Daniel Karen

“Get the black one like the Bandit, Daddy!”

This car has been in the family ever since my father-in-law was so easily convinced by his daughter, to “get the black one, like the Bandit.” He drove it off the showroom floor and held onto the car for 22 years, until he gave it to his daughter (now my wife) in 2001. Ironically, it was my favorite car as well, as a kid in the late 70’s. My wife and I MUST have been destined to meet, seeing as we both loved the same car when we were younger. It would take another 15 years and at least one move across the United States to make all that happen…

I met my wife at a Thanksgiving dinner in 1995 in South Carolina. We became friends, and during the next several months, we grew closer together, and eventually starting dating. It was during that time that she told me of her father’s 1979 Trans Am and how she used to drive it and how much she loved it. She even told me about the time that her father put oversize tires on the rear wheels and proceeded to tear the engine off the motor mounts. At the time, I had no clue what she was really talking about.

It was several years later, after we lived briefly in Virginia and then moved to Los Angeles, did we take a short trip to visit her father in Oregon. I distinctly remember pulling into his garage, after he picked us up at the airport, and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. “Holy #@!$! You NEVER told me he had THAT Trans Am!” I suddenly remembered playing with my Tyco electric racing cars when I was 8 or 9, and always picking the black trans am – and here it was in front of me! Here was one in pristine condition, with eighty-something thousand original miles, and the original owner. I was speechless when he said “Here are the keys. Let’s go for a ride.”

A few years after that, I was once again completely floored when my father-in-law drove the car to us in California, and gave us the title and keys.

Unfortunately, two years later, my beloved childhood icon was in an accident. The entire right side of the car was badly damaged…I have been lovingly restoring it ever since. The shaker panel still sits at a funny angle, though…

Daniel Karen

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