Heavy Duties: Kenworth K100 Cabover

First things first: belated E-day wishes everyone! Yesterday was September 4, which in 1957 saw Edsels finally arrive in 1300 showrooms across the USA. Anyhow… if I take over ten photos of something, it means I like it a lot. And here’s got to be one of the best “cheapo” finds ever. I was scouring one of my local antique stores (junk store might be more appropriate) and underneath fifty years of dust and grime, in a box of mostly non-salvageable toy cars, was a pretty good looking Matchbox Kenworth Cabover. A bit more searching, and I dug up a Matchbox low bed trailer which could well be its match… in fact, I’m certain of it. The wheels are the same. I can’t tell without doubt if they were originally mated, but they sure are now, and what a find for less than £1!

The Truck: Kenworth

Trucks aren’t my speciality, but I have my three favourite American brands. Top of the list is probably Peterbilt, followed by Kenworth, then Mack. That isn’t anything to do with build quality, history, or customer satisfaction. That’s how I rate them on the way they look. Oh, and Peterbilt is from Texas, so that gets bonus points.

The fact Kenworth’s slogan seems to be “The World’s Best” could hint to why I think they’re pretty good. Being a subsidiary of Paccar is probably what puts it on equal to Peterbilt.

It’s probably worth mentioning (from what little I know) that Kenworth was founded in Portland, Oregon, in 1912, by brothers George and Louis Gerlinger, as Gerlinger Motor Car Works. They also made some pretty cool largely forgotten school buses in the 1950s.

The Model: Matchbox Kenworth Cabover Aerodyne

The fact that both the cab and the low bed trailer have 1981 printed on their base leads me to believe they were and are  meant to be.

In fact, a bit of internet digging turned up an identical set to mine carrying a yacht under the “super rigs” series. So I’m convinced that was its origin.

It would have been nice to have the yacht, but looking at it, it looked rather unrealistic. And I doubt I would have gotten it so cheap had it been in a better condition. The lack of appendage doesn’t affect its road presence, if you ask me, and it means I get to do stuff like this:

Let it be known that this Volvo 480 ES and a shell gas pump were thrown in for a grand price of £1.

I’ve already mentioned that, judging from the number of photographs I’ve already taken of this thing, it’s already a firm favourite of mine. While my boyfriend was asking if I was considering restoration, I like the “patina” look, and I think it works well with a storyline of being a long-lived car transporter. I think this guy’s going to have some valuable loads on his back in the years to come…


First, the cab. As you can see, it isn’t the regular Matchbox scale. If it was, you couldn’t really call it a Matchbox. It’s 1:90, which is probably quite common for vehicles of its size. I think it’s still a bigger scale than the more recent fire trucks Mattel has been delivering, but that isn’t to say they haven’t done a good job with those. It’s a little smaller than these Maisto “Highway Haulers” But that could be a reflection of the actual truck size.


I really love the detail to the back of the cab, with the exhaust system. It adds a nice bit of variety with the chrome. The six wheels are in good condition, and despite its age, the four at the rear of the cab are nice and straight, something I haven’t seen often.


I really love that imposing front grille, and when compared to a regular car like this Majorette Peugeot, it still looks a good size on the road despite the scale differences. It’s a little disappointing to see there’s no interior piece to the cab, but the amber glass hides that quite well. The model is also pretty heavy anyway, being made with both a metal body and base, so it doesn’t let you down there.


Here’s another photo of the cab with an older Matchbox Ford Cortina. You can see the scale difference clearly, but it really doesn’t matter to me. I like that Matchbox makes their car uniform to a box size, as it means you can handle them all pretty much the same (which makes designing a diorama easier too!) but its height really does give it road presence.


The trailer I think is interesting too, as it comes with a slot which seems pretty suited to other cars. This Ford fits in nicely, but I think the Lesney Vauxhall Cresta was meant for it:


With the whole rig set up, it really looks great. The trailer sits nice and straight and the wheels are aligned properly even after all these years, and a little wear and tear never hurt a model too bad. I’ve already mentioned I like the worn out look of the truck.


Size-wise, you can see the scale difference better in the length. I really doubt a sedan and caravan would be this big compared to a Kenworth and low bed like this, but who cares. It’s hugely impractical to consider a toy any bigger… besides, the scale is really tasteful in my opinion.


Highlights of the low-bed include details such as a winch on the front, and “Long Vehicle” warning on the back, with some other details… I think there’s a license plate on the back.


It’s hard to see, but the lettering on the rear reads (from left to right): TIR / LONG VEHICLE / SPD 110. If anyone knows what it means, get in touch! My guess would be TLR stands for Trailer, and the SPD 110 is a reference to its top speed being 110 km/h, or around 68mph.


At first I thought the sleeper part of the cab was a little bit ugly (I’m more a fan of that swept-back hairdo most trucks sport) but it’s grown on me, like how a spider wouldn’t look right without those secondary eyes.


It was as though Matchbox knew I was going to build my diorama. The full rig manages to fit somewhat comfortably with its butt inside the garage. Very cool. I really like that two-tone blue stripe around the cab.


I mentioned before that it was made in 1981. Did you also know it was made in Macau? (That’s now Hong Kong, I believe). So I’m guessing this was in that transition to being made in China.


It doesn’t fit in too well with the city, but on a country road, it’s a great looking long distance hauler.


Here it is compared to a Siku MAN truck. Siku tend to put a lot of detail into their models, particularly the German brands – and I think the Kenworth still manages to give it a run for its money. You can tell I like trucks, even if I don’t collect them all that often.


Here they are compared to a smaller Majorette Ford tanker truck.


Oh, and around the same time I picked up this great looking Iso Grifo too. Here it is next to the gas pump I got with the Kenworth and the Volvo. I think the Iso is a really great looking car.

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Tropical Trucking at its finest.


Featured Image: Kenworth Cabover by raymondclarkeimages. Original


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