Car Culture

Burt Reynolds, film icon and world's greatest Pontiac Trans-Am driver, is dead at 82

He helped inspire a generation of car enthusiasts, and he'll be missed.

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Burt Reynolds died today at the age of 82, and for many, car enthusiasts in particular, his passing represents more than the end of a career or a legend. It's the end of an era.

Reynolds' swagger, smile and that damned mustache positioned him as this sleazy but decidedly awesome uncle who only showed up once or twice a year in a cloud of tire and unfiltered cigarette smoke. He was approachable, but somehow still cooler than any of us could hope to be. Leading men like Reynolds just don't exist anymore.

A large part of his appeal, particularly in the films he did with Hal Needham, was the sheer amount of fun he appeared to be having at all times. His smiles -- and there were a lot of them -- always read as genuine, and that made it easy for us to put ourselves in his cowboy boots and imagine outrunning Smokey with Sally Field in the passenger seat, V8 roaring and tires squealing.

Despite a rough few decades, a few failed comebacks and some seriously questionable role refusals, Burt Reynolds remained someone that we loved and admired and ultimately, came to respect for his abilities as an actor.

It's unlikely that we'll see someone of Burt's like again, and to celebrate the man I think it's high time we got together with our car friends and binge-watched his movies. Yes, even Gator.