If you’re a fan of high-end custom muscle cars, chances are you’re already a big fan of Steve Strope and everything coming out of his shop, Pure Vision Design in Simi Valley, California. He’s built countless neck-breaking vehicles over the years and one of his latest creations has made its way onto the small screen.
The 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was built for the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge as a one-of-a-kind Champion’s prize. 1979 was an important year for the financial services company and thus served as the inspiration for the build. ’79 was the year Schwab made major investments in technology and innovation, both of which are now cornerstones of the firm’s continued success.
This is not the first Champion’s Prize Pure Vision has produced – the 1973 Dodge Challenger he built for the 2019 Challenge wore the same gorgeous blue paint. This time around, instead of a Mopar, Steve was working with the GM F-body, so it makes sense that he hooked it up with one of the most beloved modern performance powerplants offered by the General – the venerable LS3 crate engine. The 376ci V8 produces more than 430hp and 425 lb-ft of twist – that’s more than enough to light up the tires on the winner’s new screaming chicken.
But what would a soaring phoenix be without some serious brakes to slow it down? For that, Strope outfit the bird with a set of big Baer brakes featuring massive 13-inch rotors. To round out the modern theme, the Trans Am has been outfitted with late-model Porsche Panamera seats, Dakota Digital gauges, and a monster Kicker sound system.
As if the custom Trans Am with Pure Vision pedigree wasn’t already special enough, the car has recently acquired a bit of celebrity cache as it was used heavily in the shooting of Jake Owen’s latest music video. Coincidentally, the music video also happens to be for a cover of none other than the famous Jerry Reed tune, East Bound And Down,” popularized by the cult classic movie, Smokey and the Bandit.
The video kicks things off with a cameo from our friend Steve Strope jokingly telling Owen to keep it safe as he transports the Schwab Firebird over to Colonial Country Club and, of course, “don’t scratch it.”
Over the course of the next three-minutes, viewers see Jake and the Pure Vision-built Trans Am change clothes figuratively and literally. Jake starts out looking like his normal self and by the end, he’s wearing a ten gallon cowboy hat replete with the bright red unbuttoned shirt made so famous by the late Burt Reynolds, while the iconic Schwab-blue Pontiac is swapped for the even more notorious black and gold Bandit car, replete with screaming chicken hood treatment.
Not to be outdone by his feature film predecessor, Owen takes, who we can only assume is Buford T. Justice, on a wild chase through backroads and dirt trails. While we don’t see the original Buford T. Justice Pontiac Lemans, we do get plenty of Mopar action in the form of a couple four-door 1975 Plymouth Fury that gets dusted and left on the side of the road with its hood up – a place we’ve seen them many times before. Apparently that 455ci HO Pontiac is just too tough to hang with.
Beyond the vehicular action, a great part about this homage to one of the greatest car films of all time are the little things, like the 8-track cassette call out to the late Jerry Reed. If you’re going to cover one of the most iconic driving songs, it seems only fitting to give credit where due. As fans of the movie, Snowman, and Jerry Reed’s body of work, we greatly appreciated the nod…
Not to mention, Owen does a fantastic job covering the twangy tune, because, let’s not forget this is a music video, after all. As a matter of fact, we might go crack open a tall can of Coors Banquet and watch the Bandit do his thing in front of ol’ Snowman right now…
Finally, we see the two Trans Am’s link up side-by-side and realize that the original Bandit was likely “blocking” for our music video hero, Owen and the Schwab Firebird. As Owen speeds off into the sunset, we hear the roar of the Schwab Bird’s exhaust and he sings, “just put the hammer down and give it hell!” A fitting end to the chase indeed.
As Owen pulls into the country club parking lot we see one last tip of the hat to the original Bandit. He flashes the iconic peace sign and gives a mischievous smirk farewell, and we’re left with the question…Who will win the Schwab Bandit?