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    Check out this video: Builder’s Kenworth truck passion project fueled by ‘Smokey and the Bandit’

    An Auckland Builder’s Epic Tribute to “Smokey and the Bandit”

    Picture this: a Kenworth truck, gleaming in black and gold, reminiscent of the iconic vehicle from the movie “Smokey and the Bandit.” This childhood dream turned reality was achieved by Charlie Bailey, a 45-year-old builder from Auckland, New Zealand. Bailey’s passion for the film and his father’s influence as a truck driver inspired him to recreate the Kenworth truck, originally made famous in the American movie starring Burt Reynolds.

    Bailey searched far and wide for the perfect Kenworth truck, but it seemed that in New Zealand, owners never sold their prized possessions. However, after an extensive search, he finally found the ideal truck in Melbourne. Negotiations weren’t easy, as the seller initially had reservations about letting it leave Australia. But Bailey’s determination paid off, and he secured the sale.

    Once the truck arrived in New Zealand, Bailey faced a decision: should he stick with the “Smokey and the Bandit” theme or create a unique custom truck? Ultimately, he chose “The Bandit” theme, aiming to recreate the truck as closely as possible to its appearance in the movie while adding his own personal touch.

    The transformation process was no easy feat. Bailey enlisted the help of professionals, put in long hours himself, and managed to complete the project in just five months. The truck underwent a full panel and paint makeover, chassis work, the addition of 10 stud rims, new stacks, and extra lights. Bailey’s attention to detail paid off, as the truck now closely resembles its on-screen counterpart.

    But “The Bandit” wasn’t complete without the iconic Pontiac Trans Am Firebird. Bailey secured a mint-condition Firebird and even created a wooden crate for the back of the truck, mirroring the one used to carry bootlegged beer in the movie. However, instead of alcohol, the crate opens up to reveal bar leaners, perfect for creating a pop-up bar at car shows and events.

    The entire setup, including the truck, the trailer, and the Pontiac Firebird, cost Bailey upwards of $300,000. He justifies the expense by comparing it to the value of the muscle cars he usually owns, which can cost around $120,000 each. Additionally, Bailey believes the truck could serve a practical purpose by transporting heavy machinery or other toys to various shows and events around the country.

    Bailey’s dedication to his project caught the attention of Reuben Durent from Kenworth supplier Southpac Trucks. Durent commended Bailey’s commitment and noted the extensive work he put into the restoration. Bailey’s truck and Pontiac Firebird will be showcased during the Kenworth 100-year celebrations at Mystery Creek on February 3, 2024. The event promises to be a nostalgic gathering of Kenworth enthusiasts, with classic models alongside new ones.

    Durent’s final words perfectly capture the spirit of Bailey’s endeavor: “He’s got a slogan on the back of the truck that says ‘It wasn’t easy but it’s Fa-Kenworth it’ and that’s perfect in this case.” Bailey’s impressive tribute to “Smokey and the Bandit” serves as a testament to his passion, dedication, and love for classic vehicles.

    In conclusion, Bailey’s creation is a blockbuster-worthy big-rig and muscle car combo that pays homage to the timeless film. The gleaming Kenworth truck and Pontiac Firebird capture the essence of “Smokey and the Bandit” and are sure to turn heads wherever they go.

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