Florida Restoration Shop Owner Talks Quietly Buying Cars from Famous TV Shows

by Courtney Blackann

A man who fell in love with both film and classic cars found a way to intersect the two. Florida resident Gene Kennedy has been buying iconic cars from some of the coolest films and television shows and fixing them up. He then sells them privately or auction. And he was influenced by attending “Smokey and the Bandit” in 1977 when he was 9-years-old.

Upon seeing the black and gold Pontiac Trans Am driven by the bandit himself, Burt Reynolds, Kennedy was hooked on classic cars. Thirty-five years later, Kennedy actually met and befriended the “Smokey and the Bandit” actor at a car show in Palmetto. But his passion for finding and restoring Hollywood cars keeps him going, Yahoo! reports.

Kennedy even tracked down that 1977 Pontiac, which was used to promote the film in 2016. After acquiring it, he sold it at auction for a whopping $550,000. Since that time, Kennedy has collected more than a dozen classic cars used in Hollywood, founding Bandit Movie Cars.

Kennedy’s Classic Car Collection

And his collection includes a white 1977 Lincoln Continental owned by Elvis Pressley as well as one of the sweet 1969 orange Dodge Chargers used by “The Dukes of Hazzard.” He even owns the “Blues Brothers” 1974 Dodge Monaco and a rebuild of the RV used by Cousin Eddie in “Christmas Vacation.”

“These movie cars get lost in history,” Kennedy said. “When Hollywood generally gets done with a movie, they will dispose of the cars for liability reasons … so more often than not, Hollywood would destroy the car. It’s unfortunate because some of those would be really iconic to be in a museum. Some of these cars have a lot of value.”

Inspired by the action stars and their amped up cars in Hollywood films, people all over were inspired to buy the cars their onscreen heroes drove. In fact, the sale of Trans Ams bumped up by 600% after “Smokey and the Bandit” was released, Reynolds once said.

And Kennedy was also inspired. The first car he drove was a 1978 Trans Am that he fixed up and rebuilt. His love of working on cars never left him.

Since his Bandit Movie Cars was founded, Kennedy also found friendship with Reynolds. He helps Kennedy scour the country for the original cars used in movies. And Kennedy’s love of nostalgia keeps his business thriving.

“People want to have that moment where they see something of [Reynolds],” Kennedy said. “It’s not just a Trans Am. Burt said he was happy to be in the movie, but the star was the car. That car had a personality of its own.”

That saying about loving what you do means never working a day in your life pretty much applies to Kennedy and his business. And we don’t see him quitting anytime soon.