100 years of Kenworths
For some reason the 100-year anniversary of Kenworth Trucks wasn’t celebrated on March 2, 2023 by Paccar Australia – maybe they’re saving the party for the forthcoming Brisbane Truck Show in May 2023.
In the USA there was plenty of fuss, including the release of two new Anniversary models.
Although the ‘KW’ moniker wasn’t applied to trucks before 1923, the Kenworth story began in 1912, in Seattle, Washington, where brothers George T and Louis Gerlinger Jr operated a car and truck dealership known as Gerlinger Motor Car Works.
In 1914 they built their own-design truck with a more powerful six-cylinder engine than the typical fours that were available. It also had a cab with steel, not wood, framing.
The ‘Gersix’ – an abbreviation of the brothers’ surname plus ‘six’ – was introduced in 1915 and proved ideal for logging in the rugged Northwest.
In 1916 the company moved to Tacoma, in Washington State and attracted the attention of businessman Edgar K Worthington. In 1917, Worthington and his business partner, Captain Frederick Kent, bought the business.
In 1923 Worthington and Kent’s son Harry reincorporated the business in Seattle as the Kenworth Motor Truck Company, using a contraction of their surnames, as befitted the heirs of the ‘Gersix’. In the following year the company sold 80 trucks.
From the outset Kenworths were custom-built, incorporating individual customer’s requirements where possible and that pattern continues today.
You can read our detailed history of Kenworth in the Truck Brands section of this website.