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How many trucks have been used in the movie Duel? Which trucks? Peterbilt 281 or 351?
Nobody tells the same story on the web!
The following explanations are an approximate synthesis of what you can read on the web!
Spielberg had what he called an "audition" for the truck, wherein he viewed a series of trucks to choose the one for the film.
He selected the older 1955 Peterbilt 281 over the current flat-nosed "cab-over" style of trucks because the long hood of the Peterbilt, its split windshield, and its round headlights gave it more of a "face", adding to its menacing personality.
The original 74-minute TV movie used a tag axle 1955 Peterbilt 281, making it looking like a Peterbilt 351, with two rear axles.
The truck had a CAT 1674 turbocharged engine with a 13-speed transmission, making it capable of hauling loads over 30 tons and top speeds reaching 75–80 mph.
This was the truck used for close ups as well as the one sent over the cliff at the end of the movie.
Additionally, Spielberg said that the multiple license plates on the front bumper of the Peterbilt subtly suggested that the truck driver is a serial killer, having "run down other drivers in other states".
For each shot, several people were tasked to make it uglier; each successively adding oil, grease, fake dead insects and other blemishes
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 backup truck is an exact copy, a 281 with tag axle and a Cummins engine.
The only difference between the two trucks was the air cleaners : the Cat had a square air cleaner while the Cummins had a round one.
Some people say that this backup truck has been used in the TV movie, others say that the truck prepared as a backup went unused.
But after Duel aired on TV, Universal wanted to release it in theaters, and 74 minutes was too short for a theatrical release, so additional scenes were filmed.
In 1974, a third truck, a 1964 Peterbilt 351, was built to shoot a few extra scenes (the railroad crossing scene and the school bus scene), but that truck is long gone now.
The movie was extended from 74 minutes to 91 minutes and released in theaters in Europe.
Only one truck survived : the tag axle 281 prepared as a backup truck.
This truck is the synthesis between the three trucks. Images from the web and images from the movie. But it is interesting to look carefully at the movie to see that the trucks are different. The basis of my 3D truck is the one used when the Peterbilt is pushing the car toward the train. The chassis frame is longer.
I have spent a long time to create realistic textures. The license plates ( in front of the truck and on the back of the tank ) are the same than the ones used in the movie.
This model will be available soon for Poser, Daz and as OBJ/FBX model at Renderosity.