Here’s a detailed rundown of why the truck from Smokey and the Bandit had to be the 1974 Kenworth W900A.
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The 70s and 80s witnessed no scarcity of car madness in movies. One of the most spell-binding productions during that era was 1977’s Smokey and The Bandit. The production set out to crack ribs, and with a $300 million return at the box office, it proved to be more than equal to the task; and while we are at it, if you like car action, you will no doubt fall in love with the 1974 Kenworth W900a semi-truck that graced our screens throughout the movie. The two speedsters of the film, Butt Reynolds (“The Bandit”) and Jerry Reed (“The Snowman”) are seen hurtling across states, Bandit in a scathingly fast 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, with Snowman playing catch up in the Kenworth.
The duo is bent on delivering 400 cases of very illegal at the time Coors beer from Texarkana to Atlanta in an impossible 28 hours, a feat whose odds they set out to beat having being lured in with a payout of $80,000. Reaching Texarkana an entire hour ahead of time, they were off to a great start. Their return journey proved to be far from perfect, as everything soon descended into chaos.
The 1974 Kenworth semi-truck held its own throughout the film, and while the trucking industry was going strong in the 70s, Smokey and the Bandit did fire up a good chunk of would-be truckers. Here’s a detailed rundown of why the truck from Smokey and the Bandit had to be the 1974 Kenworth W900A.
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First, Here”s Some Backstory On The Kenworth W900A
The Kenworth W900 is a line of cab-over-chassis trucks produced by the truck manufacturing company Paccar, a Fortune 500 company that is also responsible for Leyland, Peterbilt, and DAF trucks.
The W900 series made its debut in 1961, with the first W900A model showing up in 1967. The Kenworth W900A was quite the leap over its predecessor, as it featured larger diesel engines, and a wider hood to accommodate a larger radiator. In the years from 1967 leading up to 1974, there was an emphasis on making everything larger on the truck. The Kenworth branch of Paccar would go on to implement minor design changes on the truck but nothing too drastic changed up until the model line was replaced in 1982 by the W900B.
While we’re taking a trip down memory lane, let us point out that the ‘W’ in the model designation stands for Worthington. Even more notable, Kenworth is a portmanteau that stems from Harry Kent and Edgar Worthington, the two principal founding fathers of Kenworth.
With a big hood and a ton of power beneath said hood, the truck is heaved by a twin-turbo Cummins, with the occasional truck carrying a 3408 Cat instead. The BBC (bumper to back-of-cab) for the W900 model ranges from 121 inches to 130 inches, which makes it one of the largest cabs you can find.
During its unveiling, the Kenworth W900A featured Kenworth’s newly released 8-bag suspension, and the truck quickly gained a reputation for its soothing ride on the road. This was further enhanced by the fact that the truck featured a lush interior that was decked out in thick leather padding and even had a shelf in the bunk to accommodate a TV. This was a 70s truck, keep in mind. Winters were hardly noticed, given the good insulation within the cab and summer was a breeze with the air conditioning built-in (albeit not every unit came with air-conditioning).
The designers at Kenworth no doubt pulled out all the stops with their crafting of the W900A, as it had heads turning every which way with its huge grille bars, and multi-colored paint jobs that could be ordered right from the factory.