Its (Kinda) the Bandit: 1979 Pontiac Trans Am

There are three special places and times that all true Southern boys dream about.  The first is Pickett’s Charge on the last day of the Gettysburg battle.  Second would be delivering moonshine in a 1940 Ford coupe on a moonlit dirt road with revenuers in pursuit.  That one can happen any time between 1945 and 1960.  Third and perhaps most dreamed about is piloting a black Trans Am down some backroad, Sally Field looking spectacular in the passenger seat, and with the law in hot pursuit.  If you dream like I dream, then I have found a way to make your dreams come true.  There is a 1979 Trans Am, with the T-tops and honeycomb wheels, for sale on craigslist in Albertville, Alabama for just $3,500.  The cowboy hat and red button down shirt must be provided by you.

No other movie captures the Southern car culture better than Smokey and the Bandit.  The movie was Hal Needham’s directorial debut and was the most unlikely hit of the 1970s.  Even today, love for the movie grows unabated.  Recently, I attended the Smokey and the Bandit 40th anniversary celebration in Jonesboro, Georgia and was able to see a number of locations where the movie was filmed.  The town was packed with fans of the movie, two replicas of Big Enos Burdett’s Cadillac,  two replicas of Jackie Gleason’s patrol car, four replicas of Snowman’s truck, and over 100 Pontiac Trans Ams.  Oh, and a basset hound that looked just like Fred.  We even got a visit from the Bandit himself, Burt Reynolds.

As you may have surmised, I am kind of a fan of the movie.  Of course, as a fan, I’ve always wanted my own Bandit Trans Am.  Unfortunately, the prices on these have been climbing, and experts tell us they will soon soar out of the reach of the average collector.  The obvious reason is the connection with the movie.  The other reason is, let’s face it, there are not a lot of 1970s era cars that make collectors hearts go pitter patter.  I, like Buford T. Justice, will never give up!

This brings us to our latest barn find.  On the good side, it is a Pontiac Trans Am with T-tops and a 6.6 engine.  All of the car is there, according to the owner, and the rust is limited to a spot on the trunk.  If you’ve ever shopped for one of these cars before, you will agree that finding one of these nearly rust free is a stupendously good thing.  We do have some bad news though.  It is a 1979 model.  In the first movie, the car was a 1976 Trans Am with a 1977 front end.  The second movie found the Bandit piloting a 1980 model Trans Am.  So, we are off by a few years.  The basic body shell is the same, and it shouldn’t be too hard to change front ends to make it match.  Another problem is that it isn’t black, and that the interior is red.  All Trans Ams should be black.  Its like a law in the Constitution or something…

Our biggest obstacle would be the cost to restore this car.  The owner states that every part is there, except for the door panels.  The problem is that many of the other trim items, such as interior, headliner, dash, and all the rubber for the doors and trunk will surely need replacement.  Add to that the cost of all the drivetrain and suspension work you would need to get this car back on the road, and we are talking real money.  The big draw is that it is nearly rust free, has no obvious signs of accident damage, and it has those sweet, leaky T-tops that just make the car.  With a price of just $3500, the owner makes this car a candidate for being restored.  You won’t find one cheaper in this condition body wise.  The question is do you have the funds, the time, and the patience to make this car into one the Bandit would be proud to drive?

Look on the bright side.  You can finance it, and pay for it running blocker for a couple hundred cases bootleg beer or something!

Fast Finds


  1. King Al

    Had a 77 and a 79 T/A new, back in the day. Both Goldenrod Yellow, with black deluxe vinyl seats, and no bird decal on hood. Made hood so clean and long in appearance. 77 was a w72 w 4sp; on 79, missed the cutoff to order the Pontiac 400, so ordered the 403 and auto, plus the WS6. 77 was a more visceral machine, the 79 was a better handler and the 403 was decent. Both were memorable, and wish I still had them today.

  2. Neil

    Had a ’78 T/A here in the UK. Obligatory black with T-tops and a red leather interior. Previous owner had stripped all the US emission control gear off it and swapped the exhaust system for straight through pipes from the manifolds to cherry bombs at the rear with a balancing pipe just after the gear box. 4 speed manual box although 1st and second were redundant really – it would be doing 20 mph in 4th on tick-over. 1st gear was really only good for spinning the tyres :)
    Had only 1 major issue – whenever it rained the well in the boot would fill up – which in the UK was nigh on constantly. Never did find the source of the leaks.
    Really, really, wish I had not sold it to this day.

  3. Don H

    Had gold 79 looked great, it could walk the walk, but could not talk thetalk, week 403 automatic

  4. Curtis

    If that car can fetch $3,500 boy have I let some cars go super cheap over the years…..looks like a parts car to me.

  5. Casey Jones

    Wow. What a bucket, I used to steal my brothers 77′ 4speed WS-6 and go drag racing in the 80’s. Even though it was a 10 year old car it was still a panty dropper and with “GTO guts” inside the 400 block it was a heap load of fun. I still fancy an F body but an earlier 70-72′ Formula. Cue Kevin Spacey in American Beauty talking about his cousins 1970 Firebird… Yup. Italian looking and Poncho American power, it didnt get much better in the 1970’s for Detroit Cars IMO. No without going across the pond.
    Values?! Worth more than most Corvettes of similar vintage, why? The bandit of course 😏

  6. scott

    These are easy to locate in much better condition. Nothing more than an overpriced parts car.

  7. scott
  8. scott

    I would rather pay twice the amount and have nothing to do but drive it.

  9. James

    I can’t stand it when the flipper can’t even wait until the ramps are back on the trailer before they are taking pictures to flip it.

  10. Elrod

    Time of death, 1990

  11. Dan

    I HATE T-tops….no offense…..

  12. Superdessucke

    Leave it as is and go as an old washed-up Bandit and Sally Fields for Halloween.

  13. JunkFixer

    Contrary to what the author believes, a black Bandit™ trash can is not what southern boys dream of and Sally Field is much too progressive for southern boy proclivities.

    Now, the General Lee however …..

    • Bish

      …And Oh My!
      Them “Daisy Dukes!”

    • GaryC Gary C.

      Junk Fixer, I prefer Daisy Duke and the General Lee any day.

  14. Paul

    These are the best cars of this area….they are in my opinion the only car of the 70’s that I would want to own. I see prices only going up…$3500 I believe is a fair price for any solid body trans am….and I love T-tops

  15. Paul

    Southern boy’s do like trans am’s…….any trans am will drive circles around the general lee…..charger is a great strait line car car, however they could never take a corner like a trans am.
    If you just want to look at them Charger or Trans am both cool.
    However if want to drive them the trans am all the way. I am very familiar with both.

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