Burt Reynolds and the Pontiac Trans-Am: a quintessential American combination, like Batman and Robin, or chilidogs and type two diabetes. If you grew up in America in the 1980s, you grew up watching this cocksure, mustachioed chewing-gum aficionado evade armies of ham-fisted cops across a Kentucky-fried nation of perpetually collapsing bridges. (And if you were anything like me you nearly choked to death taking your BMX bike off a homemade ramp with a mouthful of Big League Chew.)
1977’s ‘Smokey and the Bandit” and 1980’s “Smokey and the Bandit II” are American petrolhead classics, but they don’t contain the dynamic duo’s craziest scene, arguably the most bonkers car chase of all time.
In 1978, Burt Reynolds and another ’78 Pontiac Trans Am - red this time - teamed up with “Bandit” director Hal Needham for “Hooper, The Greatest Stuntman Alive.” The film climaxes with a chase scene so absurd that Needham could’ve lifted it from the pages of Salvador Dali’s dream diary. It’s four minutes of pure chaos in which Reynolds and co-star Jan-Michael Vincent, who occupies the driver’s seat, powerslide their Trans-Am through an American town disintegrating beneath the weight of apparent apocalyptic mass hysteria.
Motorcycle riders ditch their bikes for no reason, a Mustang slides off the road into an open grave (or something), an ambulance hilariously be-bops a man in a wheelchair through the front of a hospital, everything explodes, including, of course, the only bridge out of town. Luckily this particular Trans-Am is equipped with the rare rocket booster dealer option allowing it (or rather a tube-framed car custom built for the jump) to clear the 456-foot gap with relative ease.
Hooper’s catalyst for all this chaos is the filming of an earthquake scene in Reynold’s character’s last movie as a stunt man. But the chase is much more fun devoid of context.
This may very well be the most insane car chase ever recorded. What do you think, CTzens? Got any wilder suggestions?