Vintage Truck of the Day: 1937 Kenworth D-89-H – The First Kenworth COE To Invade The Eastern Market

Today’s Vintage TODT comes via Shorpy, which means if you want even greater detail than you get by clicking on this image, click this to see it in its original full size splendor.  What you’re seeing in higher resolution than you’re likely to ever see again is a Kenworth D-89-H.

This was one of Kenworth’s first COE trucks, and because its long-nosed conventional trucks were generally too long for the length-restricted states east of the Rockies, this was the first to be sold in the Midwest, specifically to Werner Transportation, which was a pioneer in refrigerated trucking.

I even found an article (with not very good resolution) from 1937 that covers this first sale of two D-89-H’s to Werner, which was running 40 trucks between Minneapolis and Chicago. Their purchasing agent Morris Greenberg had some contact with a few Kenworth trucks that roamed as far east as Minneapolis, and was impressed by what he saw and heard. West Coast trucks were a breed unto themselves back then, designed for much longer hauls over the most difficult terrain and in climatic extremes. Greenberg concluded that West Coast trucks were some 10 years ahead of the typical East Coast trucks for long-haul trucking, and bought the first two Kenworths in the Midwest. Presumably, they worked out for Werner.

Here’s a clearer version of that shot.

Here are the specs for the D-89-H tractor. Diesel engines were not yet that common at the time in the East, but the long distances made them more popular out West, despite the lower power levels than the legendary Hall-Scott gas engines favored by some West Coast truckers, who were willing to pay for higher fuel costs in exchange for the faster speeds they enabled. But that was less of an issue in the Midwest.

Here’s a picture of one of Werner’s refrigerated trailers. The gas-powered refrigeration unit is located under the trailer. Soon they would be housed in a unit high at the front of the trailer.

This wasn’t Kenworth’s only COE at the time. The 346 was similar, but appears to be a bit longer, hence not as suitable in severe length-restricted states. Here’s a detailed history of early Kenworth COE’s, if that’s your thing.