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Kenworth History
1917 - 1935 1936 - 1944 1945 - 1965 1966 - 1975 1976 - 2001
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On A Roll�1945
With war production winding down, Kenworth still managed to produce 427 commercial vehicles and 484 military units in 1945.

During this time, Hawaiian plantations became large Kenworth customers, ordering specially designed trucks to transport sugar cane. Overall, 1946 proved to be a banner year with the completion of 705 trucks�a peacetime record. In an effort to consolidate its business, Kenworth brought all manufacturing back to Seattle and opened a new facility.

By 1950, Kenworth's distribution had grown to 27 locations outside the contiguous United States, and foreign sales accounted for 40 percent of total sales.

Still dedicated to custom trucks, Kenworth had more than 30 different models operating in almost every state west of the Mississippi.

Unconventional Trucks Drive Sales�1951-1955
The year 1951 marked the time when Kenworth "struck oil." The company designed the Model 853 for the Arabian American Oil Co. (ARAMCO). The truck was so successful that eventually 1,700 were ordered. Everywhere you looked, Kenworths were at oil sites, playing a major role in the development of the Middle Eastern oil reserves.

While the 853 was moving over sand in the desert, Kenworth developed the Model 801, which was designed to move earth in America. The 11.0 cubic yard capacity vehicles proved to be rugged and powerful.

By 1952, trucks were hauling 16 percent of all land-moved freight, an indication of steady growth and increased competition with the railroads.

Further expansion into Canada occurred in 1955 when production began in Burnaby, British Columbia. Canadian Kenworth Limited was formed, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pacific Car and Foundry.

During the same year, Kenworth launched a radical new line of trucks which featured the cab beside the engine. The new design was an instant hit. Its lighter weight allowed an additional half ton of cargo. In addition, the new truck provided driver visibility far greater than any other truck on the road.

Kenworth "Division" Welcomes New Trucks�1956-1958
Kenworth's existence as an independent corporation ended in 1956 when Pacific Car and Foundry dissolved the independent charter. Kenworth officially became Kenworth Motor Truck Company, a division of Pacific Car and Foundry. Kenworth's custom philosophy and dedication to quality remained intact.

Hot on the heels of the reorganization came the announcement of the new Model 900 series. This new truck featured a new frame design with dropped front section, which shortened and lightened the chassis.

A fleet of 923s were used in a quest for oil in the northern Yukon Valley. More than 3,000 tons of equipment and supplies were required to get to the site traveling over 385 miles of ice and tundra.

When construction was complete (path bulldozed) "White Pass and Yukon Route" Kenworths took over. Powered by Cummins NH 200 diesels with compression brakes, they worked around the clock, never shutting off the engines in the subzero cold, which often reached minus 60 degrees. Low temperatures had no noticeable effect on performance, and no major engine breakdown occurred during the entire construction and freight operation. And they did work hard. The collapse of fresh surface glacial ice would sometimes drop the tractor into ice and water four feet deep. The application of power under those conditions was extremely hard on the running gear and powertrain. Glaciers also played havoc with bumpers and fiberglass fenders. An assessment of performance revealed that the only major problems were broken springs and dirty fuel filters (due to refueling from 46-gallon drums).

The following year, 1957, Kenworth delivered a full-tilt COE cab, which enabled the engine and transmission to be easily serviced. This marked an important step in Kenworth's goal of complete serviceability for its products.

Kenworth Builds Plants and Offers Two New Models�1959-1965
Expansion in 1959 came once again to Kenworth, this time south of the border. With new Mexican regulations overseeing imports, production facilities were built to handle the large post-war Mexican market.

In 1961, two new models were introduced by Kenworth: the W900 conventional (W for Worthington) which provided larger cabs and a redesigned instrument panel; and the K100 (K for Kent) cabover which was designed for maximizing cargo within the overall length restrictions imposed by eastern state regulations.

The new trucks became very popular, making production expansion capabilities imperative. In 1964, a new plant was developed and opened in Kansas City, Missouri. By the end of the year, the company produced 2,037 trucks, a new Kenworth record.