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International made classic workhorse trucks back in the day

TAGS: Trucks
Tom J. Bechman green 1948 International Harvester KB-5 truck
OLD WORKHORSE: This faithful old truck, an International Harvester KB-5, was displayed at a show in Putnam County, Ind.
Truck Treasures: This 1948 KB-5 International Harvester truck is ready to work.

The 1948 International Harvester KB-5 truck with a flatbed would have caught anyone’s eye, sitting in a prime location at the Putnam County Fairgrounds on a sunny Saturday this fall. Keith and Janet Hutcheson, Reelsville, Ind., who own the truck, brough it there to exhibit it as part of the Putnam County Antique Tractor and Machinery Association’s first annual show. The truck was an instant attention-grabber.

Complete with a 1948 Indiana license plate still showing on the front grill, the vehicle represents a day when International Harvester turned out heavy-duty work trucks. You may think of the Scout, which came later, and maybe you’ve seen an International Travelall, which looks like an early version of today’s sport utility vehicles, but it was trucks like the KB-5 that helped build the company’s solid reputation for quality and durability.

According to Wikipedia, citing respected experts on International Harvester trucks, the KB Series trucks were produced from 1947 to 1949. The number following the letters designated the size of truck. KB-1 and KB-2 were pickups, with the KB-5 being a large truck suited for bigger loads.

International introduced the K Series in 1940. Production was interrupted by World War II. After the KB Series debuted in 1947, 122,000 KB-1 and KB-2 trucks alone were sold before production ended and transitioned to the L Series.

The main difference between K and KB models, at least in appearance, is the widened lower grill on KB models. Some people thought it made the truck look like it had wings. The KB Series, including the KB-5, still had a pre-war look in a post-war time, but durability and an economical price tag made these trucks popular.

Comments? Email tom.bechman@farmprogress.com.

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