smokey and the Bandit" Trans Am. No wonder the car has been endorsed by Burt Reynolds, the man who played Bo Darville "Bandit" in the 1977 film.

Interior

2016 Trans Am SE Bandit Edition High Resolution Interior
- image 671513
Everything from the dashboard and the instrument cluster to the seats and the center console are new and feature styling cues and gear that harken back to the 1977 Trans Am

The Camaro interior has been reworked almost completely for the Bandit Edition. Everything from the dashboard and the instrument cluster to the seats and the center console are new and feature styling cues and gear that harken back to the 1977 Trans Am. The instrument cluster received retro-looking gauges with "Bandit" graphics, while the center console is highlighted by a Hurst shifter and "Trans Am" lettering. The seats have been redesigned into a classic Trans Am shape and come with gold center sections, stitching, and detailing.

The headrests have gold "Bandit" graphics, a feature that has nothing to do with the original car but makes for one cool design element. The dashboard features a gold top, while the door panels have gold "screaming chicken" graphics" over their gloss-black center inserts. Trans Am Depot didn’t provide details as to what convenience features are offered, but expect the Bandit Edition to be identical to the 2015 Chevrolet Camaro in that department.

Drivetrain

2016 Trans Am SE Bandit Edition High Resolution Exterior
- image 671523
The Trans Am received the 840 Extreme Performance Package, which includes a 7.4-liter LSX V-8 engine and a 2.9-liter twin-screw supercharger

Under the hood, the Bandit Edition benefits from the advance of technology and uses one of Trans Am Depot’s state-of-the-art engines. The brand’s lineup for 2016 includes four different packages and the Bandit Edition gets the most powerful. Specifically, the Trans Am received the 840 Extreme Performance Package, which includes a 7.4-liter LSX V-8 engine and a 2.9-liter twin-screw supercharger. The custom drivetrain also includes a bespoke cold air intake, performance spark plugs, 80cc injectors, a 79mm pulley and belt, and performance 8mm plug wires and boots.

The ouput? Well, this thing has 840 horsepower at its disposal, which is sent to the rear wheels through either a manual or automatic transmission. In order for the Bandit Edition to handle all that oomph, Trans Am Depot added engine mounts, a rear end, and axle shaft from the Camaro Z/28. Performance specs have yet to be released, but it’s safe to assume that this limited-edition Trans Am needs less than three seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start on its way to a top speed in excess of 200 mph.

Needless to say, that’s a massive improvement compared to the 1977 Trans Am’s disappointing 185-horsepower, 6.6-liter V-8.

Prices

Pricing for the Trans AM SE Bandit Edition starts from $115,000, including the donor Chevrolet Camaro. Production will be limited to only 77 units and chances are this special-edition muscle car will be sold out in a matter of weeks.

Competition

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 HPE850

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 669656

There are quite a few muscle car options out there nowadays, but unless you can settle with the Challenger Hellcat’s 707-horsepower rating, you’ll have to go with an aftermarket tuner. A good alternative is Hennessey’s HPE850 package for the sixth-generation Camaro. Using an array of performance-enhancing parts, the Texas-based firm can inject 854 horsepower and 715 pound-feet of torque in the latest Camaro ZL1. The modified coupe needs only 2.6 seconds to hit 60 mph and just 10.3 ticks to run the quarter-mile. The only downside is that the ZL1 HPE850 is significantly more expensive than the Trans Am SE Bandit Edition. A similar package will bump the Challenger Hellcat to 852 horses if you’re not into GM cars.

Read more about the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 HPE850 by Hennessey here.

Shelby GT

2015 Shelby GT High Resolution Exterior
- image 611821

If you’re more of a Ford guy, Shelby’s latest GT model packs a supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8 that can deliver in excess of 800 horsepower thanks to a comprehensive upgrade using Ford Racing parts. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual or an automatic and the 800+ output should push the Mustang from 0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds. Pricing for the Shelby GT starts from $72,295 including the base Mustang GT, but that amount will only get you the 627-horsepower update. For 800+ ponies, you’ll have to spend in excess of $100,000. Unlike the Bandit Edition though, the Shelby GT isn’t limited to a certain number of units and production is expected to last until at least 2017.

Find out more about the Shelby GT here.

Conclusion

2016 Trans Am SE Bandit Edition High Resolution Exterior
- image 671521

Although it will never fill the hole left by the disappearance of the Pontiac brand, Trans Am Depot did a tremendous job resurrecting the Trans Am nameplate using the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro as a base. The Florida-based company essentially did what GM could’ve done to avoid killing Pontiac in the first place: keep the brand restricted to performance models rather than rebadged Chevrolets designed in Asia). Sure, Trans Am Depot’s modern renditions of the Trans Am and GTO don’t enjoy the support an actual Pontiac would and some enthusiasts are reluctant when it comes to buying an aftermarket product, but this little shop has evolved dramatically over the last few years and the new Bandit Edition is here to prove just that.

With support from Burt Reynolds and all the hype around the iconic "Smokey and the Bandit" film, not to mention its presence at the New York Auto Show, maybe Trans Am will get a lot more attention and find a way (and the funds) to do even more for Pontiac gearheads. As for the Bandit Edition, it’s arguably the best choice you have if you’re in the market for an exclusive, bespoke muscle car with just enough power to run the quarter-mile in the low 10s.

  • Leave it
    • Not an actual Pontiac
    • Limited production run
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