Jamie Lee

I have always loved cars of all kinds when I was growing up.  I had tons of Hot Wheels, race sets, slot cars,  and plastic models that I meticulously put together which filled my tiny room but my fascination with Trans Am's started when I was only 4 years old in 1977.  I remember seeing the commercial trailer for Smokey and the Bandit and I thought,  “Wow what  a neat car that is with all the fancy stripes and a huge bird on the hood of the car”.  After I saw the car on television I knew I was hooked for life and I begged my parents to see the movie and I even did extra chores around the house just to get on their good side!! 

Yeah I had the fever pretty bad even though I was only 4 and I couldn’t wait to hit 16 which seemed to take forever when you’re in kindergarten!  After I saw the movie I remember thinking that it would be cool to someday own a Bandit car maybe when I turn 16 and sometimes I would see Trans Am's around town sporting that cool bird on the hood and my head did double and triple look backs as I walked by them.  But Smokey and The Bandit wasn’t the only influence that I had for car fever.  I also became influenced by The Dukes of Hazzard’s General Lee and the 80s show Knight Rider which I also loved.  Yeah I know it was kinda cheesy to see a talking car that could do just about anything and be virtually indestructible but it kept me glued to my seat every Monday night.

When I was 14 I got my motorcycle license because I had heard that in my state that if you take the written exam for a cycle license you won’t have to take it again to get your driver’s license when you turn 16 so all you have to do is take the driving part.  For those 2 years I drove my Honda 250 Rebel back and forth to school which was pretty cool in itself.  My dad owned a convenience store in town so went in there every week to look at the Auto Trader magazines on the rack which is a teenage boy’s dream.  I remember spending hours flipping through those pages as if it were a Playboy magazine! 

To make a long story short, I didn’t get a Trans Am when I hit 16 in 1989 because they were too expensive.  Instead, I bought a 1971 Chevelle for $1800.00 which I still have today.  It was no TA but I still wanted one really bad.  Time went on through high school and college and then after I settled in my job that I have now I started looking again for my Bandit car because my feelings for it were still very strong.   As you can imagine, finding a decent SE Trans Am is not easy but I was determined to find one.  I came across a 1979 Trans am in Georgia though not an SE 3 years ago from a collector who didn’t own a car newer than that one.  Reluctantly, I decided to buy it thinking I would never find an SE but hey it’s a Trans am right?  I have it on my website at http://home.bellsouth.net/p/s/community.dll?ep=16&ext=1&groupid=149016&ck=

But still not a Bandit I know.   More time went on and I enjoyed my white 79 TA at the local cruise ins but still thinking about the black SE was almost an obsession because of its elusiveness.  Finally after endless searching on Autotrader.com and others, I found what I was looking for in Ebay of all places. When I first saw the car on Ebay, I wasn’t sure if it really was an SE because as most of you know, ANY Trans Am can be made into an SE but without the proper documentation or build sheet nobody can be sure. 

The guy selling the car had a fixed price of $7000.00  which I knew he wouldn’t get so I waited for the auction to end and decided to email him to set up a time to go see it.  Since the car was in Tennessee and I was in Alabama, it was a short drive to determine if it really was a genuine SE.  I had a friend to go with me to help determine its authenticity because the car had the familiar SE gold accents and stripes.  When we got there, we quickly looked for the build sheet which is located in the back seat of most of the SE’s but nothing was back there.  Since it was a California car, the cowl tag was a no go either since the Norwood cars actually had the Y84 code stamped on their cowls.  The only thing left to do we thought is to copy the VIN and call PHS to verify the car.

 I told the guy I would let him know in a few days if I wanted the car.  I actually faxed the info to PHS the following Monday at work and waited about 2 days to get a fax-back.  By now I was a complete wreck about its authenticity and it was on my mind all day long.   I got a call from the lady at the front desk at work that I received a fax.  As I walked up the hall my nerves were shaking and I was sweating like a dog in heat because I knew this was what I was waiting for.  I grabbed the fax from the machine and my eyes went into my head when I saw that precious Y84 code listed in the invoice.  I didn’t have to look far to find it because PHS had already highlighted it for me!!!  After 26 years of first watching Smokey and the Bandit, the search for my boyhood dream car was now officially over!!  I quickly called the guy to tell him I wanted to buy the car so that following weekend I bought the car but not for $7000.00 but for an incredible $4000.00 because the interior was in rough shape but the paint and body looked decent.

Since I have owned it, I have totally redone the interior and new paint and stripes will be added sometime next year.  So now, I have 2 Trans Am's because it just didn’t seem right to sell the white TA!

Jamie Lee

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