The May/June 2019 issue of Vintage Truck magazine will soon be available on newsstands. Our cover story about a 1947 IH KB-2 pickup was written by B. Mitchell Carlson, with photos by Brad Bowling.
International had a good truck in the K series. Production started in 1940 for a planned introduction date of January 1941. By the end of 1941 more than 120,000 had been built—a record for IHC up to that point. In particular, the pickups did well in the market; with 21,823 half-ton K-1s, 11,232 3/4-ton K-2s, and 10,565 1-ton K-3s. The K series carried the United States through World War II on the home front with its industry-leading, insert-bearing, fully pressure-lubricated, 214ci, Green Diamond flathead 6-cylinder engine generating 82 gross horsepower (72 net) of grunt. Pickup trucks became available to civilian buyers once again on a limited basis by late summer of 1945, with 57 K-2s and 5,009 K-3s built. With the K-1s returning in 1946, International began readying a stop-gap upgrade of the K series to carry on until its all-new, post-war truck could be ready by the end of 1949.
Not without very little fanfare (unlike most auto industry introductions), the revised KB-series trucks were introduced in January 1947. International claimed it had made 95 changes between the K and the KB series pickups. It was obvious that the basic truck was not significantly changed, but a lot of details were. The most obvious change was a new grille, with a chromed bottom hood cap over stainless steel grille bars, featuring a wider winged “catwalk” at the bottom, enveloping the front of the fenders. After the gloomy war years of blackout trim, the new grille was a cheerful sight that mimicked contemporary auto industry trends. Also of note, International was now the only light-duty truck maker in the industry to have an exterior model badge, located just below the International badges on the sides of the hood. You didn’t have to guess if it was a half-ton or 3/4-ton; it proudly proclaimed KB-1 (half-ton) or KB-2 (3/4-ton) in gleaming chrome. It did not take Ford long to follow suit (in 1948), with all other domestic manufacturers except Studebaker following by 1957.
While the Green Diamond remained at 214 cubic inches of displacement, improved cylinder head flow and better metallurgy from the war were key parts of the unseen upgrades. More minute changes included deleting the “International” lettering that was printed on the center of the K-series dashboard and the relocation of the serial number/capacity plate from the interior kick panel to the front side of the cowl panel under the hood.
Not to say that the KBs were an instant success, but because of the changes and even more so because of a domestic market that clamored for new trucks to replace trucks that had worn out during the war, International set a new sales record of 148,700 trucks in 1947. John Hall of Bellefontaine, Ohio, owns one of 16,933 KB-2s produced in the U.S. during that watershed year (an additional 611 were assembled at IHC’s Chatham, Ontario, factory). Hall found his truck on the oldIHC.org website in 2011. It had spent most of its years on a farm near Owasso, Oklahoma. The truck’s second owner—the person listing it for sale—was considering making it into a rat rod. That was reason enough for Hall to step up and buy it, thereby becoming the third owner of this nearly complete pickup. (The only thing missing was the horn.)
To read more about our featured 1947 IH KB-2, pick up a copy of the May/June 2019 issue of Vintage Truck magazine!
Articles in this issue include:
The Neighbor’s Pickup: Walter Berg’s 1936 Dodge LC is frozen in time! By Loren Hoekema, Photos by Brad Bowling
Post-war Victory: John Hall’s 1947 IH KB-2 pickup By B.Mitchell Carlson, Photos by Brad Bowling
Renegade: Jeep’s first limited-edition sports package was a huge hit! By Patrick Foster
The Little Ford: Les Foster’s 1951 Thames E83W is a head-scratcher for most Americans! By Candace Brown
Letter from the Editor
Letters to the Editor
Chevy Talk: 1971 GMC Jimmy
For Ford Fans: 1964 Ford F-100
Delivery Designs: The 1929 Dover Mail Truck
Books in the Bed: Reviews by Jim Hinckley
Tech Tips: Rebuilding Chevrolet’s old-timey fuel pump
Aid for the Anxious Amateur: Radius Arms and Bushings Replacement
Granny Gear: Just an Idea and an Old Truck
Gallery: Photo courtesy Jill Richards