Kenworth turns 90 this year, the truck manufacturer announced this week.
Harry W. Kent and Edgar K. Worthington incorporated the Gersix Motor Company in 1923 as Kenworth — a combination of their two names. The truck maker started out making 6-cylinder gasoline-powered truck in Seattle, and it built 78 in the first year. It has since built 900,000 trucks.
In its announcement, Kenworth said its “success and staying power in a competitive business can be traced back to a philosophy established early in the firm’s history. The goal was to build the right Kenworth truck for each customer’s application to get the job done…and build that truck to last. That philosophy, which continues to be true to this day, resulted in Kenworth establishing a solid reputation for its quality, innovative and durable trucks that are driven by state-of-the-art technology.”
Here’s a photo timeline of highlights from Kenworth’s 90 years:
1920s: A Kenworth production facility
1920s: Kenworth logger
1920s: Kenworth fleet showing “transition from solid to pneumatic tires and from open to enclosed cabs,” says Kenworth.
1933: Kenworth installs first diesel engine as standard equipment, proving to be a hit with customers because diesel was one-third the price of gasoline.
1936: Kenworth’s first sleeper truck
1947: Kenworth with separated sleeper
1959: Kenworth unveils tilt-forward hood for improved durability and weight reduction.
Early 1960s: Kenworth unveils W900 and K100.
1976: The Aerodyne raised-roof sleeper is introduced.
1978: Kenworth K100 moves space shuttle Enterprise during ground operations in Huntsville, Ala.
1986: T600 model released with aerodynamics in mind. “The radical sloped-nose design saves customers up to 22 percent on fuel compared to traditional conventions,” says Kenworth.
1986: T800 line is launched for on-off highway application. Seen here transporting a retired SR-71 in 1991 from Mojave Desert to Seattle.
1994: KW introduces its first medium-duty conventional, the T300, which has spawned several models since.
2007: T660 introduced, “refining the art of” aerodynamic on-highway trucks, says KW.
2012: Kenworth introduces T680 — the company’s most aerodynamic truck ever — and it won Truck of the Year honors from the American Truck Dealers.