WESTBURY, New York — Burt Reynolds turned in the keys to his metaphysical Trans Am in September, but his spirit lived on this weekend in the form of a car parade of fans, who gathered in Long Island for one last tribute to the man behind the mustache.
The Trans Ams parade was meant as a memorial to Reynolds' character in "Smokey and the Bandit," but it also happened to take place in the week after the last three cars in his estate's collection sold at auction for a reported $330,000 — a lot that included an exact replica of the Trans Am he drove in the film.
"When we lost him back in August, many of us lost a part of us, and many car lovers lost a part of them," town councilman Anthony D’Esposito said, kicking off the rally.
Though their cars all looked the same, the drivers all had different reasons for being there.
"He was a real man. I mean, words can’t describe how sexy he was — the tight jeans, the 'stache, the hat, the glasses — anything the man was in was fabulous," said Linda Cross, a rally participant driving a car with Reynolds' signature on the glove compartment.
"We come to all car shows, especially when we heard there’d be Trans Ams in tribute to Burt Reynolds. One of the best movies of all time is 'Smokey and the Bandit,'" Mike Morgan said. His son added, "And we also came because I love car shows!"
Whatever their personal reasons for attending, there was something they could all agree on: The guy drove a cool car.
"Back then, I was living with my grandmother, and she looked out the window and she says, 'Gee, that guy’s got a beautiful car.' I think it says a lot about the Firebird Trans Am," said Michael Wellbrock.
"They’re sexy. They’re glamorous. They make a blonde look fabulous," said Cognac Wellington.
And for most, the car is inextricably tied to Reynolds.
"To us, this is for Burt, this is our memorial to him. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have fallen in love with this car. It’s all him," Cross said.
This segment originally aired October 4, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.