It's been said that a salesman is paid exactly what he's worth. Whether it's cars or real estate or anything else, sales professionals are rewarded for their efforts with financial compensation commensurate with their performance. The greatest of all sales people receive additional recognition in the form of awards and other citations.

During the '60s, the cream of the Pontiac dealers received DeLorean Awards for Excellence and other awards to distinguish themselves from lesser-performing sales forces. Similarly, Pontiac bestowed a very special award on a man who didn't even work for the company yet represented the marque like no one had before, becoming perhaps Pontiac's best salesman of the '70s. He helped move more Firebirds in that period than just about anyone. Who could it be, you ask? Why none other than the Bandit himself, Mr. Burt Reynolds.

In 1978, still reeling from the windfall that the film Smokey and the Bandit provided in terms of Firebird sales, Pontiac Motor Division presented Reynolds with a black Special Edition Trans Am, one that looked like those used in the movie. This was not the first time. Reynolds had received a Trans Am the previous year and others after this one, but the story of this particular car is interesting and also has historical significance beyond its owner.

In order to put the entire Special Edition Trans Am story into perspective, one must understand the option codes for the years in question. The '77 Special Edition was available in black and with or without T-tops. The solid-roofed version was option code Y81, while the T-top version, which used hatches manufactured by Hurst, was code Y82. The Y82 was far more popular, selling 13,706 units to the Y81's 1,861.

In January 1978, Solar Gold was added to the choice of SE colors, and it featured a new roof-hatch system from Fisher Body. In addition to being larger, the Y88 Trans Am hatches were coated with a mirrored-gold treatment. Due to paint problems and other issues, the Y88 Trans Ams did not return for 1979, though strangely, Solar Gold did. At the same time, a black Special Edition Trans Am was also available that used Fisher hatches with smoked glass, option code Y84.

Interestingly, there appears to have been some overlap in the production of Blackbirds with Hurst and Fisher hatches. Though the Fisher units were clearly designed to replace the Hurst design, the Y82s were built at the Norwood assembly plant into at least late January of 1978, and production of Y84s began in Van Nuys on December 9.

Canadian Trans Am researcher Patrick Smith has uncovered a lot of information on Special Edition Trans Ams and our feature car in particular, much of it available on the Web at www.firebirdtransamparts.com.

"I was following some leads and tracked this car through to its current owners," Smith said during a recent phone conversation from his home near Toronto. "Independently, both the current owners and I arrived at the same conclusions about this car, and there is plenty of documentation to back up these findings."

Interestingly, both found that the celebrity ownership of this particular Trans Am is not the only thing that makes it special. Burt Reynolds' SE Trans Am was the very first Y84 Special Edition Trans Am, built on the first day of production for that option at the Van Nuys assembly plant. Its buildsheet was pink, a color that denotes either a Brass Hat or pilot-line car, which also makes it stand out amongst others; this Trans Am was actually both. It was special-ordered and delivered to Prestige Pontiac, also in Van Nuys. From there, it was presented to Mr. Reynolds.