The scene is so ingrained into automotive television lore: a red Plymouth Valiant roaming around California, with a Peterbilt 281 hauling an old tanker trailer hot on his rear bumper. You don’t see much of anything about the driver of the rig, but you see plenty of Dennis Weaver’s Dennis Mann character, sweating it out as he tries to figure out just what in the hell the trucker in the old, derelict Pete has in store for him around the next bend. For seventy-four minutes, the storyline is simple: one pissed-off trucker in a rolling nightmare of a machine chases down a nice and tidy salesman in a nice and tidy Plymouth. You don’t know why the trucker wants Mann dead, you only know that he won’t stop until the Plymouth is little more than a grease spot on the highway and Mann’s corpse needs to be cleaned out of the Peterbilt’s grille.
In the original television movie, one 1955 Peterbilt 281 was used and flung over the cliff to it’s death, but when the movie was converted into a feature-length film, two more trucks were sourced: a 1964 Peterbilt 351, which was destroyed for a different movie, and this truck, a 1960 281 that was never used. It’s traded hands a few times and is now part of a museum collection in North Carolina. Ever wanted to see things from the driver’s point of view? Click on the video below for a closer look inside and around the madman’s machine: