When the smash hit Smokey and the Bandit debuted in U.S. theaters in 1977 starring Burt Reynolds as Bo “Bandit” Darville, one of the popular movie’s co-stars—a classic black and gold 1977 Pontiac Trans Am—became an instantaneous icon of American muscle cars.
Fast forward to 2006. A similar 1977 Pontiac Trans Am in need of restoration served as the inspiration for what is now known as The Bandit Run, co-created by the car’s owner and Dave Hall, owner/operator of Restore a Muscle Car, LLC in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Hall and his team of technicians specialize in bringing back to life classic Pontiac Trans Ams and GTOs, Chevrolet Camaros, Ford Mustangs, Dodge Chargers and other American muscle cars that have seen better days.
The Bandit Run is an annual multi-day road trip held each spring that retraces the journey that Reynolds and Cledus “Snowman” Snow (Jerry Reed) made in the movie between Texarkana and Atlanta, Georgia. First held in 2007 to commemorate Smokey and the Bandit’s 30th anniversary, The Bandit Run started out with 30 muscle cars; by the time it reached Atlanta, more than 100 Trans Ams and other cars had joined in. The event received considerable local and national media attention along the way and still continues to grow in size and popularity.
“With EPIC’s fans, as long as we can see the fan in motion, we can feel the air moving.”
– Dave Hall, Owner/Operator, Restore a Muscle Car, LLC, Lincoln, Nebraska
Technician comfort vital
Hall, who started Restore a Muscle Car in 2005 with his wife Michelle along with their 20 restoration technicians, are proud of their achievements during the past decade-plus.
As the business has expanded over the years, so too did the need to effectively and efficiently keep staff comfortable year-round. Various parts of the business’ facility do rely on heat pumps for cooling and propane heat to warm air during the colder seasons. However, proper air movement and eliminating excess noise from annoying and often obstructive high-speed fans became a growing challenge.
“For years, we relied on a mix of wall-mounted and floor fans around the shop to keep air moving, and the floor fans especially really ate up a lot of critical space,” Hall pointed out. “Working in often confined spaces, our technicians need as much room as possible in the shop for disassembling and reassembling cars.”
Working inside day in and day out—particularly during the summer months—Hall added that his technicians naturally want to stay as comfortable as possible. “It’s funny now, but our techs would sometimes fight over who got a fan for their work area . . . the first guy to show up for work would typically get a fan, while others wouldn’t be so lucky.”
Realizing a dire need to keep the air in all areas of his facility moving to not only eliminate stagnant air pockets and improve working conditions but help to reduce energy needs, Hall began to explore a viable solution. He started examining a variety of high volume low speed (HVLS) fans on the market.
HVLS fans a key investment
Hall likes to take his time with important business decisions, so he actually looked at several HVLS fans on the market over a few years. He spent a significant amount of time talking to friends and visiting other facilities that were using HVLS fans. “I viewed the fans as an important investment, so we wanted to make sure everything was done right,” Hall emphasized.
Hall added that key requirements for his HVLS fan investment included a good warranty for trouble-free operation, a solid track record of longevity in the business, a high degree of operational efficiency and fans that would produce the desired results regardless of the season. “Not only that, we take a lot of pride in working on American-made cars, so we also prefer to use American-made products at Restore a Muscle Car, which in turn helps keep business right here in the U.S.,” Hall stressed.
“We seriously looked at another major HVLS fan brand on the market and noticed that their fans didn’t circulate air as well as EPIC’s fans when you stepped back a certain distance from the fan,” Hall said. “That same manufacturer even recommended more fans than what we now use. With EPIC’s fans, as long as we can see the fans in motion, we can feel the air moving. What we currently have in place is fulfilling our immediate needs.”
Restore a Muscle Car is currently operating two EPIC HVLS fans: one 18-foot diameter EPIC Colossus™ industrial fan that covers the business’ 12,000 square-foot assembly and disassembly area and a 14-foot diameter EPIC Apex™ commercial fan that has a different look and feel for a smaller 8,000 square-foot section of the facility.
Quiet fans produce quality workmanship
Hall worked closely with Robb Lierman, general manager of IC Energy Solutions, throughout the entire sales and installation process. The fans were installed by a local electrical contractor in July when outside temperatures were topping 100° F, which Hall said was perfect timing. “Once the fans were running, we noticed an immediate difference in the cooling effect inside our facility; the temperature was more consistent, and where we do have air conditioning, it wasn’t running as much,” Hall added.
Each EPIC Fan features black blades along with red winglets (tips). “We picked black for the blades because we wanted the fans to blend into our open ceiling structure and we chose red winglets to remind us when the fans are operating,” Hall explained. He added that the fans are so quiet that it’s easy to forget they’re running and not turn them off when the shop is closing, otherwise they would set off the building’s security system.
Hall said IC Energy Solutions’ recommendations for his fans’ position and placement were “spot on”, although he did have to remove a couple LED light fixtures to keep the fans from causing a strobe effect. Hall pointed out as well that the fans’ quiet operation has an added benefit over noisy high-speed fans.
“If cranked up to a high enough speed, the largest of the two fans will blow the protective covers off our cars and it feels like it’ll lift the roof off our building,” Hall said. “However, at the speed we use, the fans are very quiet which works out great when a tech is working on a car and needs to listen closely for a specific noise or sound in a motor. Loud floor fans have the opposite effect and can drown out certain engine noises if they’re too close by.”
Regarding the fans’ control panels, Hall said he’s found them very easy to use with the Epic Fans digital version used for the Colossus HVLS fan. “We can also set selective access for certain techs only since some might want the fans running at the highest speed which really gets them rockin’, but we don’t need such a powerful amount of air flow at once.”
“The fans are very quiet which works out great when a tech is working on a car and needs to listen closely for a specific noise or sound in a motor.”
– Dave Hall, Owner/Operator, Restore a Muscle Car, LLC, Lincoln, Nebraska
Looking forward to winter
Hall further explained that since his building is so well-insulated, cool nighttime air gets trapped in the facility. The HVLS fans then help to effectively circulate that cool air throughout the work areas as the day progresses even while outside temperatures climb during the summer.
Restore a Muscle Car’s facility also features a climate-controlled paint booth in an area that generates warm pockets of air, so the fan in that part of the structure helps to distribute unevenly heated air.
Hall is looking forward to how his propane usage for heating is going to work out this winter. “We pay in advance to lock in a much lower propane rate for winter based on the projected number of gallons that we expect to use,” he explained. “Two winters ago, we ran out of propane early at our locked in rate due to colder than expected temperatures. We had to purchase more to see us through at a much higher rate which can be double or triple the cost per gallon that we normally spend.
“It would have been nice to have the fans operating then. We expect that running fans in reverse during the winter will make a huge difference as the fans keep air moving down walls of the building and circulate all of the warm air that collects against our high ceilings.”
Hall’s favorite part of his job is seeing cars brought back to life, especially those cars that families and their friends are closely attached to.
“Whether we’re working with an original owner or those people who have cars that have been handed down through their family, seeing the look on our customers’ faces when we unveil their finished car is priceless, especially knowing that they’ll be able to enjoy it once again in all of its former glory,” he said.
With Restore a Muscle Car’s technicians now able to perfect their trade in a much more comfortable working environment throughout the year, they’ll enjoy it even more as they continue to produce the high-quality work that Hall’s classic muscle car restoration business has become so well-known and respected for.