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Kenworth Truck Company
Division of PACCAR
HeadquartersKirkland, Washington
United States
ProductsSee listing
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Kenworth Truck Company
Division of PACCAR
HeadquartersKirkland, Washington
United States
ProductsSee listing

Kenworth is an American manufacturer of medium and heavy-duty Class 8 trucks based in Kirkland, Washington, United States, a suburb of Seattle, Washington. It is a subsidiary of PACCAR, and is also a former manufacturer of transit buses and school buses.


Kenworth began its history in Portland, Oregon. In 1912, the company was founded by brothers George T. and Louis Gerlinger, Jr. as a car and truck dealership known as Gerlinger Motor Car Works. In 1914, they decided to build their own truck with a more powerful inline six-cylinder engine. This was the first ever put into a commercial truck. The Gersix, as it was known, unveiled in 1915, was framed in structural steel, which along with its power, made the truck ideal for the rugged Northwest,[1] where it was used for logging.[2] In 1916 the Gerlinger Motor Car Company moved to Tacoma, Washington. Seattle businessman Edgar K. Worthington was managing his mother's commercial building, where Gerlinger became a tenant, and became intrigued by the Gerlinger company. Worthington's tenant was doing quite well, or so it seemed, and the Gersix became a popular fixture in the Northwest.[3] In 1917 Worthington and his business partner Captain Frederick Kent bought the Gerlinger business, renaming it the Gersix Motor Co.[3]

In 1919 Kent retired from the business, and his son Harry Kent became Worthington's new partner.[3] In 1922, Gersix made 53 trucks at its factory on Fairview Avenue at Valley Street. Under the new name, the company moved to 506 Mercer Street and later to 1263 Mercer Street. Trucks and motor coaches were assembled in individual bays rather than on a conventional assembly line.[4] In 1923 Kent and Worthington reincorporated the business as the Kenworth Motor Truck Company. The name was a combination of the two names "Ken" and "Worth", the same as the surname "Kenworth". In 1926 they started making buses, and in 1933 Kenworth was the first American company to offer diesel engines as standard in their trucks.[3] In 1945 Kenworth was bought by The Pacific Car and Foundry Company.

In the 1989 James Bond movie Licence to Kill, James Bond drives a Kenworth Semi-truck as he duels drug dealer Franz Sanchez. In Licence to Kill, the producers had 6 Kenworth Trucks rigged for stunt work, but they only used one for the stunt which 007 raised the front of truck to protect himself from a fire.

Current models[edit]

United States/Canada[edit]

Some popular North American Kenworth models include the T600B, T800B, W900, T680, T700 (replaces T2000 model)), and T2000. In 2007, Paccar introduced the T660, a more aerodynamic version of the T600.[citation needed]

Current products[edit]

Kenworth T2000 tractor-trailer

As of January 2013, Kenworth's US product line includes:

Kenworth T800W Tractor with End Dump Trailer
Class 8 Conventional
2013 Kenworth T700 tractor-trailer
Medium-Duty Conventional (Baby 8 / Heavy 7 series)
Heavy-Duty/Vocational Conventional & Cabover

Discontinued products[edit]

Class 8 Conventional[citation needed]
Cabovers[citation needed]


In the early 2000s Kenworth (KW) introduced to Mexico the T604, based on the Australian T604 with a few modifications, mostly in the hood.[citation needed]


Australian Kenworth T401

Australian models are assembled at Kenworth's Bayswater facility in Victoria, Australia. Popular models include the T600, T604, T650, W925, T900, T904, T908, T950, T350,T400/ T401/404S/T404ST/404SAR, K124, K100E, K100G, K104G, K104B, (COE) and C500, C510, C540. With the T range being the Bonneted Models and the C for Heavy Haulage, Mine, Off road and Road Train use and the K range being the Cab over models. Several "Twin Steer" Models were produced through the end of the 20th Century. Most notably was the K100E Twin Steer.

Kenworth Australia have started building the new range of trucks tying in their 2008 Release with the model range being the '08 Series'. This includes the following conventional (bonneted) models; in approximate order of smallest to largest: the T358/A, T408SAR, T408, T608, T658, T908, C508, C510. The only Cabover truck built is the K108, which is very popular in the B-Double market segment owing to its shorter length.[citation needed]

Kenworth T650, used as a heavy vehicle tow truck

In 2011 Kenworth Australia releases the next model range this includes the K200 T609 T409 T403 T409SAR T359 T659 T909 and the C509.[citation needed]

Bus industry[edit]


BU series[edit]

KHC series[edit]



K & W series[edit]

T & C series[edit]

A retired 1955 Kenworth T126 "Pacific School Coach", seen here in Cathlamet, Washington. Compare with image below, of same bus, taken after restoration has commenced.

Bus industry legacy[edit]

A retired 1955 Kenworth T-216 "Pacific School Coach" formerly from Cathlamet, Washington, is seen here in a photo taken after restoration has commenced. Compare with above image, of same bus, taken in February, 2007.

Kenworth's role in the transit and school bus industry has largely been forgotten. This is likely due to a number of factors including Kenworth's current status as a leading manufacturer of Class 8 heavy-duty semi trucks, and the fact that hardly any examples of Kenworth-built buses exist today (with exception of a few surviving model CT-73 "Pacific School Coach" buses and one remaining "Bruck").

In light of that fact, and having been a major builder of transit and school buses, interest in the history and preservation of the Pacific School Coach (as well as Kenworth's involvement in the transit and bus industry as a whole) has increased in recent years, especially in the Pacific Northwest where Kenworth's buses were most commonly found. The Gillig Transit Coach / Pacific SchoolCoach Online Museum, a website focusing on preserving Gillig's line of earlier-built school buses, was expanded shortly after its 2001 launch to include the history of the Kenworth-Pacific SchoolCoach. It has since expanded even further to include the entire history of Kenworth's involvement in the public transportation industry, as well as their local dominance in the school bus industry throughout the 1950s.

In 2006, at the American Truck Historical Society's 11th Annual Truck Show at the Mason County Fairgrounds in Shelton, WA, an historical society dedicated to preserving the Gillig Transit Coach and Kenworth-Pacific School Coach was officially dedicated.[citation needed]


The brand claims to maintain an image of high quality, it has won five of six JD Power Awards in 2005, and was a clear sweep in the 2007 J.D. Power Awards for Heavy Duty Truck Product Satisfaction.[10][full citation needed]


Kenworth currently has manufacturing plants in:[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Starner, D. Earl. A Pictorial History of the Straddle Carrier, 1988. 48p.
  2. ^ Great Trucks
  3. ^ a b c d Kenworth History - at
  4. ^
  5. ^ Pacific Photos - at Gillig Coaches[dead link]
  6. ^ Murray, Alan (2000). World Trolleybus Encyclopaedia, p. 123. Yateley, Hampshire, UK: Trolleybooks. ISBN 0-904235-18-1.
  7. ^ Sebree, Mac; and Ward, Paul (1973). Transit's Stepchild: The Trolley Coach, p. 217. Los Angeles: Interurbans. LCCN 73-84356.
  8. ^ KW Bruck - at Gillig Coaches[dead link]
  9. ^ Pacific Trivia - at Gillig Coaches[dead link]
  10. ^ [1]

External links[edit]