You remember. It was back when Burt had hair. It was disco biscuits. It was gold chains. It was when the musclecar looked like a hangover and ran like a flabby balloon. It was way form over function by then, but that didn't seem to matter to thousands of hip young buyers who signed their lives away for a car that rascally he-man Burt, via Smokey and the Bandit, had ostensibly revived from the nearly-dead.
Thirty years down the road, Burt's got hair again and is still going strong and making movies. Year One has collaborated with the image of his virile self to resurrect the aura and produce the Burt Reynolds Edition (BRE) Trans Am. The idea was a car that maintained the visual appeal of the original '77 SE Trans Am as used in Smokey. The other half of the equation was to elevate the entire package in terms of performance, driving, and all the right stuff inside. The mission would also offer the opportunity to correct all the bad things about the original TA.
"While it was important to maintain the heritage of the original so that anyone who saw it would immediately recognize the car as a 'Bandit,' we also wanted the entire package to be modern," Year One's Keith Maney says. "This is why we've updated the lighting, flush-mounted the glass, and updated the graphics package. The performance side of the equation was simple-we wanted to build the ultimate second-generation F-body using the best stuff currently available."
At the time of this writing, all we have is subjective input, nothing documented. The car had yet to be tested or instrumented on an open track, but by all inputs to the seat of our pants, Year One accomplished its mission in spades. Naturally, the fun-ticket tariff is high. Very high. So high you've really got to want one bad. As it sits, this representative of the Ban-III level BRE TA was a breezy $175,000 (consider that the entry-level Bandit is $130K). Pretty exclusive territory no matter how fast you're running. What other four-wheel icons could you covet for that kind of cash? All right, it's not really about value, it's about exclusivity. Maybe money can buy love after all.
"Visually, we think we've succeeded, although style is very subjective," Keith says. "Performance-wise, the car is amazing. Great power, tremendous grip, decent ride, and a comfortable interior."
Let's start at the beginning and see where all that money goes. Because maintaining the Trans Am heritage is absolutely vital, all cars begin as an original so that the VIN and title are for a TA, not a glorified Firebird. There are three levels of excitement in which to wallow. The second and third stages are delineated by Ban II and Ban III; the first stage is Prototype 1. It retains the factory leaf-spring suspension. It will be special order only. Ban II is a max-use mainstream ride and romps on a tube sub-frame, tubular control arms, a four-link rear suspension, and coilover shocks. Engine choices range from a 430hp or 550hp 461ci Pontiac, a 500hp LS2, or a 600hp version cozying up to a Rootes-type supercharger. Tranny options include the Tremec TKO or an automatic overdrive. Rolling stock is comprised of 18x10 and 18x12 wheels and 13-inch rotors all around.
Ban III cars are standard with a 515hp LS7, a 605hp dry-sump version of same, or a 540ci Pontiac pushing 605 hp (an aluminum cylinder block and fuel injection are optional). Both versions get big disc brakes, honkin' fat BFG or Michelin rubber on special Year One billet hoops, and various chassis and body enhancing bits.
The object of this report is the Ban III (actually Prototype 2) that had just completed the 3,000-mile Hot Rod Power Tour. All the structural and dynamic changes in it are vested in all the others. Bodies are completely restored before the conversion, and most, especially a leak-prone T-top, have new floors from firewall to rear axle. New quarters, door skins, etc., are routine additions.
A rigid chassis is a requisite for fine-line handling, so Year One could not help but tie the car together with a Jim Meyer Racing subframe, Year One sub-frame connectors, and a four-point rollcage. Ban III includes some pretty hefty 30-series Michelin Sports, and has had the wheelhouses deepened accordingly. Filling out those holes are some mighty pretty renditions of the original factory alloys, but they're a lot less gold and much deeper than the old hoops. With widths up to a foot wide, the one-piece Billet Snowflake seems just the right accompaniment for the Bandit cars. It's what the '08 Trans Am could be wearing ... were it still alive.
The result is a clean, strikingly smooth silhouette where all the lines meet and diminish, almost as if the body were extruded. The illusion is as if it's made from a single piece. A larger rear window glass was custom-made to allow a flush-fit. This effect required welding a quarter-inch spacer into the window channels to push the edges of the backlight, as well as the windshield, to the limits of the body reveals.
Fender flares are also flush-fit, custom crafted, and based on the '79-and-later style altered slightly and fitted to the body without welting. The OE welting had a nasty habit of cracking, fading, shrinking, and squeezing out. Remember how the rubber schnozzle on these paint-cracked and inevitably faded to a different shade than the one on the body? The front fascia was prototyped in fiberglass and will be offered as a direct replacement for the original soft nose. LED taillights were also prototyped and may be offered as well.
BRE cars will sport reproduction front and rear fiberglass bumper covers, driving lights, one-piece composite/projection headlamps (blue light), and front brake cooling ducts in the lower part of the nose, the Ban III being no exception. The Year One shop anointed it with BASF Glasurit black base/clear coat. Then the crew spun flat black and gold pinstripe accents on the bird as well as the fender air extractors, flairs, sail panels, and spoiler.
Though the purpose and the ability of the interior have been elevated, the ambience has not. It's pure Smokey, only a lot better. Jeff Henderson of Henderson's Upholstery in Sugar Hill, Georgia, did the Cerullo front seats in black and distressed gold leather-and it shouts 175 large in a way that, frankly, a Lamborghini just can't manage.
These special seats are braced by an engine-turned gauge panel and Auto Meter Sport Comp II engine meters, a Just Dashes pad, door panels aching with engine-turned aluminum inserts draped by G-Force harnesses, and a reproduction Formula steering wheel (our favorite). As part of a leather-lined, air conditioned sanctum, the Ban III kicked with high-def: Alpine DVD/Nav head unit followed by Boston Acoustics amps, subwoofer, and speakers.
Though the times have changed, the Bandit has not. It whispers dark power. It speaks control. It shouts freedom of movement. Whazzit? Hell, it was only Burt ... sailing past us at 100 ... in reverse!
By The Numbers'77 Pontiac Trans Am Prototype 2Built by Year One, Braselton, GAVehicle weight w/driver: 3,700 lbs
|Type: ||GM Gen IV 7.0L (4.125 bore x 4.00 stroke) |
|Block: ||GM LS7 block |
|Compression ratio: ||11.0:1 |
|Oiling: ||dry sump system, 8-quart reservoir |
(modified by Year One)
|Rotating assembly: ||GM 4.00-inch stroke |
forged steel crankshaft, titanium connecting rods,
GMPP forged pistons
|Cylinder heads: ||CNC-ported, 70cc combustion |
chambers, 12-degree valve angle,
2.20-inch titanium intake valves, 1.61-inch
sodium-filled exhaust valves
|Camshaft: ||Katech Torquer LS-7, .615/.648-inch lift, |
220/244 degrees duration at .050-inch,
110-degree LSA, GM timing gear
|Valvetrain: ||hydraulic roller lifters, pushrods, |
1.8:1 roller rocker arms (intake side offset)
|Induction: ||LS7 composite intake manifold, |
Holley 90mm throttle body,
MSD engine management system
with Delphi MEFI-4 ECM, Year One
fabricated cold-air box, K&N filter,
functional shaker hood,
dual Walbro in-tank fuel pumps
|Power adder: ||none |
|Ignition: ||MSD ECM-driven coil-near-plug |
|Exhaust: ||custom-built by Jeff Georges, |
Stainless Works stainless steel pipes
(developed by Year One), 2-inch primaries,
3-inch collectors, Magnaflow 3-inch
stainless steel system w/ X-pipe,
Year One stainless steel splitters
|Fasteners: ||Industrial Depot |
|Built by: ||GM Performance Parts |
|Transmission: ||Tremec TKO-600 5-speed, |
Pro-Motion short-throw shifter,
Ram dual-disc clutch assembly,
Pro-Motion hydraulic linkage
|Driveshaft: ||Precision Shaft Technologies |
|Rear axle: ||Moser 12-bolt, 33-spline axle shafts, |
limited-slip differential, 3.73:1 gearset,
aluminum differential cover
|Front suspension: ||Jim Meyer Racing tubular |
subframe, tubular upper and lower control arms
w/Heim joints, Alston Vari-Shock billet aluminum
coilover shocks, Year One frame connectors
|Rear suspension: ||Detroit Speed & Engineering |
four-link (modified by Year One
for second-gen chassis),
adjustable tubular links,
adjustable tubular Panhard rod,
Koni adjustable coilover shocks
|Brakes: ||Baer 6-piston calipers |
and 2-piece 14-inch rotors,
Hydro-Boost power assist unit
|WHEELS &TIRES |
|Wheels: ||Year One Billet Snowflake |
18x10, front; 18x12, rear
|Tires: ||Michelin Pilot Sport 285/35ZR18 front; |