BJ and the Bear (Kenworth in Pop Culture)

Beginning in the 1970s, the United States saw a dramatic rise in the popularity of trucker culture. Many television shows and movies highlighted the adventures of life on the open road, and more than a few drivers on the road today credit their original interest in trucking to these Hollywood offerings. Several popular TV shows and movies from the 1970s and ‘80s included what quickly became iconic Kenworth trucks.

BJ and the Bear ran for three seasons (1978-1981) on NBC and followed the story of trucker BJ McKay and his chimpanzee copilot, Bear.

Greg Evigan, the star of the show, performed many of his own stunts and driving scenes. Additionally, the character Sheriff Elroy P. Labo was played by Claude Akins, an actor known for his role as trucker Sonny Pruitt in the Movin’ On television series.

In the first season, BJ drives a red and white 1978 Kenworth K-100 Aerodyne Cabover.

The original truck used in the series was found in an overgrown field in Georgia in 2007. A father and son from Wisconsin purchased the truck and restored it to the original specs seen in the show. The truck can still be seen on the road hauling the occasional load and makes appearances at truck shows from time to time.


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