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Reynolds Rap

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It is difficult to determine just which Burt Reynolds image is the most iconic. Is it sans-mustache playing prison football as Paul “Wrecking” Crewe in The Longest Yard? Or maybe launching a 1977 Firebird Trans Am over a broken bridge to evade sheriff Buford T. Justice in Smokey and the Bandit? Maybe it’s his antics in the cross-country road race Cannonball Run. Or how about drawing a compound bow in a wetsuit vest to spear fish and hunt inbred yokels in Deliverance? Actually, it’s probably his appearance as the first ever fully-nude male centerfold in a major magazine, grinning on a bear-skin rug in the April 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan.

Reynolds embodies the concept of a man’s man. His gruff-yet-smooth demeanor, his frequent portrayals of hard-living, lovable tough guys, his willingness to always show chest hair, and of course, the mustache are all part of his masculine mystique. And like Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Paul Newman, Reynolds is a classic Hollywood car guy.

It was the Hal Needham choreographed car chase in a Citroën SM that landed him in prison in The Longest Yard. And speaking of Needham, Reynold’s portrayal of JJ McClure in Cannonball Run was based on the director’s real-life outlaw race in a Dodge Tradesman ambulance. But when it comes to Burt Reynolds and bespoke rides, the black and gold 1977 Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit has to take the cake.

The T-top Firebird was to American muscle cars what James Bond was to British roadsters. The car that evaded Justice was faster and handled better than the Corvette of the same generation. Sales jumped by almost 30,000 units in 1977 and 1978, and then another 24,000 in 1979. Every gearhead and car enthusiast in the country could picture themselves outrunning Jackie Gleason in the Starlight Black Special Edition. And who can forget that legendary golden phoenix emblazoned on the hood? Two decades later, the Trans Am was still one of the most sought-after cars by drivers of my generation.

Burt Reynolds oozes cool, and even at age 81, he is an icon of masculinity. His automotive acumen is almost as fabled as his chest hair and mustache, and he will always be the hero of outlaws and bearskin rug lovers everywhere.

-Trey Fennell



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