LIVERMORE -- Call the sheriff! There's a mustache-toting, muscle-car-era joyfest of classics about to collide on July 11, when the East Bay Firebirds Club teams up with Vine Cinema Alehouse to screen "Smokey and the Bandit."
The iconic film needs little introduction, but it will get a big one, when Bay Area Trans Am fanatics flaunt their sweet rides in a mini car show before the movie. The Firebirds founder and crew chief, Lisa Dalisa, will likely show up in a 1978, white-exterior-red-interior model, one of six she keeps on her dog breeding "DD Ranch Vizslas" in Tracy.
"I'm just a girl who likes cars," she says. "If I'm posing next to my cars, guys think I'm a hood ornament. Once I start talking, they realize, yeah, she's a car person."
Boy, is she. Dalisa has a rare, 1985 Auto Form model she compares to the cars in the "Night Rider" series. And a 1971 Pontiac Firebird Esprit model she's cloning to be a Formula.
She says her boyfriend has learned to dread the words, "What are you doing after work today?" Usually, the follow-up involves hitching up a trailer and driving all night to pick up a fine engine with a cancerous body (a car with metal rust) or a beautiful shell (a pristine exterior) with a seized-up engine.
"It's a quest, not a search," she said.
Dalisa bought her first Trans Am at the age of 18. Because she says Trans Am's are a dying breed, she formed the club for companionship and car parts. The Firebirds Club has 30 local members, who meet at coffee shops to share stories and swap repair advice. On special occasions, they visit salvage yards to eat doughnuts and look at wrecked cars. "I'm a roller derby junkie, too," she confesses. A Facebook page Dalisa runs at her company, "Mama Mia Baby Bella," has 70 members from the broader Bay Area and reveals her "other" side. When she's not chasing after Hungarian sporting dogs or racing through the Tri-Valley in her Trans Am ("We only drive 55," she promises, sounding both righteous and good-natured), Dalisa sews.
"Yeah, I have a toddler clothing line I started in 2001," she says, then, as if aware this could dent her muscle car machismo, she adds, "I also sell high-tech license plate recognition systems."
But she needn't worry about appearing to have divided loyalties. Asked what she'd drive, if not a TA, she's stymied. Finally, she says, "It would have to be a big, lifted-up Chevy 4-by-4."
After the pre-movie car show on Livermore's First Street, outside the Vine Cinema, Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason and Jerry Reed will bootleg Trans Am lovers back to 1977 with the "Smokey" movie.
"Trigger," the movie's black Pontiac Trans Am, immediately sent the model's manufacturing numbers from a measly 45 (before the film's release) to 200,000, according to Dalisa and historical accounts.
"It's the screaming chicken on the hood that puts the car in a completely different genre," she says. The movie went on to earn 1977's fourth-highest box office gross and put the "Bandit" (Reynolds) firmly in the driver's seat as a top-tier movie star. Unless you own six Trans Am's -- for Dalisa, it's all about the ride.
What: East Bay Firebirds Club and the Vine Cinema & Alehouse present classic movie night with a special screening of "Smokey and the Bandit."
When: 7 p.m. July 11
Where: Vine Cinema & Alehouse 1722 First Street, Livermore
Tickets/RSVP: $7.50 and available at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Lisa Dalisa at 925-518-2608 or the Vine at 925-447-2545.