This post-war International Harvester panel truck features a fetching two-tone paint job, classic styling, and loads of history.

The Truck Guys

1947 International KB-1 -

1947 International KB-1 – |  Shop International Harvester KB-1 on

In a business where the most successful companies play toward the median buyer with mass market offerings, there has aways been the opportunity for specialization to help niche companies compete. International Harvester was one such company that chose specialization as their path to success.

As the name suggests, International Harvester produced tractors and farm equipment in addition to light duty and commercial trucks from 1902 to 1985. Those commercial trucks were the basis for everything from buses, dump trucks, and firetrucks to semis. Their light duty trucks date back to 1907 with their Model A Auto Wagon. Over the years, their trucks earned a reputation for simplicity and durability that made them a favorite of fleet owners and farmers alike. Today’s Cool Car Find is a post-war KB-Series panel truck from 1947 and offers a notable example of International Harvester’s unique charms.


1941 International Harvester K-1 truck - Uncle Doug's Hot Rod Garage on YouTube
1941 International Harvester K-1 truck - Uncle Doug's Hot Rod Garage on YouTube

The International Harvester K-Series debuted in 1940 and spanned from light duty trucks like the ½-ton K-1 and ¾-ton K-2 to their heavy duty line that spanned from the K-5 through the K-14 (skipping K-9 and K-13). There was little to differentiate the K-1 and K-2 aside from a more robust suspension on the K-2. Both were offered with either a 113-inch or 125-inch wheelbase. The K-3 and K-4 light duty trucks added heftier frames and more powerful brakes.

The K-1 and K-2 ran a simple, reliable “Green Diamond” 214 cu-in flathead straight-six. The engine made 82 horsepower and 160 lb-ft of torque. The interior of the trucks was spartan but did offer a glovebox and an adjustable bench seat.

1949 International Harvester KB5 -
1949 International Harvester KB5 -

Like every other major automaker, International Harvester’s output was paused during WWII. Unlike other carmakers, they did not rush out a new version of their pickups to compete with the likes of Ford’s F-Series and the Chevy 3100. The post-war KB-Series did receive a few minor cosmetic changes. These included chrome “wings” added to the side of the grille, a wrap-around chrome piece to the hood, chrome lettering, and a new hood ornament.

International Harvester introduced their short-lived L-Series trucks in the fall of 1949, which was quickly succeeded by the R- and S-Series trucks of the 1950s.

This Cool Car

1947 International KB-1 -

1947 International KB-1 – |  Shop International Harvester KB-1 on

In the 1940s, International Harvester produced some 40 different truck variants, including a panel truck. Just such a panel truck happens to be our Cool Car Find, a 1947 model finished in white and black. This truck has a 113-inch wheelbase, white wall tires, a three-speed manual transmission, and subtle red pin-striping to match the International Harvester badging. Because International Harvester chose to not update the K-Series until late 1949, this 1947 example retained Art Deco styling best exemplified by its grille work with towering 16 crossbars. The original “Green Diamond” engine is in good running order and the odometer shows a scant 15,601 miles, though true mileage is unknown.

If you are into collecting classic cars (or you happen to be procuring vehicles for Hollywood’s next neo-film noir), this International Harvester panel truck could be the perfect buy.

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Chris Kaiser

With two decades of writing experience and five years of creating advertising materials for car dealerships across the U.S., Chris Kaiser explores and documents the car world’s latest innovations, unique subcultures, and era-defining classics. Armed with a Master's Degree in English from the University of South Dakota, Chris left an academic career to return to writing full-time. He is passionate about covering all aspects of the continuing evolution of personal transportation, but he specializes in automotive history, industry news, and car buying advice.

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