TEXARKANA, Texas — When you pair a car dealership owner and a painter who both fondly recall "Smokey and the Bandit," the result is a truck mural that duplicates a stagecoach scene depicted on a truck driven by Cledus "Snowman" Snow in the movie.
David Stone, who owns Stone Motors on New Boston Road, enlisted the help of Northeast Texas muralist David Freeman to paint the scenery seen on Snowman's "Smokey and the Bandit" truck, which hauled that infamous load of illegal Coors beer, all 400 cases, from Texarkana to Atlanta, Georgia.
The movie is the stuff of Texarkana legend, with Burt Reynolds playing the black Trans Am-driving Bandit, Jerry Reed as Snowman and Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Buford T. Justice, who's in pursuit of the Coors-hauling heroes.
Freeman worked tirelessly for two weeks to paint the mural on Stone's one-ton, GMC truck, which can haul cars. In addition to the scene, the back of the truck has stacked, vintage-looking cases of Coors painted on it, presenting an additional link to the movie and its lore.
Stone intends to sell the truck, along with his own black Trans Am that looks like the famous muscle car from the movie, at auction.
"So it was interesting that unique art project such as this had presented itself," Freeman said. He enjoys both creating art and the craft of filmmaking, so he thought it would be fun. The truck, as he planned it, would be painted in a dark coffee color and striped like the "Smokey and the Bandit" truck with the Old West scene included on both sides.
Freeman's essentially finished with his part of the job, although some body work remains on Stone's 1979, 20-foot long hauler, he explained. "It was one of those things that just instantly kind of went back to when I was a kid, I remember seeing that movie," the artist said. He remembers the movie's cars, chase scenes and the look of that diesel.
"It just wasn't something you see at the time," Freeman said, noting this was before wraps and other graphics were made for cars. "This was something I thought about before that it would be cool if I ever did it, and here it is."
In Stone, he had a car collector and enthusiast who's sold cars here for decades. Stone gave him two weeks to do the job, and Freeman was able to get it done.
"It's been sealed, and I'll do a final sealer, which is the finished product, basically get it back to him because the whole entire body will then go to the body shop and get prepped and sanded, and they're going to get it painted to look like that diesel," said Freeman, who has done a few trailers before, prepping and priming first, but nothing on this grander scale.
Once prepped, it's like any mural job, the artist said. "From that point on, it's the base coat and then painting it just like a mural," Freeman said. They wanted something to last a long time, so Freeman chose a water-based, high-grade clear coat with enamel and acrylic mural paint, then an automotive sealer comparable to an automotive clear.
The Coors boxes were a welcome, fun design challenge to work into it all — "how to make it look like they're stacked, and you know how boxes will look if they're stacked, not perfect."
Freeman worked on the project in his shop.
"If you're familiar with the movie, that's what the theme of the movie was about. They were hauling Coors beer from Texarkana, Texas, to Georgia. It was illegal at that time. Only certain places sold Coors beer back in those days," said Stone.
About the style Freeman went for according to Stone's wishes, Freeman said, "He wanted it loose, painterly," he said. There's a vague, impressionistic feel, not exactly realistic. "It's basically just for the fun of it," Freeman said, noting a comedic element to the scene. There's even a jackrabbit to the side of the stagecoach, parked next to a cactus.
"That's kind of the comedy of it when you look at it, it's a funny picture, too. That kind of ties into the fact that it's a comedy movie," Freeman said. He's a film fan, so that was another attractive aspect to the paint job.
Freeman had previously done mural work on one of Stone's buildings, so the dealership owner was familiar with the artist's work.
"I think it looks good, and the reason I'm doing it is of course I sell cars. I'm going to take the truck and I've got a black Trans Am. I'm going to take them to a Mecum auction in Houston in April, so of course I'll just kind of play around with it until then," Stone said.
With a dovetail on it, the truck can haul race cars. With the truck, he aims to have the cab painted to match the movie truck as best as he can. Count him as a "Smokey and the Bandit" fan.
"And there's a big following for that stuff, and the black Trans Ams are real popular," said Stone, who's sold cars here since 1985. The Trans Am, of course, attracts attentive eyes here.
"You always get a lot of questions and stuff when you drive a car like that around," Stone said.