For almost two decades now, we’ve been enjoying a new Golden Age of muscle cars. Alas, not unlike the original era that saw these machines rising to road and track fame in the mid-1960s/late 1970s, the party is about to end due to fuel efficiency regulations. So, while two of Detroit’s Big Three (hint: not GM) are making efforts to keep the V8 in showrooms until full electrification takes over, the digital community is also doing its part. Case in point with this pixel work, which brings two iconic muscle cars together (think: Pontiac Firebird Trans Am “Smokey and the Bandit” and Buick GNX) in ways that might’ve previously seemed unimaginable.
The 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that starred in the road action comedy hit Smokey and the Bandit is a full decade apart from the 1987 Buick GNX. The latter is an experimental Grand National—hence its name—that secured a place in the history books and car collections alike for the G-Body model’s final year. So, how come these are now united in 2D?
While the title of this story is focused on the GNX, you should know that graphic designer Jim (aka jlord8) actually decided these two American symbols should trade features.
The (real-life) 1977 Trans Am “Bandit” and the 1988 Buick GNX are closer than you might imagine
As a result, the Buick got a Bandit makeover. While this is mostly a visual affair, black and gold theme and all, it does come with a targa top, a feature that was never offered on a Grand National. So, while the GNX earned its stripes by going fast, this transformation gifts it with pop culture attributes in a move that seems to also make wonders in the real world.
Conversely, the mighty-looking 1977 Trans Am that helped Burt Reynolds cement his superstar status wasn’t actually all that quick. Sure, it packs a 400 ci (6.55L) V8, but this only makes around 200 hp, albeit with the torque number sitting at 320 lb-ft (434 Nm). So, despite the GNX sporting two fewer cylinders (more on this below), the Poncho could use the Buick’s tech side.
That’s because when Buick decided to give the Grand National a retirement party, it sent the 547 units to McLaren (yes, that McLaren), which introduced larger turbos for the 3.8-liter V6, along with an updated suspension and others. And the GNX quarter-miled its way into success, running down the strip in 12.7s at 113 mph/182 kph, which made it a noticeable 0.3s quicker than a Ferrari F40, the last Prancing Horse overseen by Enzo himself.
In the end, the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit and the 1987 Buick GNX share a key point: they had to be about velocity without relying on a capable V8 and they both nailed it. And these renderings aim to offer the best of both worlds for each of the muscle heroes.