By on June 9, 2015


Burt Reynolds and his 1977 Pontiac Trans Am in “Smokey and the Bandit”, complete with gold on black screaming chicken and honeycomb wheels, are solidly part of the zeitgeist of the late ’70s.

But what if they weren’t?

From Burt’s perfectly manicured mustache to the Trans Am’s perfectly sculpted grille resembling said mustache, the film about running Coors beer from Texarkana to Georgia is solidly a product of its time. Being born seven years after the release of “Smokey and the Bandit” and in a country with arguably very different ideas on what constitutes beer, I’ve never fully-grasped the cultural relevance of the flick.

Bringing the idea as a concept into modern day cinema, you get pretty close to the first instalment of “The Fast and the Furious” – uber-macho main character that smuggles/steals, a handsome cop who takes a liking to a female character with ties to said uber-macho main character, and a plot wrapped around a series of car chases (let’s call that filler). But, just like the ’70s film, the first F&F is also very much a product of its time. Released 14 (!!!) years ago, almost every vehicle sans Toretto’s Charger is a disposable heap ‘tuned’ with horsepower stickers and very, very fast lowering kits.


We still have the F&F franchise to satiate our need for over-the-top car chases interwoven with mind-numbing plot. What we don’t have is the purity of The Bandit giving Smokey a hard time.

Let’s bring “Smokey and the Bandit” into 2015.

First, we need to start with the star, not the car, because – let’s face it – Burt is a year shy of turning 80 and probably not the person you want leading an action-comedy. This requires us to identify some sort of modern day Burt Reynolds equivalent. We also must be careful jumping the casting shark – looking at you “The Dukes of Hazzard”.

My suggestion: Ryan Reynolds. While his ability to grow a mustache is limited, Ryan has the ability to compensate using witty charm and overall good looks. Also, his smile is as devilish as any grin thrown by the aforementioned Burt. To top it off, Ryan is a genuine gearhead, though mostly of the two-wheeled variety with a penchant for Deus bikes.

Obviously, the Bandit can’t ride a bike (well, he probably can, but won’t). For all the character’s tough guy flaws, I can’t see Bandit wearing a shirt emblazoned with “If You Can Read This, The Bitch Fell Off” across his back like a pseudo biker gang member with a dental degree. The Bandit would never let said lady fall off in the first place. So, our leading man must drive a car or at least something enclosed with four wheels that can be licensed for highway use.

Let’s use the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am’s then $8,000 value as a baseline. That brings us to a llittle under $35,000 in today’s money. Also, you probably don’t want another 1977 Pontiac Trans Am even if you can acquire one at $35,0000 threshold as any Screaming Chicken (not the euphemism) on sale today has sat around a used car lot acting as a beacon for simple-minded slack-jawed mouth-breathers to come in and spend their cash a la Jeremy Piven’s “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard.” You’ll probably want to go new – or nearly new – so let’s put a limit on this car being MY2010 or greater.

So, restrictions set – 2010 or newer, $35,000 “speedy car” budget – what would ‘The Modern Bandit’ drive? BONUS: Since you can now buy Coors – for better or worse – virtually anywhere, what would Snowman be smuggling to Georgia?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

80 Comments on “QOTD: What Would ‘The Modern Bandit’ Drive?...”

  • avatar

    It would be a Scat Pack Challenger in an eye-searing color. And he’d be smuggling handcrafted small-batch bourbon.

    • 0 avatar

      Winner winner. It has to be fast and outrageous. A Camaro or Mustang would fit the formula, too, with all the stripes/weird colors you can find.

      I don’t think there is an illegal alcoholic beverage per se. All I can think of is 4Loco. But that would make this Smokey and the bandit too ghetto for my taste.

      • 0 avatar

        unfortunately so many cars today are a lot heavier and so a lot less toss-able and agile, or would perhaps not look as cool moving around in the dirt! Not sure which car would fit.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep, Scat Pak Challenger.

      But it would be a load of ‘Boggle Dragon’ pot from Oregon to Colorado because Little Enis is not impressed with the local shit.

    • 0 avatar


  • avatar

    You could argue for the Mustang GT, but if you’re smuggling, I’m guessing you’d want more smuggling space. There’s really only one answer for this, at least if you keep to the spirit of the original. Paging BTSR…

    • 0 avatar

      In the movie, the contraband beer wasn’t in the Firebird, there was a tractor trailer driven by Jerry Reed that had the beer, so pick any size car you like.

      • 0 avatar

        Fair enough. But it’s also worth noting that the Charger shares the same body with half the rental cars and cop cars in the country; get one in plain white or black and you could walk by it in a parking lot without noticing it. Completely contrary to the ethos of the movie, but it really is the ultimate bootlegger’s car.

        And sproc is obviously correct about the product.

        • 0 avatar

          You’ve missed the point of the bandit. The product is in the truck, so the Bandit is intended to be the cop magnet to pull the heat away from it. You don’t want something that blends in, you want something that stands out as much as possible and then has the credentials to back it up by escaping.

  • avatar

    Either a 2015 Challenger or Mustang GT

  • avatar

    Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Challenger Hellcat !

  • avatar

    Probably a Challenger Hellcat. It would have enough headroom for Bandit’s cowboy hat.

    Two more questions:

    On what kind of chewing gum would Bandit be cockily chomping?

    Who would be the new Sally Field?

  • avatar

    Something in the tune of “Brodozer”: SVT Raptor, SRT Ram, possibly an Escalade if we’re feeling, ahem, classy.

  • avatar

    Having lived through that era in the part of the country where the film was set, I’d have to say that the movie has no particular cultural relevance. It was just silly fun. Sometimes that’s enough.

  • avatar

    Definitely a Mustang GT. Anything Hellcat is awesome, but at least double the budget.

    I’d think outside the box a bit on casting. I bet Mark Wahlberg could pull it off with some absurd southern [Boston] accent.

    The smuggled product is obvious: Colorado is now a pothead’s paradise.

  • avatar

    It would have to be a new Camaro. Pontiac is dead but the F-car still lives on.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    A Chevy SS for continuity. Plus more room for hooch.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Using a straight inflation calculator won’t work in determining what should be the new Banditmobile. Try that with almost any other car and you’ll find the price in today’s dollars tends to put you in a class below the vehicle in question. Chalk that up to the cost of safety equipment, more-sophisticated drivetrains and mo-better comfort-and-convenience gear. That said, I’d still tap some form of Challenger, Charger or Mustang for the job.

  • avatar

    Probably a Chevrolet Silverado. It is fast and can handle much better than the Trans Am. It also would more than likely be able to survive a jump off a bridge and over a stream than a Camaro, Challenger, or Mustang.

  • avatar

    $35K – two choices…

    Mustang GT or Camaro SS

  • avatar

    Kanye West in a Juke distracting Tommy Lee Jones as the sheriff while Linda Ronstadt drives the truck smuggling stem cells.

    Even if I don’t win, may I still make Kanye West drive cross country in a Juke? With Linda Ronstadt?

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    The modern Bandit would drive an American SUV, probably a Grand Cherokee SRT, or an SVT Raptor.

    Not sure who should play her though.

  • avatar

    No, Ryan Reynolds is too metro-sexual to play the Bandit. Dwayne Johnson or Vin Diesel are more like it.

    The Runaway Bride is tricky. You need a looker who can hold her own against all of the testosterone flowing. Jennifer Lawrence could pull it off but probably wouldn’t be interested. Amy Schumer could be a good choice, not as traditionally pretty but plenty able to smart talk the Bandit.

    Edit: And the third question: What is the contraband load? It has to be illegal but not too controversial.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      Contraband, answered above. Like Coors, aka Colorado Koolaid, this product is also only legal mostly in Colorado; it’s green, sticky and funky.

      Now, who is to be Jerry Reed, driving the semi truck filled with Colorado contraband?

      Easy-Peasy: Snoop Dogg.

      “Yo, I’m eight-bound and down and when Smokey try’n pinch me I drop it like it’s hot.”

      • 0 avatar

        “Now, who is to be Jerry Reed, driving the semi truck filled with Colorado contraband?”

        Willie Nelson – needs that last big score to pay his back taxes. And your soundtrack would already be done.

    • 0 avatar

      I think this is the role that will make Nick Offerman a movie star!

  • avatar

    If it must be GM, then a ZL1 Camaro. Otherwise a Hellcat Challenger.

  • avatar

    Certainly the Dukes would have a Charger/Challenger but not the Bandit. Bandit would sport a 426hp LS3 powered Camaro, duh! You can buy a firebird decal for the hood.

    Contraband = hmmm likely Opiates.

  • avatar


    The Bandit: Chris Pratt
    Cledus/The Snowman: Chris Evans (no, really!)
    Carrie/Frog: Jennifer Lawrence
    Buford T. Justice: Vincent D’Onofrio
    Junior: Michael Cera
    Big Enos: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
    Little Enos: Peter Dinklage

    The Cars (Chrysler product placement version):

    Bandit 1: Dodge Challenger SRT 392 (stretches budget a little at $46k)
    Bandit 2: Kenworth W900 (why replace an icon when it’s still available new?)
    Sheriff Justice’s cruiser: Dodge Charger Pursuit

    The Cars (Ford product placement version):

    Bandit 1: Ford Mustang GT Premium
    Bandit 2: Kenworth W900
    Sheriff Justice’s cruiser: Ford (Taurus) Police Interceptor Ecoboost

    The Cars (GM product placement version):

    Bandit 1: Camaro SS
    Bandit 2: Kenworth W900
    Sheriff Justice’s cruiser: Caprice PPV

    The Caper:

    The Enoses challenge Bandit to deliver 400 cases of Karbach Sympathy for the Lager from Houston to Darlington in time for the start of the Bojangles Southern 500. Wacky hijinks ensue as Bandit encounters Carrie, who is fleeing an “accidental” marriage to Junior Justice. Junior’s father, Sheriff Buford T. Justice, is mostly trying to save face by bringing her back.

  • avatar


    Not sorry.

  • avatar

    Modern day?
    Bandit would have to be in a Focus ST.
    Snowman would have to have a Harvester Lone Star tractor with a Pit Bull.
    The contraband? A trailer full of Sudafed.
    Big and Little Enos would probably still have the Red Eldorado.

  • avatar

    It wouldn’t be a Mustang, Challenger or Camaro. Back in 1977, the Trans Am was something that normal, 20-something people bought. The mid-life crisis coupes of today aren’t filling the same role, and young Sally Fields sure wouldn’t want a ride. The Bandit, not his name since nobody has a CB handle today, would drive a 435i. Don’t worry about the price, because he’ll lease it just like everyone else that drives one.

  • avatar

    2015 Ford Torino GT. No questions about it.

    I know its vaporware someone did in photoshop, but I think it pulls off the over inflated ’70-71 Torino look pretty decently in a modern package and exactly what the Bandit would drive :)

    Ford should built this on the D4 platform, wouldn’t cost them anything, D4 is long paid for, and would be better Eco-Boost V6 showcase than the SHO. Of course base models with fwd would disappoint.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    How about smuggling ‘heavy’ beer into Utah. Bootlegging is still a crime there especially if they are in keg form, which you can not purchase in the momo state.

    Start in Texas with a semi loaded with Austin’s finest micro brew and work your way up the back roads where some off roading is necessary to elude the 5 Ohhh. Trip ends at the salt flats

    Raptor with some LED light bars, loud flowmaster pipes. Can be had for 35k in the used market, since the author does indicate 2010 or newer.

    Gonna go with Will Ferril as the bandit, Anna Kendrick as Sally fields and billy bob Thornton as the snowman. They bald guy from the daily show a the sheriff chasing the crew.

    You need some comedic genius to pull this off.

  • avatar

    Hmmm, modern interpretation would be legal marijuana from Colorado going to Georgia.

    Politically incorrect, attention-grabbing, modern redneck icon these days would be a truck rather than an sporty coupe: How about a Ford Raptor?

    Lots of great dirt-road chase scenes start now… and they wouldn’t destroy as many doing jumps during filming, though the FWD Ford Taurus cop cars would be dropping like flies.

  • avatar

    Mark, as a current owner of a 1977 Trans Am SE, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the “Bandit” had “snowflake” wheels, not “honeycombs,” which were on the 1976 SE.

    Fun fact- the movie was shot in 1976, meaning that the “1977” Trans Ams in S&TB were actually 1976 models fitted with 1977 front clips.

    Also, in the remake, the Bandit would be smuggling legal medical marijuana from Colorado.

    I don’t think any $35,000 car today has the audacity of the 1977 Trans Am. We just aren’t as flashy today with our car choices.

  • avatar

    Heck, why not a resto-mod ’77 Trans Am? I’d suggest a SVT Raptor but the thing doesn’t handle.

    Chris Pratt to play the Bandit
    Woody Harrelson to play the truck driver
    Bill Paxton or Tommy Lee Jones as Buford T. Justice
    Emma Stone as the girl (have no idea what her name is)

    • 0 avatar

      I suspect an SVT Raptor probably handles better than a ’77 Trans Am ever did in real life. Just a guess, I haven’t driven a Raptor.

      • 0 avatar

        The Raptor handles like s**t on road, unfortunately. Apparently great off road, though.

  • avatar

    Why mess with what already worked :

  • avatar

    The ’77 Trans Am was culturally relevant in a way that today’s Camaro definitely isn’t. If a hairy-chested man in the 70’s wanted to ooze machismo and masculinity, the Camaro/TA/Firebird would fit the fill. Today, I’m not sure a car exists that does this, as our culture seems to have changed, hairy chests have given way to shaved chests, and masculinity (and femininity) is now undefined. Young men don’t care as much about vehicles and their image is less defined by them. New cars and trucks are too slick and polished to give men a rugged image. I really don’t think anything exists that could give a man the image that the ’77 Trans Am gave Burt.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    Key and Peele drive the car and truck respectively. Car? If we must a 5.0GT, or perhaps a Escalade with that sweet 420 HP 460 foot pound 6.2.

    What are they carrying? A load of bluefin tuna for the big brass at transplant motors out for a celebration of the 1,000,000 vehicle made?

    Why because Key’s dad/uncle/high school pal screwed up the shipment and if the fish doesn’t get there the plant closes and evil Mr. Satou will ship the equipment and jobs to the new plant in Mexico.

    Or Jay Z. From his work I think he has some first or close second hand experience with bootlegging.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    A Raptor or a Hennessy Yukon

  • avatar

    It must have skunk stripes, in contrasting colors obviously. Plus chrome 20″ wheels. And supercharged if possible.

  • avatar

    A 35k limit drops the choices. Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, Charger, Subaru?

    Someone pointed out pickups.
    For 35k that eliminates the 6.2 from Chevy. Raptors cost more than 35k. Maybe a Tradesmen 5.7 Ram.
    Don’t think that a SRT Grand Cherokee can be had for 35k.

    My ’68 Galaxie with stock 10.5/1 compression 4V dual exhaust 390 used to beat up on all of those FireChicken’s and IROC Camaro’s.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    That $35 grand figure given is quite misleading. If anyone ever heard the sound of the Bandit, it had extensive work done to the engine.

    I would also state the rims and tyres on the vehicle were not standard or the suspension and brakes. The Bandit would of been a highly modified vehicle, in essence a racer.

    How much would an engine back in the late 70s have cost to ‘work’? Then add all of the other costs.

    I would think nowadays a good bandit replacement would not be American Iron. That is ideal so much yesteryear. This is the era of foreign performance.

    If you want to attract attention a nice Godzilla would be the ultimate bandit.

  • avatar

    For me there can only be one car, since it is staring right at my face outside my office. A 2014 Yellow 2SS Camaro Convertible with RS package. It’s bright, it’s fast, it has the obligatory rally stripes, all the options including heads up display, open air like the t-tops of the original. Plus the 6.2 is a gem of an engine… guy purchased it and then traded a month after because of a divorce and now it can be had for 35K including Tax, Tittle, Reg when it was originally 47K.

    Contraband: Marijuana from Colorado

    Sally Field: Tina Fey (Don’t ask me why but she reminds me of Sally)

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    I’m in agreeement with Big Al. The 35k is an illusion, as the T/A was upgraded for movie work. In that vein, we’re looking for 2010 or newer worth no more than 35k, but we’ll not factor in the upgrades. With that being said, its gotta be something with T-tops or a droptop. Why not a drop top Challenger R/T that appears to be lightly modded. With a whip antenna mounted to the trunk – its going to look unreal.

    Casting – I can’t cast worth bleep, but what the heh….

    Bandit: Matthew McConaughey
    Carrie: Elizabeth Banks
    Snowman: Brad Paisley (lets keep a country singer for traditions sake)
    Buford T. Justice: Kevin Spacey
    Junior: Peyton Manning
    Big Enos: Terry Crewes
    Little Enos: Peter Dinklage

    • 0 avatar

      The idea that the Trans Am used was upgraded doesn’t match the story line, which necessitated that they come up with a new car to use overnight. It would have had to have been bought out of dealer inventory. Also, the car sounds great in the movie, but the cars used for filming were all automatics and the soundtrack was based on some car with a manual transmission. It could have been anything with a V8.

  • avatar

    Smart4two driven by Mr. Bean. No.

  • avatar

    The very original modern Camaro SS, before the Honda tailights, before the exaggerated lower grille, before GM goofed up a decent if impractical design.

  • avatar

    Why not McConaughey? He can grow a mustache and apply corny southern charm out the wazoo.

    And he can carry the hipster-approved Anty Gin in his 2012 CTS AWD Wagon 3.6L.

  • avatar

    You know what forget about cool things like speed, oversteer, & handling. The Bandit would need to blend in with his surroundings and not be noticed, the ONLY option is to drive a CRV coupled with navigation.

    End thread!

  • avatar

    “Harold and Kumar Escape Smokey”

  • avatar

    New Glarus Brewery Spotted Cow beer is ONLY available in Wisconsin.

  • avatar

    I feel like a Nissan 370Z is a pretty suitable modern analogue, although the lack of obnoxawesome paint job and T-tops, and foreign badge aren’t idea. But then the only modern options close to the T-tops are the Corvette and 911 Targa, and those are both outside of the price range (I suppose you could get a 2010ish C6 in that price range, and it’d be an okay substitute). Or, taking the panorama roof as a modern alternative, there was the odd glass-roofed Mustang a few years ago, although that was fixed.

  • avatar

    Do we have to buy new? A few seconds with google can find a 2010 GT500 with an asking price dangerously close to 35 grand.

  • avatar

    Chris Rock in a Raptor running interference for a Transit full of Cush.

  • avatar

    Lot of great suggestions here. I would absolutely go see, on opening weekend, a Bandit remake starring Ryan Reynolds/Tina Fey/Terry Crewes/Peter Dinklage/Tommy Lee Jones/et al.

    Here’s my question: why hasn’t this movie been made yet? The plot writes itself, casting should be fairly easy, other than payroll production costs should be low…. all the shitty remakes we suffer through (Poltergeist, anyone) and this one isn’t being done?

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Jeff S: Nissan should consider making a true compact pickup and so should Mitsubishi and since Renault owns some of...
  • Jeff S: @DenverMike–Before Renault Nissan made some good vehicles. Nissan has a history of make reliable and...
  • Jeff S: Agree I like sedans as well but besides Nissan sedans being the mainstay of rental car fleets and credit...
  • dal20402: I’m just describing the sales landscape. Don’t blame me; I love sedans.
  • Lou_BC: @28-Cars-Later – Toyota’s heritage (western or otherwise) is reliable but bland appliances. That...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber