by Jim Park
George Kirkham says this 1949 KBS7 is the finest truck restoration he’s ever seen. Kirkham owns the truck now, and it’s part of an extensive collection of restored International trucks, housed at his dealership, Southland International Trucks Ltd. in Lethbridge, Alta. He bought the truck from Robert Spraakman of Edmonton – the guy who restored it as a hobby project – after seeing it on display at a show in Leduc. Spraakman did such a good job that even the warning labels and decals that would have come with the truck have been replaced.
The cab and chassis are mostly original, but there are a few new parts, as well. The freight box – known as a hoop-tarpped freight-box – was built from scratch to original spec’s. The engine is an immaculately restored International 269-cu-in. Blue Diamond gas job that produced a solid 100 hp and 222 lb ft of torque. It’s mated to a 5-speed gearbox with a 2-speed vacuum-shifted rear axle.
The truck comes from Montana, where it was owned by a farmer. Trucks like this saw extensive service in Canada’s North, especially during construction of the Mackenzie Highway. This truck was built at International’s Chatham, Ont. plant, and according to the original spec sheet, was shipped to the customer complete with a 4.5-ton hydraulic jack. The chrome-plated flip-out windshield trim and the dome light were optional. What does that say about how times have changed?