Kenworth, which began as a maker of logging trucks in 1923, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Kenworth Truck Co. will spend the next 12 months celebrating its 100th anniversary — from its beginnings as a logging truck company that made diesel engines standard to a line-up that includes battery-powered electric trucks and could offer hydrogen-powered fuel cells.
The Paccar Inc. brand — Kenworth became part of Paccar in 1946 — has produced more than 1.3 million trucks in the U.S. and Canada with the KW badge on the grill. Harry W. Kent and Edgar K. Worthington incorporated the Gersix Motor Co. as Kenworth in 1923. The K in Kent and the W in Worthington formed the Kenworth bug that has evolved over the decades.
The small Seattle-based manufacturer produced 78 six-cylinder, gasoline-powered trucks in its first year. Since then, Kenworth has produced Class 5 to Class 8 models and super heavy-duty trucks, including the C500 6×6 with its gross combination weight rating of 1 million pounds. The list is short of truck manufacturers to reach the century mark:
• Gottlieb Daimler built the first truck in 1896, converting a horse-drawn cart.
• Autocar, known for its severe-duty and refuse trucks, came along a year later in Pittsburgh. It did not focus on trucks until exiting the car business in 1911.
• Mack Trucks was founded in 1900 by Jack and Gus Mack in Brooklyn, New York.
• Navistar, originally International Harvester, was born in 1902 in Chicago.
• Engine maker Cummins Inc. was founded in 1919 in Columbus, Indiana.
Kenworth was first among truck OEMs to offer a diesel engine as standard equipment in 1933. They grew in commercial popularity after World War II when the government snapped up every diesel it could find for the war effort.