By Tim Linscott, Managing Editor
A piece of Hollywood history will be on display this Friday night, Aug. 1, in Grant as part of the third annual Cruise Night.
One of the last remaining original ‘Smokey and the Bandit II’ cars, a 1980 Trans-Am, currently owned by Grant native Scott Bullock will be the centerpiece of Cruise Night.
It will be on display in the City Park starting at 6:30 p.m. to coincide with the hot dog meal.
Classic cars will then cruise around with emceed descriptions of the vehicles given for the public, along with great music.
Popcorn and a public showing of ‘Smokey and the Bandit,’ at dusk (9 p.m.) will end the evening.
The event is sponsored by the City of Grant and the free movie is put on by the Perkins County Chamber of Commerce and Midwest Electric.
Bullock’s car has had a long and storied history. Bullock has researched the tale of the 1980 Trans Am. It was used in the sequel to 1977s ‘Smokey and the Bandit,’ starring Burt Reynolds and Jackie Gleason, ‘Smokey and the Bandit II.’
The vehicles were driven so hard by stunt crews they would be demolished at the end of shooting. Bullock believes this is the last, or possibly one of two, of the vehicles to survive the sequel.
The exact vehicle Bullock owns was owned by Burt Reynolds for 11 years. Reynolds owned the vehicle until 1991, when he sold it to his neighbor. The neighbor sold it in 1993 to a classic car museum, Nelson’s Garage and Car Museum, in Deadwood, S.D.
Bullock told owners of the museum for years he was interested in purchasing the vehicle and, in 2010, his wish was granted.
“I had a Trans Am in high school, so to get a chance to own something like this was just awesome,” Bullock said of his experience in buying the piece of movie history.
In 2011 Bullock took the vehicle to Bowling Green, Ky., for the Pontiac Nationals, where four different Trans Ams were featured, along with a replica semi-truck, driven in the movies by ‘The Snowman,’ played by Jerry Reed.
At the event in Kentucky, Bullock met Hal Needham, producer for such hits as ‘Smokey and the Bandit,’ ‘Hooper,’ ‘Cannonball Run,’ and ‘Stroker Ace.’
Needham was an innovator as a stuntman and a former roommate of Reynolds. He signed Bullock’s Trans Am in several spots.
The vehicle still had some of Reynolds’ personal artifacts in it and was only one of two Trans Am cars Reynolds would personally drive.
Bullock is only a steward of this piece of history.
“We just try to preserve these vehicles for history,” Bullock said, adding that one of the favorite things about owning this classic car is seeing the faces on children as they marvel at the car. “It means a lot to see kids and younger people look at it and wow over it. It means they still watch the movie.”