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1955 Peterbilt 281

1955 Peterbilt 281 in Duel, Movie made for TV, 1971 IMDB

Class: Trucks, Trailer truck (tractor) — Model origin: US

1955 Peterbilt 281

Position 00:23:53 [*][*][*][*][*] The vehicle is part of the movie

Comments about this vehicle

AuthorMessage

carfan US

2005-12-23 18:51

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It's a 1960 Peterbilt 355 model (not as in a toy model truck)

-- Last edit: 2005-12-23 18:52:02

antp BE

2005-12-23 18:53

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For what I find on Google images it is not so clear if it is a 351 or a 355 :??:

-- Last edit: 2005-12-23 18:54:46

big Tone US

2006-03-10 00:03

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1960 281

big Tone US

2006-03-10 04:43

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281 with a tag axle

-- Last edit: 2006-03-10 05:18:43

truckface NO

2006-03-28 15:23

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Believe or not, but this truck reappears in the movie "Torque". :hello:

carfan US

2006-04-28 18:55

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It's a peterbilt 355

GENERAL LEE UK

2006-04-30 02:00

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1963 Peterbilt 355 w/ single stack & horn for some reason

Big Tone US

2006-05-01 02:58

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1955 or 1960 Peterbilt 281 http://www.stlouisdumptrucks.com/Duel/DuelPage1.html

-- Last edit: 2006-05-01 03:54:41

firebird86 US

2006-05-01 05:37

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Big Tone wrote 1955 or 1960 Peterbilt 281 http://www.stlouisdumptrucks.com/Duel/DuelPage1.html

The article in your link states that the truck is indeed a 1960 Peterbilt 281, just like the original truck from the movie

trucker US

2006-06-03 21:37

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This one is also a 351!

trucker US

2006-06-09 18:15

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The 281's had single axles and the 351's have double axles. So it's a 1960 Peterbilt 351.

Big Tone US

2006-06-10 14:59

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This is a 281 with tag axle, check the link from my post above.

antp BE

2006-06-10 15:04

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Well, just call it 632 so it includes both (351+281 :D)

-- Last edit: 2006-06-10 15:04:36

Big Tone US

2006-06-10 15:06

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antp wrote Well, just call it 632 so it includes both (351+281 :D)

post it 632 antp

-- Last edit: 2006-06-10 15:07:48

Carfan US

2006-06-27 02:03

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If the people that own one of the origional trucks say it's a 281, then it must be a peterbilt 281! I mean think about it, if you owned the truck you would know all about it.

Skid US

2006-07-02 04:03

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There were actually three trucks used for Duel:

A 1955 Peterbilt 281 was the main picture truck...it was thrown from the cliff at the end and destroyed.

The 1960 281 in the above link was a backup truck. The 1955 had a crapped out engine, so the 1960 was buit as a backup. This 1960 model is the model mentioned in the article above, and there is some debate as to whether or not it was used in the movie (it likely was, just in very brief parts). This very truck appeared in the film "Torque".

A 1964 (I believe this one was actually a 351) was used for the scenes added to the film in 1973...the railroad crossing and the school bus scene. I've heard that it's still sitting in a warehouse at Universal studios in extremely poor condition. It was also used for a 1978 episode of "The Incredible Hulk".

The picture on this site appears to depict the 1955 truck.

nickman912 US

2006-07-03 09:19

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I think its kinda funny how a Universial movie prop wound up in a Warner Brothers production. O hey did anyone notice that a red Plymouth sedan was driectly in front of the truck in the opening scene? ;) Just wondering if anyone else cought that besides me.

Skid US

2006-07-03 10:15

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I dunno where you get it was Warner Brothers: The opening on my VHS and DVD both say "Universal".

EDIT: Unless you're referring to "The Incredible Hulk".

-- Last edit: 2006-07-03 10:17:01

nickman912 US

2006-07-04 07:02

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I saw it on TBS, but then again could have been the end of the previous movie I saw. I dunno, I was tired. I saw the WB logo graphic between them somewhere. But, the kid in the beginning had a Dukes of Hazzard shirt on. Universial didnt make that shaow, WB did.

Edit: It IS a WB production. I foun d the movie site: http://www2.warnerbros.com/torque/index.html

-- Last edit: 2006-07-04 07:10:51

Skid US

2006-07-04 08:19

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Torque? Hell, I thought you meant Duel. Yes, Torque WAS a WB movie.

aussiemuscle308 AU

2006-08-21 07:56

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more pics here of the last surviving truck:
http://www.tenfourmagazine.com/feature/2004/5.html

Q-Ball JP

2007-04-15 21:21

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Who knows where this truck is now?

klint SE

2007-04-27 08:21

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The 60-truck wasn´t used at all. It was just a standby truck far as I know.
The 55 was used in the whole movie except the "extra parts" filmed in ´73: Bus scene and railroad crossing and when David Mann comes out of the gas station after talking to his wife, you can see this truck having the other type of aircleaner.

kw_2010 US

2007-11-13 04:27

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JR mower man wrote Well,Q ball, the 55 was destroyed at the end of the movie in the crash. and the 64 used in the extra scenes is still being stored in universal in poor/ unrestorable condition. where as the 60 pete, the one used throughout most of the movie is the only surving truck that is still running, and driveable. it is currently in the process of being totally restored to it's original movie condition. i believe that this truck is located somewhere down south. :D



Do you think you could help me find a picture of the "unrestorable" truck at Universal?

Q-Ball JP

2007-11-18 17:40

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Was the 281 ever available with quad headlights?

crazybastard CA

2008-03-20 18:08

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JR mower man wrote Well,Q ball, the 55 was destroyed at the end of the movie in the crash. and the 64 used in the extra scenes is still being stored in universal in poor/ unrestorable condition. where as the 60 pete, the one used throughout most of the movie is the only surving truck that is still running, and driveable. it is currently in the process of being totally restored to it's original movie condition. i believe that this truck is located somewhere down south. :D
i believe i know where the truck is its located in kentucky and owned by st loughie dump trucks. its still running today but is in rough shape. (it wouldn't be the duel truck if it wasn't, lol)

crazybastard CA

2008-03-20 18:15

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Q-Ball wrote Was the 281 ever available with quad headlights?
i dont think so the 351 model was but i dont think they started coming out with the quad lights untill the 70s"?"

fairyman AU

2008-06-27 20:11

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The number plates on the front are supposedly from other cars that the truck destroyed

vondur88 CA

2008-11-07 03:45

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1960 Peterbilt 281
Current Engine: Cummins NTC 350 Small Cam Inline 6 cylinder, turbo charged, 350 bhp
Original Engine: Cummins 262, Inline 6 cylinder, turbo charged, 262 bhp
Main Transmission: 5 Speed Spicer

4x4 23

2008-12-24 00:33

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The Truck above is the 1955

4x4 23

2008-12-25 21:59

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Skid wrote There were actually three trucks used for Duel:



A 1964 (I believe this one was actually a 351) I've heard that it's still sitting in a warehouse at Universal studios in extremely poor condition. It was also used for a 1978 episode of "The Incredible Hulk".




Yes, the 64 was a 351 But the 64 Was not in "The Incredible Hulk" the one from the "The Incredible Hulk" was a whole new truck it was another 351 If you look on Dan's web site it tells you there's a 4th truck and on the "DUEL Message board" with Neil who found the 1960 he's Said this is the Truck in a warehouse at Universal Lots the Truck has been Identified as a 1962 Peterbilt 351 on the "DUEL Message board" Neil who has the facts from Universal Lots said that the 64 played as the duel truck in another movie that one also when down a cliff the 64 is long gone it's been parted out and scrapped like the 55


-- Last edit: 2008-12-25 22:02:41

4x4 23

2008-12-25 23:28

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Dan has talken to the original owner of the 55 & the 60 and according to him he said there was 4 trucks in the movie Duel alone he said he sold 3 trucks to and 4 Tankers to Universal Studio's he sold the 55 & 60 to them and there was a 1956 that was also made up the "56" was a 281 too the 55 & 56 were identical twins in the movie and even before the movie always have been nothing was different between the 2 The 1960 had a little long wheel base then the 55 & 56 the boss told Dan "the owner of the 60" that he knows atleast 3 scenes with the 56 was used

In Gas Attendit Scene besides the 1964 being then maybe 5 minutes of the scene it was the 56

In the window & leaving Chuck's Cafe' is another place where the 56 was used

The whole snack with Dennis in the phone booth that scene with Carey Lofin passing by after the turns in the drive way

is another scene with 56 used even after they leave and the truck passes by David Mann after pulling off and hiding from the truck it the 56


Truck History:

the 1955- is the Main truck Was crashed at cliff scene in Duel and was scrapped and parted out in 1979

the 1960- is the 2nd truck we all know the history behind the truck

The 1956- Is the 3rd truck this truck blew up in 1979 in another movie

The 1964- this one was a 351 Is the truck that Was in Rail Road/ Bus Push/ Gas Attendit scenes went down a cliff in 1975 plying as the Duel truck in another movie was scrapped and parted out in 1979

If you call it a 5th truck- is the 1962 351 From the "Incredible Hulk" some people don't count this truck as a 5th truck cause it wasn't in the movie Duel But I do It was a new truck for the new actors

Here's History behind the 5th truck if you count the 5th truck it's the 1962 Peterbilt 351

http://z15.invisionfree.com/Duel/index.php?showtopic=309

The History behind the 55, 64 & 56 after they were crashed

the 55- was brought back up the cliff the next day and went back to the oil company and he put it in a field for parts for some of his other peterbilts and was scrapped and parted out in 1979

the 64- went down the same cliff in 1975 the oil company bought it for parts and and scrapped it the same day as the 55 back in 79

the 56- Blew in 1979 and the oil comapny sold the land in 1989 and the moved the 56 to another land and the oil company had that land until 1996 and then he doesn't what happen to the truck the guy bought the trucks and that land in 1996 the struck might be still in existence

The one above is the 55





-- Last edit: 2008-12-25 23:29:44

chris142 US

2009-01-26 05:26

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crazybastard wrote i dont think so the 351 model was but i dont think they started coming out with the quad lights untill the 70s"?"

They were an option beginning in 1958.

chicomarx BE

2009-02-26 03:17

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[Image: dueltruck1.jpg] [Image: dueltruck2.jpg] [Image: dueltruck3.jpg] [Image: dueltruck4.jpg]

-- Last edit: 2017-11-09 18:53:38

TDK US

2009-03-02 23:09

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truckface wrote Believe or not, but this truck reappears in the movie "Torque". :hello:


Might be the same model truck but at the end of Duel the truck was really crashed off of a mesa. The mesa is at the top of Vasquez Canyon Rd. I can't verify the name of the mesa but I believe it is called Black Mesa.

chicomarx BE

2009-04-10 17:11

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New and improved picture. Identical shot but 640px now (was 512). Couldn't go to 720, height would be 540.

4x4 23

2009-05-03 19:44

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There's no photo's of the 1964 Peterbilt 351 under this Movie Truck is any one can please get some photo's of the 64 Pete from Bus Push & Rail Road Scenes you also see the 64 a little bit in Gas Attendant Scene it was near the end when you saw it

convoyduel US

2009-08-27 08:24

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3 trucks were used for Duel.

Truck 1 (pictured) is a '55. It has only one driving axle, therefore it is a 281. The presence of an unpowered tag axle has no bearing on Peterbilt's model number. I have mistakenly listed it on my website as a '56 based on my bad handwriting from when I bought truck 2 from Neil Losasso in LA in 2005. This '55 went off the cliff (Mystery Mesa) in '71. It started life as a Union Oil tanker.

Truck 2 is the 1960 that I own. I bought it from Neil Losasso who bought if from George Sack. This truck was built up by George Sack at the request of Universal Studios as a standby second unit truck and went back to George Sack's yard after filming. The title history confirms this. This same '60 model 281 was also used in Torque, Chevy Malibu commercials and David Lee Roth's 1994 video "She's My Machine". The truck is in St. Louis now and on display at the Museum of Transportation.

Truck 3 was a '64 used for added scenes in 1973 when the movie was extended for theatrical release.

A fourth truck was used by Universal to make an episode of The Incredible Hulk based on a lot of archived footage from Duel.

Kooshmeister US

2009-09-22 16:36

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Totally random, but, the truck isn't a tractor trailer/semi in Richard Matheson's original short story. Rather, it's an ordinary tanker truck hauling a tanker trailer, so it effectively has two tankloads of gas. Which are full unlike in the movie, so that when the trucker goes off the cliff his vehicle blows up real good.

Also, in the story, the trucker has a name: Keller. A play on words, like the hero's surname Mann. Man vs. Killer.

benfolio US

2009-10-17 18:19

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The 1960 is now for sale: http://www.motoexotica.com/inventory/2544/1960_Peterbilt_Tanker__.htm?pv=a

typhlosion US

2010-04-12 09:07

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HEEEEEY YOOOOOOOU GUUUUUUYS! its a 1960 as this guy now owns it! http://www.bradsclassictrucks.com/DuelPage.htm

M26 Pershing US

2011-09-20 19:26

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The surviving '60 truck was originally another 281 with tag axle, but was recently rebuilt to where both axles are driven, so it's a 351 now. :P (I have a pic on deviantart, but can't get there on school comp.)

93montero

2012-06-16 18:54

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[Image: vlcsnap_2012_02_10_14h10m44s0.jpg] [Image: vlcsnap_2012_02_10_14h41m55s214.jpg]

LencoBearcatGuy US

2014-07-27 16:43

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This is my most favorite tractor-trailer of all time. Its rusty color gives it character.

rberent US

2014-10-15 16:46

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I now have this movie in 1080HD if you want me to post them?

antp BE

2014-10-15 16:52

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The pics are already to the max allowed size for 4:3 pictures
You can post additional pics in comments if you wish, but if you use the site's own image upload they will also be limited like the main picture of this page.

Nightrider RU

2015-01-08 14:30

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[Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-18-49.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-18-59.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-19-19.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-20-30.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-20-38.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-21-05.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-21-13.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-21-31.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-22-12.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-22-52.jpg]

-- Last edit: 2018-06-01 07:42:32 (opal)

Nightrider RU

2015-01-08 14:39

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[Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-32-20.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-32-26.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-32-43.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-33-03.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-33-23.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-33-34.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-33-47.jpg] [Image: duel1971bdrip1080p16-33-56.jpg]

-- Last edit: 2018-06-01 07:43:04 (opal)

8ed5 FI

2015-07-22 17:13

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fairyman wrote The number plates on the front are supposedly from other cars that the truck destroyed


I noticed that IMDB has two mixed statements about this subject in its Trivia:

"Steven Spielberg said that the multiple license plates on the front bumper of the truck suggested that the truck driver is a serial killer which "ran down other drivers in other states"."

And another:

"The license plates on the front of the truck are for each state that the truck drives in, kind of a way of paying tax. Most of the plate have an MC on them which means "Motor Carrier" and the New Mexico plate is a HUP "Highway Use Permit". "

I mean, it's like, other saying they're from its other "killed" cars and another saying that they're its own, meaning the states this truck driver drives in.

-- Last edit: 2015-07-22 17:16:15

Pierre EN

2016-05-08 06:02

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Good for Skid, noting (2006) the 'Incredible Hulk' footage. Shame the 1955 Peterbilt got destroyed - nice old lorry and a superb screen heavy, in more ways than one.
I remember reading that Spielberg was delighted an eagle-eyed film fan spotted, in one scene, that Dennis Weaver appeared to have a passenger sitting in the back of his car (which SS had missed in the editing for the release print).

Commander 57 US

2016-05-08 14:49

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I don't think I was ever more affected by a vehicle in a movie than I was by this truck!
(And I did not feel much more pain for a vehicle than I did for the poor Valiant.)

mike962

2016-05-08 15:06

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Commander 57 wrote I don't think I was ever more affected by a vehicle in a movie than I was by this truck!
(And I did not feel much more pain for a vehicle than I did for the poor Valiant.)

Oh really ????

what about this one ? :D
/vehicle_2477-Plymouth-Belvedere-1958.html

Commander 57 US

2016-05-08 18:23

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Ah, but Christine was evil.
David's car served "valiantly" and gave its life for him.

mike962

2016-05-08 18:41

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Christine wasn't that evil , most of dudes she killed were jerks who deserved to die ;)

the sad biker UK

2017-07-04 15:45

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Has anyone ever produced a diecast model of this truck?

chicomarx BE

2017-07-27 03:46

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Indeed there doesn't seem to be any scale models of the Peterbilt, or the Valiant... hole in the market.

midnight US

2017-07-27 05:02

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This was custom made by someone, he even has all the license plates correct!

[Image: dueltruckdirty.jpg]

train68 US

2017-11-09 19:07

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8ed5 wrote

I noticed that IMDB has two mixed statements about this subject in its Trivia:

"Steven Spielberg said that the multiple license plates on the front bumper of the truck suggested that the truck driver is a serial killer which "ran down other drivers in other states"."

And another:

"The license plates on the front of the truck are for each state that the truck drives in, kind of a way of paying tax. Most of the plate have an MC on them which means "Motor Carrier" and the New Mexico plate is a HUP "Highway Use Permit". "

I mean, it's like, other saying they're from its other "killed" cars and another saying that they're its own, meaning the states this truck driver drives in.

Miss Fritter, the school bus from Cars 3 carries license plates from other cars she beat in the demolition derby.

chicomarx BE

2017-11-09 19:13

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Truck companies did have multiple license plates for different states they operated in, before information was exchanged by computer. Example /vehicle_206119-GMC-Astro-1980.html Not its victims.

train68 US

2017-12-29 09:02

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Here's why I think the truck driver is a psychotic murderer.

Long ago, during the fifties and sixties, the trucker mostly delivered fuel to gas stations across the country. Unfortunately, he would sometimes run late because of road hogs slowing him down and not letting him pass. No matter how many times he honked his horn, they wouldn't let him pass.

Eventually, the truck driver lost his job for being late once too often (yet he somehow still kept his truck). This made him so upset, that he snapped. He became a road hog himself, and became bent on murdering any motorists who cut him off or slowed him down.

Starting in mid-1971, he spent most of his time killing road hogs who slowed him down. When he started his killing spree, he decided not to do it on the interstate, since people would see him. He also decided to collect license plates from the wrecks of his dead victims.

Whenever someone tried to contact the cops, he would kill those people in the phone booths, or if they were in a small building, would smash through the walls with his truck, killing everyone. Whenever the cops interfered, he would run them down.

I'm not saying this is the actual reason. It's just a guess.

-- Last edit: 2017-12-29 16:55:40

Commander 57 US

2017-12-29 14:54

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Anyone doing something to that extent would draw immediate mass media attention. He wouldn't last long out of captivity.

train68 US

2017-12-29 16:40

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Commander 57 wrote Anyone doing something to that extent would draw immediate mass media attention. He wouldn't last long out of captivity.

Good point.

happy_toyz US

2018-05-17 02:03

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A youtube made by theAFICIONAUTO shows and talks about the last remaining Duel Truck with a backstory about Brad Wike coming across it and later on buying it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpXtfYPzN30

GodzillaFan54 CA

2019-10-13 14:16

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You guys know how as the truck goes off the cliff, the driver-side door is open? That's because the mechanism they had created which would let the truck drive itself for a bit broke day of so Cary Loftin, who played the truck driver and was the film's stunt co-ordinator, had to drive the truck towards the cliff and once it was going fast enough, he just jumped out of the truck and he had to do it well before the cliff because once you hit the ground after diving out of a moving vehicle, you still roll! Since you can see the open door, a lot of people assumed the driver had escaped somehow.

This is why I prefer certain '70s movies over todays films; whenever they had to do something dangerous, they did it for real!

slon95 RU

2019-10-13 15:17

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I understand that both the truck and the tank seem completely devoid of paint? This is unusual since it is not something that can usually be seen even with very old metal.

GodzillaFan54 CA

2019-10-13 21:35

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slon95 wrote I understand that both the truck and the tank seem completely devoid of paint? This is unusual since it is not something that can usually be seen even with very old metal.


I think the truck was probably brown (or at least dark orange) when it was new and by this time the paint had faded to the point where the rust just blends in.

tararubena US

2020-01-03 08:35

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I am really happy to read your article, very accurate street view

-- Last edit: 2020-01-03 08:36:24

mike962

2020-01-11 13:32

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpXtfYPzN30

mackinac359 US

2020-01-18 23:41

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The truck and trailer are a very light gold in color with pink fenders. The layers of "Hollywood grime" create the illusion of no color. The gold has taken on a brownish-hue due to the layers grime added. The lighting and lens filters create more of color illusion.

Many think the truck was all primer - but if you look close, it's just dirty, oily, dusty and grimy. The grime adds to the menacing look - almost as if the truck is part of the desert.

-- Last edit: 2020-01-18 23:42:40

1693power US

2020-02-28 07:55

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The initial September 1971 filming of the 74-minute made-for-tv version of Duel uses only a single truck and trailer, a former Union Oil tractor. This post is about that truck.

Union Oil bought two 351 truck and trailers in October 1956 (I have one). Union Oil also bought two 281 tag axle tractors in April 1957, and one more 351 truck and trailer in June 1957. Those are the ONLY 1954-1961 Union Oil narrow hood Petes in factory build records. Further, there are no other matching 281s in Peterbilt's 1954-1961 production. Even though the truck was called by it's prior owner Dan Jackson a '55, and his drivers (Bruce Werner, Jim Posey) knew it as such, the truck has to be one of the two April 1957 tractors.

The two 1957s were taken from Motor Truck Distributors, the L.A. Peterbilt dealer at the time, to Weld-It in Commerce to be outfitted as tractors, painted (Peterbilt supplied them in primer), and have 40' tank trailers designed and engineered to complement the tractors. All of this was per a December 1956 bid. Note that the trailers initially fitted to the two tractors were completely different than the trailer appearing in the film. A Weld-It photo of one of the brand new trucks exists, both in Weld-It's and Stan Holtzman's collections. Weld-It had it's own dark room, and shared pics with Stan. The truck was blue, though many versions of the image are from a badly faded set of negatives which come out green and pink.

By the late '60s, one of the trucks had been sold to Dan Jackson. Jackson was a contracted hauler for Union Oil, and had good contacts there. Most of his drivers at the time were moonlighting Union Oil drivers. One of the places to which this truck delivered bulk fuel was. . . Universal Studios. Jackson sold the truck and trailer with it at the time, to Universal, and was given back the salvage after the Mystery Mesa cliff scene, after a crane dragged up the pieces.

The '57 came new with an NH6B 250hp Cummins with a water-cooled turbo. Those were not long-lived. Jackson told his drivers that the "'55" had a supercharged Cummins (NHBS/NHRS) when he got it. Again-no such supercharged 281 exists in the records, not in '55, or anywhere '54-'61. I can only speculate that the original engine died and was replaced by the charger engine. But the supercharged engine also gave way, and Dan Jackson had Sheppard Caterpillar in Los Angeles repower the truck with a 525ci, 245hp 1673B Cat engine. That would probably have been circa '66-'68. The distinctive 4" outlet sideways Donaldson air cleaner actually says "CAT 1673" on it, above the decal which provides servicing instructions. It is the Cat-furnished air cleaner for 1673s. Along the way, the truck's fragile Fuller R-960 overdrive transmission was replaced with an RTO-913 Fuller, and it's original R-230 top-loading differential was replaced with a newer R-series front-loader, probably an R-170, while still using the factory original Page & Page 55/45 50" tag axle suspension and TKL-570 tag axle. Spring brakes were also fitted (drive axle only)

So, the truck as it appears in the film has a 1673B and an RTO-913. The distinctive radiator-side grad handles, cab back handle, deck plate, toolbox, and front and side loop steps were all fitted by Weld-It in April '57, as was the right side Utility spotlight.

The original trailer was built by Industrial Steel Tank and Body, which had East Bay and L.A. locations. I am still attempting to learn more about it's working life. The trailer is on torsion bar suspension, but NOT a 4-bar Fruehauf arrangement. It instead is almost certainly on Kenworth torsion bar suspension.

I have researched this truck and trailer extensively. My assertions are supported by documentary evidence and credible first-hand accounts. If ANYONE has connections to the late Dan Jackson's family, please let me know. If anyone has any information or images of the truck not commonly in circulation, please get in touch with me.

-- Last edit: 2020-02-28 08:01:20

Senatorchris DE

2020-09-13 21:39

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1693power wrote The initial September 1971 filming of the 74-minute made-for-tv version of Duel uses only a single truck and trailer, a former Union Oil tractor. This post is about that truck.

Union Oil bought two 351 truck and trailers in October 1956 (I have one). Union Oil also bought two 281 tag axle tractors in April 1957, and one more 351 truck and trailer in June 1957. Those are the ONLY 1954-1961 Union Oil narrow hood Petes in factory build records. Further, there are no other matching 281s in Peterbilt's 1954-1961 production. Even though the truck was called by it's prior owner Dan Jackson a '55, and his drivers (Bruce Werner, Jim Posey) knew it as such, the truck has to be one of the two April 1957 tractors.

The two 1957s were taken from Motor Truck Distributors, the L.A. Peterbilt dealer at the time, to Weld-It in Commerce to be outfitted as tractors, painted (Peterbilt supplied them in primer), and have 40' tank trailers designed and engineered to complement the tractors. All of this was per a December 1956 bid. Note that the trailers initially fitted to the two tractors were completely different than the trailer appearing in the film. A Weld-It photo of one of the brand new trucks exists, both in Weld-It's and Stan Holtzman's collections. Weld-It had it's own dark room, and shared pics with Stan. The truck was blue, though many versions of the image are from a badly faded set of negatives which come out green and pink.

By the late '60s, one of the trucks had been sold to Dan Jackson. Jackson was a contracted hauler for Union Oil, and had good contacts there. Most of his drivers at the time were moonlighting Union Oil drivers. One of the places to which this truck delivered bulk fuel was. . . Universal Studios. Jackson sold the truck and trailer with it at the time, to Universal, and was given back the salvage after the Mystery Mesa cliff scene, after a crane dragged up the pieces.

The '57 came new with an NH6B 250hp Cummins with a water-cooled turbo. Those were not long-lived. Jackson told his drivers that the "'55" had a supercharged Cummins (NHBS/NHRS) when he got it. Again-no such supercharged 281 exists in the records, not in '55, or anywhere '54-'61. I can only speculate that the original engine died and was replaced by the charger engine. But the supercharged engine also gave way, and Dan Jackson had Sheppard Caterpillar in Los Angeles repower the truck with a 525ci, 245hp 1673B Cat engine. That would probably have been circa '66-'68. The distinctive 4" outlet sideways Donaldson air cleaner actually says "CAT 1673" on it, above the decal which provides servicing instructions. It is the Cat-furnished air cleaner for 1673s. Along the way, the truck's fragile Fuller R-960 overdrive transmission was replaced with an RTO-913 Fuller, and it's original R-230 top-loading differential was replaced with a newer R-series front-loader, probably an R-170, while still using the factory original Page & Page 55/45 50" tag axle suspension and TKL-570 tag axle. Spring brakes were also fitted (drive axle only)

So, the truck as it appears in the film has a 1673B and an RTO-913. The distinctive radiator-side grad handles, cab back handle, deck plate, toolbox, and front and side loop steps were all fitted by Weld-It in April '57, as was the right side Utility spotlight.

The original trailer was built by Industrial Steel Tank and Body, which had East Bay and L.A. locations. I am still attempting to learn more about it's working life. The trailer is on torsion bar suspension, but NOT a 4-bar Fruehauf arrangement. It instead is almost certainly on Kenworth torsion bar suspension.

I have researched this truck and trailer extensively. My assertions are supported by documentary evidence and credible first-hand accounts. If ANYONE has connections to the late Dan Jackson's family, please let me know. If anyone has any information or images of the truck not commonly in circulation, please get in touch with me.


1693power, that is some valuable information that you posted. Thanks for sharing! I've been trying to find out what the (1957, as I have learnt) main truck of the movie originally looked like, FOR AGES. So, the truck was (dark) blue while it was a Union Oil tanker - what about the frame/chassis parts and rims? In the movie, some scenes show the tractor's slowly rotating propshaft and I have noticed the remnants of what appears to be some white or creamish color - though that doesn't necessarily mean it was originally painted that way ...?

Would it be possible to view the aforementioned pictures of the truck in its original configuration, with the Industrial Steel Tank trailer?

1693power US

2020-10-09 12:01

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These are both the same image of either the 1957 Peterbilt 281 from Duel, or its sister truck. It is a circa April 1957 image. The tractor was outfitted by Weld-It, pursuant to Union Oil Dec '56 bid specs. The Weld-It trailer(s) are not in Duel. Remember, these trucks started out life with Weld-It trailers, but the movie tractor was later on mated with the Industrial Steel Tank & Body trailer (which was not new at the time) The correct colors are blue, orange & white. However, the negatives for this image have faded badly, and the subsequent prints come out green & pink due to fading.
[Image: 572c0a0e-7911-4dbf-b100-d074ecb8afa6.jpg]
[Image: a33aa326-f7d0-4000-bce4-77e275b758b0.jpg]
Stack mirror, toolbox with step, diamondette deck plate, radiator grab handles, R side spotlight, R bumper step, it's all there.

Regarding the white color: the two '57s were supplied by Peterbilt in primer, and were painted when the trailer was painted by Weld-It. This was common practice in SoCal petroleum industry. BUT, eventually Peterbilt would not sell an unpainted truck, and instead neutral (and sometimes satin finish) paints were used. Union Oil ordered trucks in sand tan, a very light manila color-a Studebaker color Peterbilt used a lot for this purpose. Union Oil ALSO had some trucks operating (directly or through independent contractors) in such a color. It is possible that the Duel tractor was repainted light tan to operate in that fleet later on, OR upon sale, as a base for the gold. Here is an off-white/tan Union Oil truck as an example. I have other examples, but this photo is actually in color.
[Image: 07042092-0bf3-400e-939a-d0504f2be248.jpg]

-- Last edit: 2020-10-09 12:05:23

Senatorchris DE

2020-10-24 12:57

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1693power wrote These are both the same image of either the 1957 Peterbilt 281 from Duel, or its sister truck. It is a circa April 1957 image. The tractor was outfitted by Weld-It, pursuant to Union Oil Dec '56 bid specs. The Weld-It trailer(s) are not in Duel. Remember, these trucks started out life with Weld-It trailers, but the movie tractor was later on mated with the Industrial Steel Tank & Body trailer (which was not new at the time) The correct colors are blue, orange & white. However, the negatives for this image have faded badly, and the subsequent prints come out green & pink due to fading.
[Image: 572c0a0e-7911-4dbf-b100-d074ecb8afa6.jpg]
[Image: a33aa326-f7d0-4000-bce4-77e275b758b0.jpg]
Stack mirror, toolbox with step, diamondette deck plate, radiator grab handles, R side spotlight, R bumper step, it's all there.

Regarding the white color: the two '57s were supplied by Peterbilt in primer, and were painted when the trailer was painted by Weld-It. This was common practice in SoCal petroleum industry. BUT, eventually Peterbilt would not sell an unpainted truck, and instead neutral (and sometimes satin finish) paints were used. Union Oil ordered trucks in sand tan, a very light manila color-a Studebaker color Peterbilt used a lot for this purpose. Union Oil ALSO had some trucks operating (directly or through independent contractors) in such a color. It is possible that the Duel tractor was repainted light tan to operate in that fleet later on, OR upon sale, as a base for the gold. Here is an off-white/tan Union Oil truck as an example. I have other examples, but this photo is actually in color.
[Image: 07042092-0bf3-400e-939a-d0504f2be248.jpg]


1693power, thank you for posting these very special images! I mistakenly thought that the original trailers were made by Industrial Steel Tank and Body - and that Weld-It only did the 5th wheel and accessories you mentioned. Now I have learnt that the first trailers were Weld-Its (2nd of your photos). Not of the skirted design, this trailer type looks quite modern considering its age/vintage.
It is very interesting what you wrote about the trucks painted in Sand Tan. It seems that the remaining light paint seen on the propshaft (and possibly also some of the rims) originate from said repaint.
I am determined to design and build a big scale model of the original truck, so I'm trying to gather as many specs and information on this rig as possible. It is still going to take some time till I get around to start with this project, though.
The amazing knowledge and scans you've provided have been of great help, thanks again.

Commander 57 US

2020-10-24 17:55

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If you build it, be sure to post a photo here!

Senatorchris DE

2020-10-24 23:46

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Commander 57 wrote If you build it, be sure to post a photo here!


Will do, for sure. As I said, it will take some time though ...

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