The Kenworth Pickup That Nearly Died Of Neglect

Our recent exploration of converting pickups into semis and vice versa led us to ask one reader for his recollections of this: Kenworth's factory-built pickup, which was nearly destroyed in a feud.


In the early 1970s, Kenworth chief Bill Gross decided to build a pickup truck as a company toy. Company chairman Chuck Pigott decided the truck would make a nice parting gift to retiring board member and longtime Kenworth exec Murray Aitken. The truck was given to Aitken on a lifetime loan, but Aitken and Gross were supposedly at such odds that Aitken simply parked the truck and let it deteriorate for years. After Aitken's death in 1988, Kenworth restored the pickup.


Dan Hemenway, who shared these photos of the truck with us, got behind the wheel:

I drove it a couple of times, once from the KW plant on East Marginal Way S. in south Seattle to the PACCAR parts warehouse, just south of the KW plant in Renton. Truckers would pull up along side and mouth "Is that for sale?" while cranking in about 10 degrees of left into the steering wheel. Twice I was driven off the inside lane onto the shoulder to avoid being crashed. People look at it and turn right into you.


A few years after building the first pickup, Kenworth built another, this one a forerunner of the workhorse W300 semi chassis. The original Kenworth can be seen at the annual open house of the PACCAR Technical Center in Marysville, Wash.

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