After having read about it in the August '07 issue of HPP, you know that YearOne approached Burt Reynolds about lending his name, ideas, and likeness to a special, handbuilt run of Trans Ams to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Smokey and the Bandit. The result of the combined efforts of the YearOne staff, President Kevin King, Chief Designer Phil Brewer, and Burt himself, is presented here.

Keith Maney, director of special projects at YearOne, told HPP, "The idea behind the Burt Reynolds Edition (BRE) T/A program was to build a Trans Am that maintained the visual appeal of the original '77 SE model as used in Smokey and the Bandit while bringing the entire package up-to-date in terms of performance, driving experience, and amenities. While it was important to retain the heritage of the original so that anyone who saw it would immediately recognize the car as a "Bandit," we also wanted the entire package to be modern. This is why we've updated the lighting and graphics package, and flush-mounted the glass. The performance side of the equation was simple-we wanted to build the ultimate Second-Gen F-body using the finest components that were currently available."

Which BRE T/A Is This?
Prototype 2, which HPP drove and photographed for this story, is not the same car that was recently featured in Hot Rod. Keith explains, "This car is the second BRE T/A prototype, and is really the first complete car. Prototype 1 was primarily a visual one used to finalize the appearance package. Conversely, Prototype 2 is representative of a BAN III-level BRE T/A."

On The Road
Having owned a '77 T/A since about 1990, I was excited to drive the BRE Bird to compare and contrast it with memories of driving mine. Sure, the years go by, but the visceral impressions of driving a Second-Gen T/A last a lifetime. Just getting into the BRE car released a flood of memories since it's like my T/A in basic form, yet it has been taken to an advanced level of performance and luxury.

Because no grand touring T/A worth its salt nowadays would be without all the comforts of home in a deluxe cabin, the BAN III version we drove was fitted with leather-clad Cerullo buckets. These seats were comfortable enough to contemplate parking your Barker Lounger out at the curb for the next pickup and bolting the passenger seat to the living-room floor in front of the big screen. They also offered plenty of adjustment to arrive at a perfect driving position and enough support everywhere to keep you planted but not constricted. The latter is the job of the G-Force five-point harnesses-they save lives, and happily, still allow you to reach the controls and pay tolls without requiring contortionist training.

Once seated and buckled in, you realize that the trick stock-appearing (yet much fatter) YearOne leather-wrapped reproduction Formula steering wheel feels more substantial in your hands than the stocker.

As you view the dash, once again the sight is familiar, yet different. The gold engine-turned panel looks like the stock SE T/A's, but it's fitted with custom Auto Meter Sport Comp II gauges. Vintage Air A/C controls hint of another modern upgrade, and the Alpine DVD/Nav head unit with optional touch-screen control takes up residence just above the console. Boston Acoustics speakers live in custom door panels (the amps and subwoofer are in the trunk).

With a twist of the key, the 605-horse 7.0L LS7 engine jumps to life and rumpety-rumps somewhat like a cammed-up engine of old.

Clutch pedal effort feels a lot like a stocker despite the modern Pro Motion hydraulic linkage and HD Ram dual-disc setup. The Pro Motion shifter for the Tremec TKO 600 five-speed is quite stiff and takes some getting used to, but the throws are incredibly short.

Once underway, the T/A rumbles down the road with an authoritative exhaust note thanks to a full 3-inch system, which was developed by YearOne, with 2-inch primary stainless steel headers made by Stainlessworks. It features a MagnaFlow x-type crossover, twin MagnaFlow mufflers, tails, and factory-appearing splitters.

Though we did not have an opportunity for any instrumented testing, we were able to drive the BRE T/A for quite awhile on the back roads and highways around Cleveland just prior to the Hot Rod Power Tour kickoff. This provided a good impression of its real-world street manners.

Despite the fact the suspension had yet to be fully dialed-in, the ride was liveable, and the T/A handled the potholed roads and rough pavement without pitching, bottoming out, or rattling dental work loose. The power rack-and-pinion steering felt a bit overboosted, but that's another item that will be further tuned. Remember, this is a prototype. In the turns, the BRE T/A is stable and flypaper sticky, and the bolstered seats and snug harness keep your posterior off the console or door panel.