VOICES — 'What Smokey and the Bandit Tells Us About Today'

Updated: Oct 19

(Editor’s Note — 1120 Press is thrilled to present this intriguing piece by the always-interesting Dan Hawrylczak — who in analyzing the legendary Burt Reynold’s comedy ‘Smokey and the Bandit,' cuts through the mainstream media’s white noise to illustrate just how well we have it in today’s America. A resident of Lackawanna NY, Hawrlyczak is an Argentine Tango dancer, barbershop quartet singer and collector of grand player pianos — so, this sort of unique take from Dan is hardly surprising. We’re excited to bring it to you.)


Despite what those in the media would have you believe, almost everything in the world is improving at a significant rate — and much of this can be demonstrated simply by looking at the 1977 road-action comedy Smokey and the Bandit.


The premise of the film is that Bandit and Cledus — played by Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed, respectively — accept a bet that they can go from Atlanta to Texarkana and back and bring back 400 cases of Coors for Big Enos in 28 hours.


The prize? Eighty thousand dollars — the price, at the time, of a new Kenworth W900.


That $80,000 prize in 2021 dollars would be equivalent to $358,039, according to savings.org.

The same make and model truck, a 2021 Kenworth W900, would cost $181,500.


So, Cledus and Bandit would, at the end of their adventure, have an additional $176,539 for their troubles. And, if they worked a good deal with the salesman, could probably have ended up with two brand new rigs instead of just one.


But wait, there’s more!


In 1980, the New York Times, the “Newspaper of Record,” indicated that a gallon of diesel cost $1.10. In today’s dollars, thanks to savings.org, we come up with an equivalent of $3.65. Today’s current average, according to the AAA, is $3.32/gallon. That’s quite a savings over the 1,800 miles in the film. Although, it is unclear if the boys are footing that bill or Big Enos.


Then, there’s the fact that our heroes seem to have chosen the route by memory. While they had access, perhaps, to a good old Rand-McNally, one has to question whether they actually chose the best route or not.


In today’s world, if that $180k rig can’t give you the answer as to the best route, your Waze app-equipped smartphone can not only tell you the best route, but also will add in the locations of all those Smokies hiding along the way thanks to all of the wonderful people traveling on the road who are crowd sourcing the information. The Bandit can park that beautiful Trans-Am and ride with Cledus in the truck. Or, better yet, he can leave Cledus out of the whole caper and keep all the money for himself.


Then, there’s the fact that a 2022 Kenworth W900 is significantly more fuel efficient than its 1977 counterpart. Lower fuel burn decreases not only the cost of the trip, but also reduces the amount of time spent fueling the rig.


It’s a win-win.


As my great-grandmother, Della Lagoe-Moran-Mullen said: “People talk about the good old days, there were no good old days…the good old days are today.”


Special thanks to Prime for showing the film this month, to my parents for introducing my son to

the movie, and to my son for now insisting on watching Smokey and the Bandit at least two more times.


Oh, and, given that Coors is now available nationwide, you can go to the local store and get yourself a case for less than $30, thereby eliminating the need for all of that chasing around and requiring a whole new MacGuffin for the movie.