Film’s Greatest Trucks & Truckers
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Seeing trucks on the road is a daily occurrence for most, but it’s a rare occasion when trucks and truckers are in the spotlight at the movies. We at Bolt love when these princes and princesses of pavement and their big rigs get their time to shine. Here’s a list of our favorite trucks and truckers on the silver screen.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, and Jerry Reed star in an action comedy about bootlegging 400 cases of Coors beer (about 2 pallets worth) across the Mississippi river to Georgia. The movie, which is full of hijinks, high-speed chases, and hilarity, easily became the second-highest grossing domestic film of 1977 and inspired two sequels. The film featured three Kenworth W900A short-frame semi trucks, which Jerry Reed can be seen driving, each equipped with 38-inch sleepers.
This award-winning film is considered one of the best TV movies ever made and is also famous for being the directing debut of director, producer, and screenwriter Steven Spielberg. Dennis Weaver plays a terrified motorist stalked through the Mojave desert by a 1960 Peterbilt 351 tanker truck with an unseen driver. This film creatively portrays the truck as the villian and plays upon the fear of the unknown, which Spielberg considers to be the greatest fear of all. Disclaimer: we promise Bolt trucks aren’t villainous.
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Tim Burton debuts as a director with this film about an eccentric man-child named Pee-wee (Paul Reubens) who embarks on a wild adventure to recover his stolen bicycle. On his journey he hitches a ride in a Ford CL-9000 with a trucker named Large Marge (Alice Nunn). She scares him with a story about the worst road accident she’s ever seen, resulting in his early exit. Though her appearance is brief, this is one of the most well-known portrayals of a female trucker in American film.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Years after civilization collapses, the tyrant Immortan Joe enslaves survivors inside the desert fortress the Citadel. The warrior Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) lead the despot’s five wives in a daring escape. While fortified in the “War Rig,” a massive armored truck, they try to outrun Immortan Joe and his henchmen in a deadly high-speed chase through the Wasteland. The “War Rig” is a 78-foot 18-wheeler based on a Tatra T815, an all-wheel drive truck manufactured in Czech Republic.
Breaker! Breaker! (1977)
Who needs to roundhouse kick when you can settle the score with an 18-wheeler? Chuck Norris plays vigilante trucker Billy Dawes looking for redemption after his brother was assaulted and paralyzed. This movie’s name comes from trucker slang: “breaker breaker” is a phrase used when truck drivers interrupt a conversation over the CB radio. Though this movie did poorly at the box office, it was a hit with Norris’ father who regarded it as the favorite film his son starred in. The main truck driven by Norris in this film was a 1973 Kenworth K-100.
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The “Cars” trilogy focuses on the adventures of a personified racecar named Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), but our favorite character is Mack (John Ratzenberger), a 1980s-era Super-Liner truck who is responsible for transporting Lightning to his races. Like all good trucks, Mack is a strong part of the team and even offers to help out as a member of the pit crew. Fun fact: Mack’s wind deflector on his roof resembles a traditional trucker cap and his hood ornament is a bulldog (though dogs have not been seen to exist in the Cars universe).
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
John Carpenter’s fantasy martial arts comedy film starring Kurt Russell has become a cult classic after flopping at the box office but maintaining steady viewership in homes and theaters decades after its release. Russell plays a cocky rough-and-tumble truck driver named Jack Burton who fights a magical Chinese street gang with his Freightliner FLC 120. This film is a must-watch for anyone seeking kung-fu with a twist!
Over the Top (1987)
Struggling trucker Lincoln Hawk (Sylvester Stallone) arm wrestles for extra cash to rebuild his life from a broken marriage. He is determined to win back his son and triumph at the world arm wrestling championships. Hawk drives a 1965 Autocar A64 B in this film, which he eventually sells to place a 20:1 long-shot bet on himself to win the competition. Both critics and audiences gave this movie an average rating, though with Stallone, arm wrestling, and trucks, how can you go wrong?
Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw play trucker Martin “Rubber Duck” Penwald and his travel companion and love interest Melissa in an action-packed film about rebel truckers getting their revenge on the abusive Sheriff “Dirty Lyle” Wallace (Ernest Borgnine). The movie is based on the 1975 country western song “Convoy” by C. W. McCall and Chip Davis, and after release screenwriter B.W.L. Norton wrote a novel based on the film. Rubber Duck’s truck is generally represented in the film as a 1977 Mack RS712LST although several other Mack RS700L series trucks were used as well. The trucks used in the movie are now on display at the Museum of Transportation outside St. Louis, Missouri.
Robots from outer space are coming to destroy humanity. Other robots from outer space are coming to save us. Oh, and they’re disguised as cars, trucks, planes, and tanks. This media franchise created by Hasbro was first a toy line that quickly spawned into a comic book series and an animated TV series, all in 1984. It continued gaining popularity and eventually became a series of feature films (2007–2018) directed by Michael Bay and produced by Steven Spielberg. Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots and determined to protect humanity from the evil Decepticons. Our alien hero has various modes and can transform into a Freightliner FL86 semi-truck, a 1973 Marmon semi cab-over truck, a Western Star 5700 Custom semi-truck, a Mid-90s Peterbilt 4964EX Tanker Truck, a Lamborghini Diablo, a dump truck, a fire truck, and more.
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