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Truck from Movie Duel

Duel was a made for television movie that originally aired in 1971, then remade for theatrical release. The movie starred Dennis Weaver as a motorist on a business trip that was being terrorized by a murderous tanker truck on a desolate stretch of road in California. The movie was directed by Steven Spielberg and was based on a short story written by Richard Matheson. Dennis Weaver drove a Plymouth Valiant and the truck from the movie Duel was a 1955 Peterbilt 281 driven by Carey Loftin.

The Duel Truck:  Peterbilt 281

The truck was carefully chosen. Spielberg went to the length of “auditioning” trucks for the role. He was not happy with the look of the flat-nosed cab-overs of the day, so a “needlenose” was chosen. He picked the 1955 Peterbilt because of its long hood, split windshield, and round headlights. He felt that these features gave the truck a “face,” making it more sinister. If you look closely, the truck had multiple license plates. Spielberg added this quirk to suggest that the truck was a serial killer who had “run down other drivers in other states.” The truck was given careful “make-up” so that it would look sooty and grimy, further increasing its sinister appearance. The face of the driver was never shown to add to the feeling that the truck itself was a murderer, not the person.

The filmmakers only had one truck during production of the original film, so the scene of the truck falling off the cliff at the end had to be done in a single shot. When the movie was released in theaters, additional trucks were purchased to shoot the extra footage that was added, but these were 1960 Peterbilt 281’s. One of these trucks is still in existence in a private collection today. To find out more about who owns the Duel truck today, check out this article in 10-4 Magazine.

Below is a video made my one of the previous owners:

The Duel Car: Plymouth Valiant

Weaver drives a red Plymouth Valiant throughout the film. Three cars were used during filming: a 1970 model with a 318 V-8 engine and a 1971 model with a 225 Slant Six were used for the original movie, but a 1972 model with a 225 Slant Six was added for the theatrically released version. Spielberg insisted on the color of the car so that it would stand out against the desert backdrop.

Lately the movie had been airing on late-night TV, often on the channel El Rey.


About the author: Jerry Coffey


Jerry Coffey is the financial expert here at A recovered "debtaholic," he now preaches frugal-living and sound money management here and at, where he is the chief contributor. He works for a major automaker.


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