'B.J. and the Bear' truck still delivers

By Kimberely Lennard, Land Line staff writer | 10/4/2012

Although the television show “B.J. and the Bear” only ran from 1978 to 1981, the truck behind the show remains a show-stopper over 30 years later.

OOIDA headquarters was abuzz on Thursday when Life Member Craig Sagehorn from Sparta, WI, stopped by in his famous 1980 Kenworth cabover, one of the trucks driven by character B.J. McKay in the TV show.

Photo by Kimberely Lennard

One of the 1980 Kenworth cabover trucks used in the TV series “B.J. and the Bear

Craig and his son, Paul Sagehorn, bought the truck from a man in Douglasville, GA, in 2007 and rebuilt it. They took it completely apart and sandblasted it. While restoring the truck, Paul found the inscription “BJ and the Bear by WS” under a bunch of rust where the fifth wheel was welded.

Craig drives it mostly for local hauls of about a hundred miles, although he told “Land Line Now” he left Wisconsin about three weeks and 7,000 miles ago, hauling potatoes to Miami, FL; liquid eggs to San Antonio, TX; and rice to Boise, ID. He was headed to Raleigh, NC, to deliver potatoes and onions when he visited OOIDA in Grain Valley, MO, and will run another 5,000 miles before he sees Wisconsin again.

It’s not uncommon for people to approach Craig and shake his hand and thank him for saving history.

“We didn’t go at it with that attitude. It’s just a really neat truck,” Craig said. His son watched the show as a kid and at 30 years old decided he wanted one.

The Sagehorns originally had a 1984 Kenworth Aerodyne they painted to look like the “B.J. McKay” truck. They bought that truck in 1999 and sold it in 2008 after they found the “real” truck.

The 1980 Kenworth is from the 1981 season of the show, according to Craig. They found it on the Internet and called the owner, who wasn’t actually looking to sell the truck, Paul told Land Line. They made an offer and are the fifth owners of the truck.

Photo by Kimberely Lennard

OOIDA Life Member Craig Sagehorn striking the “B.J. McKay” pose

“Anybody that’s ever seen the show knows the truck instantly,” Craig said. He added that four years ago a guy got on the CB and sang the “BJ and the Bear” theme song when he passed by.

Greg Evigan, aka B.J., has joined the Sagehorns at several truck shows and Craig says people tell Evigan they drive a truck because of that show. “Greg never had an inkling initially of what impact that show had on kids that age.”

Craig hasn’t forgotten about “Bear” either, although his chimpanzee travel companion is of the stuffed variety.

See more photos on Land Line’s Facebook page here.

Reed Black, “Land Line Now” staff reporter, contributed to this story.