Optimus Prime, Kenworth W100

Trucking Trivia: Transformers’ Optimus Prime was a Kenworth K100

The trucking industry has been well-represented in media. That said, one of the most popular representations of a semi-truck is often forgotten about. No – I’m not talking about the trucks from Maximum Overdrive or Smokey and the Bandit.

I’m talking about Optimus Prime from Transformers.

Despite the fact that a semi-truck is the cornerstone of the entire franchise, the trucks often get forgotten about when you’re looking at the overall landscape of the trucking industry in films and television. Still, Optimus Prime was a key part of one of the most successful movie franchises in American history.

Trucking Trivia: Did you know that Optimus Prime was a Kenworth K100?

Okay… if we’re getting really technical, Optimus Prime was represented by a few different trucks. We’ve seen more recent renditions of Optimus Prime as a custom Western Star truck and as a Peterbilt. But as many things go, nothing ever matches the original.

In this case, the original was based on a cabover Kenworth K100. This would eventually be changed into a Peterbilt 379. In fact, everything about the design of Optimus Prime “transformed,” so to speak.

The truck now features a blue and red flame design and is no longer a cabover. The longer nose on the truck makes it look more menacing at times.

Smokey and the Bandit, Snowman's Truck

‘The Snowman’ from Smokey and the Bandit drove a 1974 Kenworth W900A

The trucking industry is well-represented throughout popular culture. Whether trucking is being used to create a villainous antagonist or being used as the good guy in a film, there is no lack of semi-trucks in the industry.

And more than a handful of these trucks have become infamous over the years.

One that we’ve discussed in the past is the Green Goblin from Maximum Overdrive, a 1986 film about a self-aware, evil semi-truck. Optimus Prime from the Transformers series is another big one.

Another one, often forgotten about, is The Snowman’s truck from Smokey and the Bandit, an extremely popular movie from nearly a half-century ago. But what truck model was driven in this movie and why?

“The Snowman” drove a 1974 Kenworth W900A

If you are unable to read the title and the headline above, “The Snowman” from Smokey and the Bandit drove a 1974 Kenworth 900A.


There’s no concrete answer here but hotcars.com theorizes that the truck’s main appeal for the film was it’s look. After all, if you’re shooting a movie with a prominent truck in it, you’re going to want that truck to look as truck-y as possible. Here’s how Hotcar’s Edwin Karicho described it.

“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.”

This truck did have its flaws, but it was perfect for the film.

But if you already knew all of this, here’s something you may not know. Smokey and the Bandit actually used three different trucks to shoot this movie. Two were nearly identical 1974 W900As, while the third was a 1973 model with a gold Kenworth logo, according to Hotcars.

Unfortunately, nobody knows where these trucks are today.