Smokey and the Bandit Moved Car Culture

45 Years Ago This Summer

Smokey’s plot is bone simple.

Big Enos and Little Enos Burdette make a bet with truck driving duo Bo “The Bandit” Darville and Cledus Snow that they can’t get from Atlanta, Georgia to Texarkana, Texas, pick up 400 cases of bootleg Coors

The complications come in the form of Carrie “Frog”

Who is fleeing her wedding to Junior Justice and his father the obsessed Sheriff Buford T. Justice. A pursuit across the south ensues.

It was the right movie for its cultural moment

During 1974, in response to the crisis resulting from the OPEC oil embargo, President Richard Nixon signed the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act that imposed a national 55 mph speed limit.

A Confederate battle flag as part of the Trans Am’s front license plate.

The cultural standards of 1977 weren’t those of the 21st century.

By the end of 1977

the entertainment industry was planning to do what it always does: imitate success.
It was called The Dukes of Hazzard.

No,Smokey and the Bandit has not had the same cultural impact as Star Wars.

But Pontiac sold an unfathomable number Trans Ams after the film came out.
The year before Smokey, the GM division sold a healthy 46,701 Trans Ams during 1976.

That was, however, a long-time ago. And Trans Am sales collapsed

The two Smokey sequels were, uh, not so good and not so profitable. Then there was a series of TV movies where the Bandit wasn’t Burt Reynolds and drove a Japanese-made Dodge Stealth instead of a T/A. Not great.

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