This coming summer will see the introduction of a new Ford Mustang sprinkled with a bit of McQueen fairydust. But it’ll see some tough competition from the equally new Bandit of a Trans Am.
The new Mustang obviously has absolutely nothing to do with McQueen, as he died in 1980. But Fords PR-department are still trying their hardest to rub some McQueen-coolness into it – even well before the car is officially launched. It’s all amazingly staged that Steve McQueen’s old Highland Green Bullitt-Mustang “coincidently” reappeared this winter after multiple years of being hidden away in some garage. The Mustang GT390 driven by Bullitt is no doubt the most iconic Mustang in the world. All of which easily explains why Ford are trying so hard to make the connection stick.
But Pontiac has a very similar story. The black Trans Am from the movie “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977) is probably just about as famous as McQueen’s green Mustang, and one can only presume that Pontiac would like to cash in on that publicity just like Ford. Only, they didn’t get around to doing so before General Motors sadly killed of the brand in 2010.
The following year, two very, VERYenthusiastic brothers started up the Trans Am Depot. Tod and Scott Womack have owned 50 Trans Ams between them, and they just weren’t ready to see the brand they so loved become extinct. Somehow the two brothers managed to buy the rights to the name after Pontiac disappeared, and from there the road to Hollywood stardom was theirs for the taking: In 2016 they introduced a Bandit Trans Am again. But how you might ask, seeing as Pontiac died six years earlier? Well, they simply used a brand-new Chevrolet Camaro as the base, which of course is historically correct, seeing as that’s how the original Trans Ams came about.
I must confess, it is true to the spirit of Reynolds: Utterly over the top, and just too much in every conceivable way – but all with a suitable wink of the eye and not at all devoid of self-irony. The Camaro / Trans Am is of course quite a spectacular car in the first place, which draws strong parallels to the models glorious predecessors. They’re even right on the ball with the current trend for limited editions: Only 77 examples will be built – hinting at the year the original Bandit movie debuted. Decorated in deep black with even more gold detailing than on the original in 1977, the bodylines are accentuated tenfold, and the Womack brother’s Bandit Trans Am makes its entrance with grand self-assurance.
Should those 77 lucky owners of the new Bandit Trans Am put the pedal to the metal, they too will probably need some self-assurance. Reynolds had the 6.6-litre V8 in one of his movie cars tuned to a stonking 600 horsepower, so the new version obviously needs even more. An earthshattering 840 horsepower is the final result, which should arguably be enough to wet the appetite of most enthusiasts.
Even those Ford diehards who are now considering their options before ordering the new Bullitt Mustang. It certainly won’t match the 840 horsepower. And McQueen is dead. And the whole package just seems rather subtle – dare I say it, almost boring? That’s certainly an accusation no one could ever put on “The Bandit”. To top it all off, the Womack brothers have even succeeded in getting the almost 80-year-old Burt Reynolds to vouch for the new Trans Am: Every car will be personally signed by the one and only Bandit.
This little video which accompanied the introduction of the new Bandit Trans Am says it all. Wooof!