Kenworth began its history in Portland, Oregon. In 1912, the company was founded by brothers George T. and Louis Gerlinger, Jr. as a car and truck dealership known as Gerlinger Motor Car Works. In 1914, they decided to build their own truck with a more powerful inline six-cylinder engine. This was the first ever put into a commercial truck. The Gersix, as it was known, unveiled in 1915, was framed in structural steel, which along with its power, made the truck ideal for the rugged Northwest,where it was used for logging. In 1916 the Gerlinger Motor Car Company moved to Tacoma, Washington.Seattle businessman Edgar K. Worthington was managing his mother’s commercial building, where Gerlinger became a tenant, and became intrigued by the Gerlinger company. Worthington’s tenant was doing quite well, or so it seemed, and the Gersix became a popular fixture in the Northwest. In 1917 Worthington and his business partner Captain Frederick Kent bought the Gerlinger business, renaming it the Gersix Motor Co.
In 1919 Kent retired from the business, and his son Harry Kent became Worthington’s new partner. In 1922, Gersix made 53 trucks at its factory on Fairview Avenue at Valley Street. Under the new name, the company moved to 506 Mercer Street and later to 1263 Mercer Street. Trucks and motor coaches were assembled in individual bays rather than on a conventional assembly line. In 1923 Kent and Worthington reincorporated the business as the Kenworth Motor Truck Company. The name was a combination of the two names “Ken” and “Worth”, the same as the surname “Kenworth”. In 1926 they started making buses, and in 1933 Kenworth was the first American company to offer diesel engines as standard in their trucks. In 1945 Kenworth was bought by The Pacific Car and Foundry Company.
In the 1989 James Bond movie Licence to Kill, James Bond drives a Kenworth W900 Semi-truck as he duels drug dealerFranz Sanchez. In Licence to Kill, the producers had 6 Kenworth Trucks rigged for stunt work, but they only used one for the stunt which 007 raised the front of truck to protect himself from a fire.