Update: 840-Horsepower Trans Am Bandit Almost Too Powerful to Dyno
Burt Reynolds, a Saudi royal, and a grandmother are all signing up.
Last week, we covered the debut of the Trans Am Bandit SE, a Burt Reynolds-autographed 840-horsepower Camaro SS that underwent a serious overhaul to become a contemporary take on Smokey and the Bandit’s Screaming Chicken. Dozens of other media outlets wrote up the rubber burner, too. “We’ve been getting calls nonstop,” Scott Womack, the brainchild behind the creation, told us at the New York Auto Show this weekend. “It’s been insane. Our office can barely keep up with the demand.”
With only 77 slotted for production, prospective buyers better act quick: More than one-third of that limited quantity is already spoken for. “We’re taking $1,000 deposits along with a portion of the $127,000 bill, which guarantees you a number,” says Womack, co-owner of the Trans Am Depot, which makes the asphalt annihilators. The first completed one, displayed at the NYIAS, was finished days before. “We brought it down to the wire,” the Tallahassee-based Womack grins, a hint of his Southern accent peeking through. “But we already sold it.”
Womack showed us the bill of sale, bound in premium leather, that has this car destined for the Middle East and a member of the Saudi royal family. He wanted it with an automatic. “Half the orders are for automatics,” Womack says. Ask if that’s upsetting and Womack is diplomatic. “Personally, I prefer manual, but whatever the customer wants, we’re happy to accommodate.”
Among the more vexing parts of the design process was getting the t-tops perfect. “That took thousands of hours of design and testing,” he admits. “We couldn’t get them to seal without leaking,” adding that they now vulcanize GM rubber in their own factory to affix to carbon fiber exterior panels. The result is an airtight fit for a piece that's light enough to take off with one hand. “We test them with a smoke machine and a pressure washer. They’re rock solid now,” Womack beams. A new problem presented itself just last week, however. “We’re having a hard time getting it dynoed. Even at 1,000 revs, it’s got so much yank, it just keeps kicking out of the dyno,” he laughs, adding he thinks the twist to the tires is somewhere around 720 lb-ft.
To those who scoff at the use of a Camaro SS as a base, Womack points out that the Camaro and the Firebird were step-brothers, built in the same factory. “It’s the only way to do this. Besides, the Trans Am always looked like a Camaro.” The offerings got Burt Reynolds’ seal of approval. “He’ll be getting a car later in the run. We’re trying to give Burt the production number that matches his college football jersey,” Womack says. Reynolds, now 80, won’t be the only aging owner of such a beast.
“We had a Florida grandmother, somewhere around 70, call up and order a Trans Am with our 720HP performance package. Now, that’s a 10-second engine, but she called back asking about upgrades. We told her it’d be more than enough since she only wanted something to get to and from the grocery store. But she called back later and ordered the 840HP engine instead,” Womack laughs. Be forewarned, Publix shoppers. Granny’s coming for her Nespresso. She'll be bringing the donuts.