Beautiful Restoration: 1949 International Harvester KB-1

We see quite a few pickup project vehicles here at Barn Finds, but this 1949 International Harvester KB-1 is a turn-key proposition that underwent a high-end restoration back in 2016. It doesn’t matter where you look on this vehicle, what you find is spotless presentation. It would perfectly suit someone who wants to enjoy the classic car experience immediately. The beauty here is that they can get to do this for a fraction of the money that was spent on the restoration work. The KB-1 is located in Polk City, Florida, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. You can drive this beauty away by handing the owner $24,500.

Anyone who has ever undertaken a classic vehicle restoration can tell you just how easy it can be to over-capitalize on a project. That is definitely the case with this vehicle. The restoration work was undertaken in 2016, and the owner holds receipts that verify that a mind-blowing $80,000 was spent returning the KB-1 to its current state. This was a full frame-off process, and the pickup has only clocked 2,000 miles since the work was completed. The panels are as straight as you would expect, with not a sign of a blemish. The 1949 KB-1 was available in six exterior colors, and this one is finished in its original Red. Once again, there is nothing here to fault, because the paint shines beautifully. The bed doesn’t have a mark on it, while the underside is spotless. All of the correct chrome and trim pieces are present, and as is the case with the glass, there are no problems with any of it.

The 1949 KB-1 came outfitted with a 214ci flathead six-cylinder engine. While the tag on the vehicle quotes a power output of 73hp, contemporary sales and servicing literature that I have located quote 82.4hp as the output figure. Buyers could specify either a 3-speed or a 4-speed manual transmission. The 4-speed offered a slight improvement in versatility, but the 3-speed was a more user-friendly transmission. This KB-1 features the 3-speed unit, which is probably a bonus for the buyer. Given the vehicle’s overall condition, I can’t see anyone using this classic for its original purpose. Therefore, the lack of an extra gear ratio shouldn’t be that important. The owner states that the pickup starts easily every time and that it runs and drives nicely. There are no fluid leaks, the brakes work well, and the transmission shifts smoothly.

You didn’t live life in the lap of luxury in a KB-1, because this was a vehicle that was designed to be a workhorse. There were no upholstered door trims, no padding on the dash, and no carpet on the floors. There was plenty of painted steel, a rubber floor mat, and Naugahyde upholstery on the seat. One interesting characteristic of the KB-1 was the seat cover. It didn’t matter what exterior paint color you ordered, there was only the green upholstery available. It does look slightly odd when paired with this bright red paint, but I can’t say that I mind it. Once again, there is not much here to criticize. The interior presents as well as it would have when the vehicle rolled off the production line. The only fault that the owner identifies is an inaccurate fuel gauge. Otherwise, everything is said to work as it should.

Taking on a frame-off restoration is not something to be tackled by the faint-hearted. It can be an overwhelming process, and the classic car world is littered with individuals who have learned how quickly costs can spiral out of control. That would seem to be the case with this 1949 International Harvester KB-1. However, one person’s loss will potentially be another one’s gain. The asking price for this classic is about in the ballpark for what you might pay for a good example, but it is less than ⅓ of the original cost of the restoration work. That has to make it a pickup that is worth a serious look.

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  1. Howard A Member

    Mama Mia, that’s a nice truck. These trucks usually only looked like this once, when they came off the car hauler. Unlike today, these were more of a machine than transportation, like the tractor or combine. It was used, usually the worst jobs, and put back in the shed until next time it was needed, unless, of course, the kids took it on a joy ride to see how fast they could go, when the folks went to town. Unwashed, unloved, and many times unmaintained, but they chugged on for years. IDK, as nice as it is, you going to spend $25g’s for something state of the art for 1949? Driving these is not a pleasant experience and anyone thinking of a restoration, take this poor persons plight to heart, can you really afford to take $50 grand in the shorts? That never ceases to amaze me.

    Like 7
  2. Snotty Member

    Last yr. of this amazing body style for International. Well worth the coin. Great for parades and old-timey farm shows, and such but doubt it would be practical in today’s traffic.

    Like 1
  3. lc

    Now at $22,500 – If this is on your bucket list and you can pop for it, have at it it PDQ. No way you could restore one at this price. I’m sure an offer might expedite the acquisition processes.

    Like 1
  4. luke arnott Member

    Top end 40 mph,and it has split rim wheels!

    Like 2
    • BR

      And so? Wheels are not the Firestone RH5° widow makers.

  5. BR

    Beautiful! Just beautiful! And one of the reasons it looks so beautiful is because it doesn’t have those extremely horrid looking wide whitewall tires. Shows the owner has some taste.

    Like 6
  6. Bob Roller

    There was a lumber yard near me in WVa and they had several of these trucks as well as some bigger ones including a log loader.Internationals and Diamond T.Not common then and certainly not now.

    Like 2
  7. Chris Londish Member

    Had a look at this one on Ebay, and a supposed $80000 restore detail seemed to go out the window, why would you not paint the drive train and then show all of the random receipts nice but still for that sort of money?

  8. BR

    International trucks had a discerning clientele.

    Like 1
  9. Paul Root

    My Mountain Bike is a former racers bike who was sponsored. The bike was repainted in IH colors and is labed as a McCormick Farmall. The head tube has the IH logo on it.

    It would look SO good in the bed of this pickup.

    Like 3
  10. Jack Hammer

    Gotta sandblast that red paint off of those bed straiks.

    Like 2
  11. Richard Van Dyke Sr Member

    The bed stakes are stained not painted. And this is one beautiful truck.

  12. geomechs geomechs Member

    I always liked old Binders. It’s funny how a lot of people refer to old International trucks as basic utilitarian workhorses. The realities of the whole thing is that NONE of the trucks in that era were fancy, except maybe a Hudson. Fords and Internationals had a green interior regardless of what color the exterior was. GM was a shade of pewter and (I think) Dodges (headliner and seats) were a slate-gray. However, if you’re restoring an International or a Ford you can get new headliners in brown, black, gray, off-white and, yes, forest green. Heaters were a dealer-installed option for Fords and Binders. I’m not sure about Chevy or Dodge. I guess they never thought it could get cold in places like Arizona. I find it interesting how so many restorers of old Internationals paint them good old #50 Binder Red when there were a lot of options. Of course red is a lot better than that ugly forest green that ALL of the truck builders used back then…

    Like 1

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