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Top 10 Truck Movies

A rundown of some of the best motion pictures featuring big rigs as the stars.

Apr 3, 2020
Big rigs. Tractor trailers. Semis. As Class 8 trucks (GVWR exceeds 33,000 pounds) go, today's Kenworths, Peterbilts, Volvos, Freightliners, etc., are the upper echelon of diesel-powered vehicles. They're considered by many to be the kings of the road.
Although our reporting on these trucks is limited (Editor KJ Jones is Truck Trend's resident big-rig fan and a regular at the annual Shell Rotella SuperRigs show), we still recognize and appreciate all types of tractor-trailer setups—the trucks, especially their drivetrains (engines/transmissions), and the drivers, for the jobs they do day after day, year after year.
One of the cool things that we have learned over the years is that truckers typically are committed to diesel through and through. Yes, they're hardcore to the point where their moneymakers are powered by oil burners, and many drivers also have smaller diesel rigs such as pickup trucks, SUVs, and/or sedans that are used for non-work and family transportation.
However, the trucking lifestyle, especially that of long-haul, over-the-road jockeys who traverse the U.S, transporting anything the brain can process—think of something used in our daily lives, and you can bet a truck moves it or can move it—is what's most intriguing. In extreme cases, it's a nomadic, gypsy-like existence, which some folks actually live vicariously through the men and women who actually climb into the cab, get behind the wheel and jam gears down the highway.
The attraction is far from new. And when it comes to telling trucking's story from an entertainment perspective, big rigs and drivers have been the storyline and "stars" of major films and television programs about the profession that date all the way back to 1940.
We're currently in a space where keeping ourselves occupied with music, books, and videos/movies/TV programs has become a vital element of our lives. They are necessary breaks from our work routines, or simply a way to escape boredom brought by being socially distant. We think our list of top-10 truck movies (one actually spun off into a TV show) is something that trucking geeks will dig. No, the choices are not Oscar winners by any stretch, but they all do a pretty good job of depicting trucker life in some way or another.
A few of our selections actually are cult classics now. Flicks like "In Tandem," "Convoy," "High Ballin'," "They Drive by Night," "Hijack," and KJ's personal favorite, "White Line Fever," are high-speed-stunt-filled action dramas with plotlines that are based on the challenges independent truckers faced in the 1970s. That includes 55-mph speed limits, high fuel prices, ruthless load dispatchers, corrupt sheriffs, and greedy trucking companies. Films like "Duel," "Smokey and the Bandit," and "Snitch" also feature some of the wildest stunts ever performed with a tractor-trailer. "Big Rig" is the only documentary in our group, and it's an excellent addition. The constant among all of the movies on our list is that the rigs seem to always grab the lion's share of the spotlight, which is awesome in our opinion.
Here are our top-10 truck movies, including quick data about each rig (year/make/model and whatever drivetrain info we could find). It's important to note that for most of our selections, several trucks of varying model years (typically three to five years older or younger than the principal tractor) were used during the film's production. Rigs were painted and appointed identically for consistency, and there are many instances where trucks that look identical to the main rig are actually replacements that had different engines, transmissions, and styling differences than the combinations we list in this rundown.
Many of these titles can be found online by doing Google or YouTube searches or on satellite/cable TV channels, such as American Film Classics, Turner Network Television and Independent Film Channel. If you're into trucks and trucking and looking for good entertainment, we recommend you check out these films.

Top-10 Truck Movies

Photo 2/15   |   001 Top 10 Truck Movies
Photo 3/15   |   002 Top 10 Truck Movies
  • They Drive by Night (1940)

Truck(s): 1928 Sterling EB 18, 1934 GMC T-Series,
1937 GMC F-Series
Photo 4/15   |   003 Top 10 Truck Movies
  • Duel (1971)

Truck: 1955 Peterbilt 281
Engine/Transmission: 1674 CAT/10-Speed
Photo 5/15   |   004 Top 10 Truck Movies
  • In Tandem/Movin' On (1973/1974)

Truck(s): 1973 Kenworth W923, 1974 Kenworth
Engine/Transmission: VT903 Cummins/13-Speed
Photo 6/15   |   005 Top 10 Truck Movies
  • Hijack (1974)

Truck: 1974 White Freightliner WFT-7564
Photo 7/15   |   006 Top 10 Truck Movies
  • White Line Fever (1975)

Truck: 1974 Ford WT9000
Name/Handle: Blue Mule
Engine/Transmission: NTC 400 Cummins/10-speed
Photo 11/15   |   010 Top 10 Truck Movies
  • Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Truck: 1974 Kenworth W900A
Name/Handle: Snowman
Engine/Transmission: 3406 CAT/13-speed
Photo 12/15   |   011 Top 10 Truck Movies
  • High Ballin' (1978)

Truck: 1973 Kenworth K123
Name/Handle: Iron Duke
Photo 13/15   |   012 Top 10 Truck Movies
  • Convoy (1978)

Truck: 1977 Mack RS-712LST
Name/Handle: Rubber Duck
Engine/Transmission: Mack "Tip Turbine"
Turbocharged I-6/10-Speed
Photo 14/15   |   013 Top 10 Truck Movies
  • Big Rig (2007/Documentary)

Truck(s): All sorts of really cool rigs
Photo 15/15   |   014 Top 10 Truck Movies
  • Snitch (2013)

Truck: 2009 Freightliner Coronado
Engine/Transmission: Detroit Diesel DD15/13-