Although the gold-limned 1977 Pontiac Trans-Am took off on its own, it was the blockbuster “Smokey and the Bandit” that catapulted the classic car to worldwide fame. Collectors from coast to coast keep their eyes open for the creme de la creme: the Special Edition Package (also known as the Bandit package by many connoisseurs). This package featured a large gold chicken detail on the hood, golden pin striping along the sides, twin gold front grilles, and German-style T / A lettering to set it apart from its run-of-the-mill counterparts. Each Bandit package also featured gold snowflake wheels, gold engine-turned dashboard bezels, and gold-accented steering wheels.
The 1977 Firebird was born to dazzle, a refresh of the Trans Am’s less-than-stellar sales over the previous few years. It was designed and developed in honour of Pontiac’s fiftieth anniversary, and it was the perfect counterpart to Burt Reynolds’ lead role in “Smokey and the Bandit.” In fact, after the movie was released, Firebird sales jumped off the charts—from just under 111,000 sales in 1976 to 155,000 in 1977, 187,000 in 1978, and 211,000 in 1979. Of those, about 15,500 1977 models were the Bandit special editions, and about 12,300 in 1978.
Although the Firebird was available with a handful of engine options, the best ones feature 6.6L engines. The W72 handling package featured a Pontiac 400 V8 with a 200 hp engine. These engines had blue valve covers, a hallmark of the 180 and 200 hp versions of the engine. Buyers could also choose between a 4-speed manual transmission and Pontiac’s Hydra-Matic automatic, which offered a whopping 20 more horsepower than the standard V8.
Only a handful of the Firebird Sesames produced—643, to be exact—came with T-Tops (option code Y82); the majority were coded option Y81, with no T-Tops. All Bandit editions came painted black with the trademark golden snowflake wheel inserts. About 2,600 of these SE models were made, and while we don’t have an exact number on remaining 1977 Firebird SEs on the market, it’s safe to assume that there aren’t a lot.
As the years go by, the 1977 Firebird’s allure as a collector car has only gotten stronger. In the 1970’s, the Firebird was a relatively affordable performance car–which set it apart as a desirable (and popular) purchase for many drivers. Today, there are still a handful out there to be found by avid collectors. Of course, the one to seek out is the iconic SE, complete with its screaming gold chicken on the hood and all the sparkly trimmings. But the standard ’77 Firebird offers all the performance car allure and ’70’s style, even if it doesn’t hearken back to movie fame.