The 1947-1949 International Harvester KB-1 & KB-2 trucks evolved from International's K-series pickup trucks introduced in the early 1940s, but old age didn't hinder its ability to work as hard as any postwar rival. The company built its first car in 1907 and its first truck two years later, and over the years, International Harvester's triple diamond logo became widely associated with tough, hard-working vehicles; in 1952, the company could still claim that over half the vehicles it ever built were still in service.
By 1940, International Harvester offered more than 50 different truck models, among them the new K-series pickup line. Typical of the era, the 'K' sported heavy domed roofs and pointed bonnets with faired in headlights, designs cues that were ahead of their time in comparison to their Chevy and Dodge counterparts. In total there were 42 models, a combination of 142 different wheelbase lengths and payload ratings, ranging from 1/2 ton to 3/4 ton.
After civilian production resumed in 1947, the K-series evolved into the KB, with only minor changes to the 1947-1949 International KB-2 pickup models, such as a widened lower grill.
Power for the KB was provided by the 'Green Diamond' straight six, a 214ci flathead engine producing 82bhp at 3400rpm and 160lbs/ft of torque at 1200rpm; while the peak-torque rpm seems low, consider that the KB idled at only 350 rpm. With typical undersquare bore/stroke dimensions and 6.3:1 compression, this was no high performance engine, but just as important was durablity and ease of maintenance, and that's what counted in a post-war marketplace that was still recovering from austerity.
The KB-series pickups were available on both 113 inch and 125 inch wheelbases, with axle ratios ranging from a tall 3.72:1 to more appropriate 4.88:1 and 5.11:1 gearing. Solid axles front and rear were supported by semi-elliptic leaf springs and Lovejoy lever-arm shock absorbers.
International Harvester stuck with this styling until 1950, which was not the most competitive decision in a market where rivals were shedding their prewar designs. Still, the company sold more than 122,000 of the 1/2-ton KB-1 pickups and 3/4-ton KB-2 pickups between 1947 and 1949, when the KB series was subsequently replaced by the L-Series.
One of the many variations of the KB truck was this lovely and super-rare woody wagon; only 500 were made and apparently fewer than a dozen are thought to remain. This particular example was the subject of a full restoration about 10 years ago; the Green Diamond engine and 'three on the tree' column shift are fully rebuilt and that gorgeous birds-eye maple woodwork is all-new.
With room for eight people on it's oxblood leather grain vinyl seats, grab the surfboards, picnic basket, head to the beach and soak up the quizzical glances when people realise it isn't a '40 Ford you're driving.