Solid Driver: 1949 International Harvester KB-3

What I love about so many classic pickups that we see here at Barn Finds is that as original survivors, they simply ooze character. That is the case with this 1949 International Harvester KB-3 Pickup. No attempt has been made to beautify the vehicle or to disguise the life that it has led. It wears its battle scars like a Badge of Honor, and its general condition leaves the next owner with the difficult choice of whether to restore it, or whether to drive and enjoy it as it currently stands. Located in Brunswick, Maine, you will find the Inter listed for sale here on Bring A Trailer. Bidding has now reached $5,600 for what is a great old 1-tonner.

The Pickup is finished in Dark Green, and while it wears some dings and dents, its condition is actually pretty decent. There is certainly nothing there that would require urgent attention. The frame carries a coating of surface corrosion, but actual penetrating rust appears to not be an issue in this area. There is some rust present in a few spots around the body, including the lower front fender on the driver’s side. There are also some cracks in the fenders, along with one in the floor. The current owner treated the Pickup to a coat of linseed oil, and that should prevent the surface corrosion that is visible from deteriorating any further. The window seals have all been replaced, while the wheels have been epoxy coated. Speaking of glass, the Inter does feature the rather cool wind out windshield. All of the external trim and chrome is present and looks to be in quite good condition.

Powering the KB-3 is a 214ci “Green Diamond” flathead 6-cylinder engine, which is backed by a 4-speed manual transmission. This engine produces 82hp, but more importantly, it also pumps out a healthy 160lbs/ft of torque at an incredibly low 1,200rpm. This makes it a very tractable vehicle, capable of hauling its rated 1-Ton load with relative ease. In recent times, the engine has received new gaskets, and the original carburetor has been rebuilt. In addition, new brakes have been fitted, along with an aluminum radiator. From an electrical standpoint, a new, period-correct wiring harness has been installed, along with a Powermaster self-regulating alternator. The result of this work is a Pickup that appears to run and drive quite nicely, as can be seen in the video at the bottom of this article.

The interior of the International is quite clean and tidy and really needs no work at present. The seat wears a new cover, while a new headliner has been installed. Helping to keep things pleasant on those colder days, a single-speed blower has also been installed. The painted surfaces inside the cab look to be pretty reasonable for a vehicle of this vintage. New window channels have been installed, but these make the windows a bit stiff to wind up and down. Whether it is or isn’t the cause, the passenger side window regulator is now stripped. The steering wheel is cracked, and could really benefit from a refresh, and if this was my Pickup, the only other thing that I might be tempted to do would be to install a rubber mat on the floor.

This really looks like it is a great old Pickup, and the International Harvester does offer potential buyers with something a little bit different to the Ford and GM products that tend to be more common. A few years ago, I would have been strongly advocating a full restoration for this old classic. However, I now look at these old Pickups and feel that they can be allowed to display their scars with pride. That’s why I would essentially leave this how it is. Of course, that is a purely personal preference, because your view might be completely different to mine.

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  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    Terrific old truck, as many of you well know that normally I’d be all a repaint. In this trucks case I think it should just get some paint touchups where ever bare metal is showing, at least for now. The lind seed oil is a waist of time as it will be gone after the first wash, also it would just be a dust and grime collector. This old corn binder might have been a great old work horse in its time but now it it just needs to be driven around on occasion. The only trips I’d want to take with it would be the kind where it’s on a trailer and being pulled by something much newer. I would think that 50 mph would be the end of the world this truck.

  2. Howard A Member

    Nice old truck. There’s a reason it was brought in on a trailer and they didn’t take it out of the parking lot. Did you notice the ride in a smooth parking lot? 50 will be about it, and THAT will seem like the world is coming apart. Aside from 1949 engineering, this is a great find with a plausible price, but it has limited use, as is, like all these. So, the antique suspension and brakes could support 60 mph, I suppose, be wandering like an old man at a flea market, but you have to get the revs down, or that motor will tire quickly. If one keeps the motor, and no reason why one shouldn’t, what would you do to bring the revs down and make it more user friendly? Modern 5 speeds require a lot of work, O/D still requires driveshaft work, I’d say, bolt a modern rear axle in, be about the easiest.

  3. FordGuy1972

    A nice vintage pickup overall in pretty good condition. I’d be inclined to take care of the myriad dings and dents and treat it to a fresh paint job. The limited top speed is an issue, though. You’d have to resolve that problem for highway use. Then the handling at higher speeds could be a problem, too. Best use is puttering around town if you want to leave the running gear as-is. I’d also be sure to add more brake lights out back; one little brake light just isn’t a good idea these days.

  4. Mark

    I bought a 1947 Chev 3100 5 window and spent about 3K making it reliable and roadworthy. I used it at my ranch to go into town for supplies and visit neighboring towns. Didn’t drive it over 45 and it was really sweet. Tons of comments and offers. I would be all over this one if I still had the ranch.

    This is period art, engineering and quiet the cool factor. Hope it goes to a good home.

  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    Ah, just close your eyes, lean back and listen to that congressional debate. No, wait, it’s a T-9 crashbox. Interesting how they aren’t nearly as noisy behind a six cyl. as compared to a Ford flathead V8. At least the crashbox accomplishes more than the aforementioned debate. Just load it up and drop it off at my place. I’d clean it up and use it for a spell. But I would probably give in and give it a respray. My wife would love any color I wanted, except green. The engine is actually supposed to be green (Green Diamond) and the truck could easily be red. And–I don’t have a problem keeping the drive train completely stock. Out west I wouldn’t be going much slower than the other old-timers heading to and from the coffee shop…

    • Ken Member

      I am so weary of the “it’s too slow” complaints. Why would anyone want to drive a truck like on the freeway anyway? I’d use it to get the groceries, or anything I buy from Lowe’s requiring a truck to haul it home. I’d enjoy it for what it is, and not complain about what it isn’t.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I guess I live in a region where there are still lots of 2-lane blacktops. A truck like this (maybe a little newer) is still a common sight, even on I-15. About 12 miles south of Sweetgrass you can head west toward Kevin, then on toward Santa Rita and Cutbank. You’re likely to encounter at least one truck that is 60+ years old on your trip. Head west to Browning and north to Duck Lake, or south to East Glacier and the Marias Pass. I‘ve been to Kalispell in my ‘49 Chevy (55 mph) and passed a few travellers in the Marias Pass. Yes, there’s always someone in an inverted porcupine (pri€k$ on the inside) that make trouble, but you still get that in your modern iron…

  6. Joe Average

    Great old truck. I had a ’49 Chevy 3100 216CID for several years. All original 6V truck. On the road it was topped out at 60 mph. Much happier at 45 mph.

    Safety, suspension and brakes wise – 45 is a much safer speed too.

    I’d love to have another one of these old trucks – Chevy, Ford, IH…

    Anywhere you go in one here you have to figure in an extra 20 minutes because somebody wants to stop you in the parking lot to tell you how their daddy had one just like it.

  7. Mike

    That truck should be painted Adarondac Green with black genders and running boards. It also should had a Knox tail board. I would love to own it but am in the hospital and can’t give it the care it needs. Don’t tart it up. It was and still is a work truck.

  8. Kirk West

    I drove a pre war K5 for about 15 years as my daily driver. Always had to double clutch it and no downshifting. Drove it from Denver to Tucson at 35 mph. Miss that old truck.

  9. James Turner

    There was an International truck almost exactly like this for sale in running condition with old style Creager spoke rims on it that was bought for $5,000 last year near me. It was fun watching/ Listening to the video. It looked like a very bumpy ride across a relatively smooth parking lot. I had to smile hearing those old gears turning in the gear box. Also when, As we used to say back in the day, Grind me a pound also. LOL

  10. TimM

    Really cool!! A great truck!!

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