Kenworth Legend 900 test drive

By: Steve Brooks

Steve Brooks reflects on 'The Making of Legends' as he gets behind the wheel of Kenworth’s new Legend 900


Spawned in the shadows of the iconic W-model, it was perhaps inevitable Kenworth’s classic T900 would one day notch ‘Legend’ status.

The original Kenworth T900 was born in the economic upheaval of ‘the recession we had to have’ at the start of 1990 and there’s no doubt, it was a truck Kenworth needed.

Back then, the star of the Kenworth camp was the revolutionary T600.

Launched on the Australian market in 1987, the slippery ‘Anteater’ had turned conventional truck design on its head with its intense accent on aerodynamics.

Check out our video of the Kenworth T900 when it made its debut at the 2017 Brisbane Truck Show


The Kenworth Legend T900 in action
The Kenworth Legend T900 in action!

In many eyes, however, Kenworth’s T600 could never fill the gaps left by the tirelessly tough W-model and SAR which had been dropped to make way for their slippery successor

Something was missing.

That classically Kenworth image so deeply rooted in the W-model was gone, but it was that ‘something’ which at the back end of 1990 first came to life as a prototype T900 developed entirely by Kenworth Australia at its factory and headquarters in Bayswater, Victoria.

Using the wider cab of the T600, the T900 embodied all that was attractive and sought after in the W-model, including an even longer bumper to back-of-cab dimension to enhance ride and steering qualities.

Check out our video of the Kenworth 900 at the Alexandra Truck, Ute and Rod Show


Brad May (right) talks to Steve Brooks about the truck
Brad May (right) talks to Steve Brooks about the truck


From the outset, it was a truck that oozed image and prestige and according to Paccar Australia director of sales and marketing, Brad May, this is the reason why the surprise appearance of a limited-edition Legend 900 made such a powerful impact at the recent Brisbane Truck Show.

"It’s a celebration for us and for a lot of our customers," he insists.

"To do something like this is a way of recognising the contribution of many people, in what we’ve achieved in this country and what the brand has achieved for lots of operators.

"It resonates with people and rekindles something special.

"People who are normally stern businessmen, successful people who don’t ordinarily show much emotion… it arouses a passion in them, something good, something very proud."

The Kenworth T900 launched in style at the 2017 Brisbane Truck Show




In what many see as a fitting tribute, the first Legend 900 is dedicated to the memory of Kenworth stalwart Allan Stead, who spent 39 years with Paccar in Australia and was mentor and friend to colleagues and customers across the country and far beyond

In a magnanimous gesture, this first Legend 900 will not be sold, instead spending its days at Kenworth’s Hall of Fame in Alice Springs.

Here’s our techno take on the 2017 Brisbane Truck Show where Kenworth T900 made its debut


Even so, having driven the original T900 prototype in 1990, I was entirely grateful when Kenworth agreed to a stint behind the wheel of the ‘Steady’ special.

And so it was that on a sunny winter’s morning in the backblocks of Bayswater I fired the Cummins into life and with Brad May in the passenger seat, steered the big beak through the ‘burbs and into the hills through Yarra Glen, up The Slide and north up through Yea.

It wasn’t far, all up a round trip just a touch over 300 kilometres. But it was enough and I loved every moment.

The raw pleasure of it.

The ride and handling of a true driver’s truck, the slick shift of the stick, the muted growl of a 15-litre Cummins gurgling through seven inch stacks, the classy finish of the cab and all the touches defining the Legend 900 as something truly special. And mixed among it all, the recollections of other times and other people.

When it’s all boiled down, I suppose it really is all about a truck and a driver.

Steve Brooks takes the new T900 Legend out for a spin
Steve Brooks takes the new T900 Legend out for a spin

See Steve’s full review of the Kenworth T900 in the September issue of Owner//Driver.

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