Most truck units take pride in their powerful engine, large payload capacity, and fuel economy. However, here’s what most truck owners and drivers would say–the true power of a utility truck lies in its versatility. After all, the factors mentioned are futile if the truck can’t comfortably and safely carry its designated load.
For this reason, it’s no surprise that the Kenworth T800 remains one of the most popular trucks in the market, approximately 37 years after its introduction. With its flexible build and convenient design, the T800 is still the go-to utility truck for many truck owners and drivers.
History of Kenworth T800
Like other Kenworth trucks, the T800 has a long and interesting history before reaching its current design. Here’s a look back on the development of the T800, from its predecessor to its most updated model.
1985 Kenworth T600
While other designs during the time focused on increasing the payload capacity of their units, the T600 was equipped with a combination of improved aerodynamics, fuel efficiency, and maneuverability. Its revolutionary design showed the entire American truck market that with the right configurations, drivers could ride with optimal speed and comfort without sacrificing payload.
These major upgrades of the T600 are also paired with a set-back front axle and a sloped hood line. This body type and its excellent aerodynamics made the T600 one of the most viable designs for day cab uses, tandem axle sleepers, and dump trucks. Thus, introducing the idea of heightened versatility among Class 7 and 8 trucks would pave the way for the T800.
Aside from jump-starting the creation of the T800, the 1985 Kenworth T600 also inspired numerous similar Class 8 heavy-duty trucks from other American manufacturing companies.
1986 Kenworth T800
The 1985 Kenworth T600 already showed the market how versatile utility trucks can be with the right design. For this reason, there has been a growing market demand for more flexible Class 7 and Class 8 trucks–and Kenworth’s response to this was their T800.
Produced in Seattle and formally introduced to the market in 1986, the Kenworth T800 sported a set-back front axle for heavy-duty chassis and a sloped hood line like the T600. It was dubbed the “ultimate workhorse” with heightened fuel efficiency, increased payload with every truckload, and enhanced steering capabilities, allowing drivers to traverse even the most difficult terrain with relative ease.
According to Kenworth, the T800 possesses the strength and versatility to tackle whatever task a business throws at it. This statement claims to be true as it is now widely used to deliver fuel across towns, haul gravel out of a quarry, and perform other uses in the vocational markets.
The sleeper model of the Kenworth T800, the Kenworth T800 Ext Day Cab, also provides increased driving space and ergonomics for drivers and a quieter engine by 20%.
1988 Kenworth T400
Because of the popularity of the T800 among private and public contractors alike, Kenworth introduced the T400 in 1988. It sported a similar sloped hood line, set-back front axle, and increased aerodynamics as the T800, but with a shorter hood.
The T400 is marketed as a regional haul tractor due to its size. While it can’t compete with the T800 in versatility, the T400 also became popular among business owners, with multiple variations being introduced in the market until 2011.
2014 Kenworth T880
One of the youngest models among all Kenworth truck lines, the Kenworth T880 is an upgraded version of the Kenworth T800. Introduced in March 2014, the T880 is dubbed as a rugged and dependable vocational truck for various applications and uses.
Despite the numerous technological updates present in the T880, its most notable update from the T800 designs is its 8″ wider frame and a one-piece windshield. Kenworth first used this feature on its T680 unit. Aside from this, it also sports better suspension for smoother rides, making it one of the most driver-friendly Class 8 models on the market today.
Flexibility of Kenworth T800
To understand how the Kenworth T800 achieved its exceptional versatility, we can look at its overall design and uses through the years.
Kenworth T800 Design
Kenworth specifically designed the T800 to carry a Gross Combination Weight (GCW) of up to 3300,000 lbs with minimum tare weight. Newer versions were equipped with the powerful PACCAR MX-13, a highly efficient engine that can deliver up to 500 horsepower and 1850 lb-ft of torque, supported by radiators sized from 1,440 to 1,780 inches. Needless to say, it provides enough power to carry pretty much everything in your job.
Also, the T800 comes with a 193″ wheelbase, AIRGLIDE 400 L 40K rear suspension, DANA 12K spring front suspension, 11R22.5 tires, and a 3.55 gear ratio. This design, matched with the engine’s power, enables the T800 to move any load confidently over any inclined, uneven, and slippery locations.
For its maneuverability, the T800 comes with up to 22,000 lbs front axles, twin steer front axles to 37,500 lbs, and dual power steering. It also has other options of single, tandem, and tridem drives, which can be factory installed for a quality finished product that will suit your business better.
Most importantly, in terms of serviceability, the T800 comes with an engine that sits high in the frame and ahead of the cab for complete access. You can change fuel, oil, and water filters while standing on the ground, as they are placed in convenient locations. The heater or air conditioner motor is easily repairable with the right tools, equipment, and replacement units.
Kenworth T800 Uses Through the Years
As expected, logging companies were the first to buy the Kenworth T800. A general manager from a logging business in Grand Forks, ND remembered the first time he parked the Kenworth T800 on Highway 101–other log truck drivers would pull over to look at the truck.
The T800 also made a mark on the construction industry. One of the first construction companies to use T800 units in their operations was a road building & asphalt paving company in South Florida. While they’ve been a fan of the W900 units, they wanted something that could be outfitted in various ways to serve multiple business functions.
The T800 exceeded their expectations, as their 20 units lasted more than 22 years. And since their units remain functional, they were even able to sell their T800 units to fund their upgrade to a newer version.
The T800s have also been the go-to trucks for various industries across the US. Some of them are outfitted as dump trucks, fire trucks, lowboys, and concrete mixers.
Because of its versatility, the T800 is the perfect truck for public and private corporations alike, as it can easily be repurposed to serve a different function.
Other Transportation Uses
The list of T800 uses goes on and on. Aside from the industries listed above, T800s are also used to haul standard van trailers for over the road trucking companies.
They are used both as sleeper trucks and day cabs as well. Because of its round-the-clock functionality, there’s no wonder the T800 is considered the ultimate work truck across various industries.
Boost the Versatility of Your Kenworth T800
While Kenworth already gave the T800 numerous upgrades, there’s still one thing that can further boost the versatility of your Kenworth T800–a reliable and high-perfomring Kenworth heater box. Fortunately, excellent HVAC units for T800s are now available on the market.
When looking for an HVAC box to boost your AC’s performance of your T800, it’s best to find one made of high-quality stainless steel to reduce the risk of rusting and corrosion. Additionally, our Kenworth HVAC units come with an upgraded blower motor with 15% higher CFM compared to OEM.
Given its notable versatility and impressive functionality, it’s hardly surprising that contractors and drivers are using the T800 pretty much everywhere and every day. Despite its impressive features, remember that it still needs the right modifications and proper maintenance to perform at its best.