“What do you think they do for excitement in this town?”
The iconic ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ theme will be very much to the fore at the tenth-anniversary Full of the Pipe Truck Show, with none other than The Irish Bandit himself on hand in his stunning, customised Pontiac Firebird Trans Am – sure to go down a treat!
The Irish Bandit has become something of a sensation, inspired by the main character in one of the truly great road movies, ‘Smokey and the Bandit’. The record-breaking 1977 American action comedy went down a treat with all truckers and car enthusiasts – it was the second-highest-grossing movie of that year, behind only Star Wars at the box office.
Starring Burt Reynolds as Bo ‘Bandit’ Darville and Jerry Reed as his sidekick, Cledus ‘Snowman’ Snow, the movie charts the shenanigans of the duo as they attempt to illegally transport 400 cases of Coors from Texarkana to Atlanta, with Sheriff Buford T. Justice (‘Smokey’) in hot pursuit. The Bandit drives his trademark black Pontiac Trans Am as a ‘blocker’, while ‘Snowman’ mans the classy Kenworth truck.
The original instalment (which has grossed some $300 million worldwide) and its sequels – ‘Smokey and the Bandit II’ (1980) and ‘Smokey and the Bandit Part 3’ (1983) - are legendary cult classics, which have attracted a loyal fanbase worldwide. There’s nothing quite like ‘Smokey And the Bandit’…
Four 1976 1977 Pontiac Trans Ams (with 1977 front ends) were used in the making of the film, as well as three Kenworth W900A short-frame semi trucks,
After the debut of the film, the Trans Am became wildly popular, with sales almost doubling in two years of the film's release. Reynolds was given the 1977 vehicle used during promotion of the film as a gift and, due to the sales success of the Trans Am, then President of Pontiac Alex Mair promised to supply the actor with a Trans Am each year!
The Trans Am became the epitome of cool, synonymous with ‘Smokey And the Bandit’. Every young lad from Auckland to Aughnacloy wanted to have one. Richard McElwee from County Tyrone is one of the select few in Ireland to have a fully restored Pontiac Trans Am Firebird, a vehicle which has given rise to his alter ego – The Irish Bandit.
The Irish Bandit’s character is fully inspired by the famous car movie in which the iconic Pontiac Firebird Trans Am became famous. And both the Bandit and the celebrated black car – with the roar of its V8 engine – will be amongst the star attractions at Full of the Pipe 2019!
The Irish Bandit with his Pontiac Firebird Trans Am will be leading the Full of the Pipe truck show with non other than The Famous Kenworth ‘Snowman’ lorry – a must see for anyone who loves big trucks and / or American cars. Together, the Trans A and the Snowman lorry – supplied by Mini Movie Trucks – promises to be something very special indeed. An extra little touch added on by FOTP’s organisers, who leave no stone unturned in making sure the event is unforgettable.
Having been on the look-out for a Trans Am for 25 years, Richard finally sourced a stripped down one in County Clare, which the Strabane man painstakingly built back together over the course of six months in early 2016. The car was yellow when he bought it but it was quickly transformed to the iconic black. Over the years, more and more work has gone into the vehicle, which looks like it has been driven straight off the set of Hal Needham’s directorial debut.
Not long after starting to drive the Pontiac Trans Am, Richard began sporting Ray-Bans, western shirts and a Stetson. His accent developed a distinct American drawl. The Irish Bandit was born and a new avenue of opportunities opened up for the affable Tyrone man, including a starring role at Full of the Pipe!
Check out The Irish Bandit’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheIrishBandit.