The 1973 movie White Lightening starred Burt Reynolds and a ton of cars. The list includes a 1971 Mercury Monterey, 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu, 1963 Mercury Comet, 1962 Ford Fairlane, 1962 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88, 1972 Ford LTD, but the star–Burt Reynolds at his peak of awesomeness–mainly drove a 1971 Ford Galaxie Custom 500.
1971 Ford Galaxie Custom 500
Ford introduced the Galaxie nameplate in 1959. The name was meant to allow Ford to take advantage of the Space Race. Initially there were six models in the group, all of which were upscale versions of the Ford Fairlane. The nameplate ran through the 1974 model year, with the Custom 500 simply denoting a slightly higher trim package than the base models.
In 1969, the Galaxie underwent a remodeling that lasted through the end of production. Some of the changes included a new 121-inch wheelbase and the demise of the optional 427 and 428 cu.in. engines. Replacing these engines was the 429 cu. in. ”ThunderJet” used in the Thunderbird. The new Thunderjet produced 360 hp in its dual exhaust four-barrel setup. The single exhaust, two-barrel setup produced 320 hp. In addition to the engine and wheelbase changes, the dashboard was built as a pod around the driver, the XL and Galaxie 500 Sportsroof had rear sail panels, giving them a fastback roof line. In 1971, the Galaxie 500 was slightly updated to include a horizontal wrap around front bumper with a massive vertical center section, the taillights were changed from the ”rocket exhaust” design to a purely horizontal light cover. Additionally, the roof lines were squared off so that the entire car would have a more formal and refined appearance.
The car that Burt Reynolds spent the most time behind the wheel of was a brown 1971 Custom 500 four-door sedan with a blue interior. The car was outfitted with a 429 Police Interceptor/Cobra Jet engine and a custom exhaust. It was sitting on black steel wheels with Wide Runner Polyglas tires produced by Cooper Tire. Burt is often seen shifting the car, then getting out of what is supposed to be the same car after putting it in Park on the steering column. If the editor had been a bit more observant there would not have been scenes of Burt driving a manual transmission then getting out of an automatic.
Interested in more on the old bootlegging/moonshining cars? Check out our previous post on the subject.
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