Every once in a while it is fun to look back at our past cover features and answer the question, “Where are they now?” Having published 10-4 Magazine for 21 years now, we have had some memorable covers, for sure, but none have been as popular and talked about (even today) as our May 2004 cover featuring the ghostly “Duel” truck from the 1971 movie about a renegade rig that terrorizes an unsuspecting Dennis Weaver in his red Plymouth Valiant for no apparent reason at all. Well, we recently stumbled upon the Duel truck while on a photo shoot in North Carolina and realized that it had been ten years since we had seen it last, so we thought it might be fun to bring everyone up-to-date as to where the truck has been for the past decade.
What could be more disturbing than a psychopathic trucker, behind the wheel of a derelict truck, harassing innocent motorists out on the highway? To most drivers, not much. Based on this simple yet frightening premise, Steven Spielberg directed Duel, his first real movie, in 1971. In the film, a traveling salesman (Dennis Weaver) is suddenly menaced on the highway by a rogue narrow-nose Peterbilt pulling a tanker trailer. Although he can never see the driver of the truck, he soon realizes that this guy is out to kill him! This truck was not the prettiest truck to ever grace our cover (in fact, it might be the ugliest), but for fans of the movie, they quickly realized that this was the rig from the film. In fact, as we were told by the owner at that time, it is the only surviving truck from the movie.
Some might ask how this truck survived the big crash off the cliff at the end of the movie. Well, it didn’t. That truck was destroyed. While filming, the truck’s Cat engine (at that time there was only one truck) began having problems, and they were afraid it might not make it to the end so a second truck was built as a backup. The truck you saw on our cover in 2004 and now here on these pages is that truck. The truck that was featured in most of the film was a 1955 Pete 351 with a Cat engine. The backup truck was an exact copy, but it is a 1960 model with a Cummins. The only difference between the two trucks were the air cleaners – which is painfully obvious if you watch the movie today. After the film was shot, the truck was parked in George Sack’s yard in Agua Dulce, CA where it sat for 30 years.
Neil Losasso of Burbank, CA had been a fan of the movie Duel all of his life. He remembers how scary he thought the movie was when he was a kid. Years later, after finding out that there was a Duel truck still in existence, he began looking for it. After years of searching, he found it in 2003 in George’s yard, just sitting there, like it basically had done for three decades. He climbed inside and pushed the button and low and behold, it fired right up. It took him about three seconds to decide that he wanted to buy it. The following year, in 2004, we shot it for our cover on the very same roads where the movie was shot just outside Los Angeles, CA.
Neil always wanted to find a way to make some money from the truck but that never really transpired. Shortly after landing on our cover, Neil sold the truck and trailer to collector Dan Bruno of St. Louis, MO. Attempting to drive the truck from California to Missouri, it didn’t get much further than Arizona, where the engine died. After towing the two pieces back to St. Louis, Dan had the truck’s 335 Cummins rebuilt and changed out the suspension to a newer Reyco system. While in Dan’s care, he also changed out the Cummins air cleaner to a Cat air cleaner so that his truck would look more like the main truck used in the movie. Wanting to spend more time on some of his other projects, Dan sold the truck and trailer to Brad Wike of Lincolnton, NC in 2009, which is where we found it earlier this year.
Traveling to Lincolnton (which is just outside Charlotte) to shoot Robb Mariani’s Ford W9000 hot rod for our May 2014 cover, we were shocked to find the Duel truck parked inside Brad’s shop. Parked next to the Duel truck was also a replica viper red 1970 Plymouth Valiant just like the one used in the movie that Brad bought and built to go with the truck. We had no idea it would be there, and we were frankly pretty surprised to see it again after all these years – especially way out in the “sticks” of North Carolina! But these were not the only cool rides in Brad’s shop.
Also in Brad’s shop, in addition to the Duel truck, we found a unique 1980 British Scammell “Crusader” COE, complete with right-hand-drive and a Rolls-Royce engine (probably the only one ever imported into the United States), several 1953 Mack H61 Cherrypickers (he thinks there are only ten of these left – and he has three of them), a 1949 Studebaker pickup truck, and a 1969 Pete 352 cabover. He also had a beautiful 1974 White Freightliner cabover, a restored 1969 R-Model Mack, a 1976 Kenworth W900 fire truck with only 38,000 actual miles on it, a 1963 B-61 Mack (his very first restoration project), and a bunch of old GMCs, including rare “Cannonball” and “Crackerbox” cabovers. Outside of Brad’s shop, scattered all over his yard, are probably a hundred amazing old rigs eagerly waiting for their turn to be restored, including a rare 1983 limited edition “Gold Nugget” Kenworth W900!
Since owning the Duel truck, Brad has not done much to the truck, but he did add the “swamp cooler” to the back of the cab and he did climb up on the roof and bend the horn to look more like the main truck used in the filming of the movie (the one that went off the cliff and was destroyed at the end). In addition to this movie truck, Brad also has an exact replica of the Smokey and the Bandit rig that “Snowman” drove in that movie – this truck is a black and gold 1973 Kenworth W900 hooked to a 1976 Hobbs 40-foot trailer that was hand-painted by old “wall dog” Gene Maynor over a three-month period using half-inch wide paint brushes. Brad’s latest project is a 1978 GMC extended hood 9500-Series conventional with a small bunk and a Cummins, and we are sure that he will have this old relic looking top-notch in no time.
If you want to see the Duel truck in person, and many of Brad’s other amazing restorations, he hosts a big show on his large, grass-covered property in Lincolnton, NC every year. Started 13 years ago as an antique show for his ATHS chapter at the local fairgrounds, the event quickly outgrew the location and was moved to Brad’s 40-acre place out in the country. Today, Brad’s Southern Classic Truck Show attracts over 300 trucks a year and features vendors, live music, free food and drinks, and some of the coolest trucks – new and old. This year his show is being held on September 13th and everyone is welcome. For more information, call Brad at (828) 612-3447 or see the full ad for the truck show on page 85 of this issue.
At just 48 years old, Brad Wike has ran BPW Transport, which currently consists of five Peterbilt 379s and multiple trailers, since 1990. Hauling mostly “hot freight” loads in dry vans and on flatbeds, BPW primarily operates within a 250-mile radius around Charlotte, NC. Brad got the “trucking bug” from his grandfather and uncle, who were both truck drivers, when he was just a kid (he loved going out on the road with them). Today, between running the company and operating his “Humane Society for Big Rigs” as Robb Mariana calls it, Brad is a busy guy.
We hope you have enjoyed this update of the Duel truck – it seems to be just as popular today as it was ten years ago. We sure enjoyed stumbling upon it that rainy day in North Carolina and taking it outside for some fun pictures with Brad and his Valiant. But, if you happen to see this old truck out on the road, we recommend that you kindly get the hell out of its way!