Owner-operator Joe White's 1960 Kenworth cabover, still rolling

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Updated Dec 16, 2022

Retired owner-operator Joe White bought this piece of trucking history, a 1960 Kenworth cabover, when he was 19 years old in 1970. At the time, he was based in Acampo, California, and operated White Trucking with his father. 

The last 12 years of the truck's working life before White retired it around the turn of the century, he leased it on with Mercer Transportation. He worked the truck for 30 years in total before retiring it.

Joe White with his 1960 Kenworth caboverDuring his time owning the rig, White put 3 million miles on it. It had about a million when he bought it. For White himself, who recently retired, he finished his career with a little more than 5.5 million miles.Video and photos by Lawson RudisillThe rig pulled a flatbed throughout its career, hauling lumber, steel, pipe and more. Today, though it only travels to truck shows, the truck still pulls a 40-foot flatbed. This past September, he showed off the cabover at the Mayberry Truck Show in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, where Overdrive video editor Lawson Rudisill caught up with him.

White has not restored the truck, but he has kept it well-maintained through the years. 

"I haven't done anything to it the 50 years I've had it," he said, outside of necessary maintenance, and: "I've painted it several times." It was black when he bought it, then he painted it green for about it a decade, then to its current color, about 32 years ago.

Engine of Joe White's 1960 Kenworth CaboverThe truck is on its fourth engine -- this one is a 1987-model 400 Cummins that White added in 1992. Joe White himself has had three different engines in it during the time he's owned it. "I get a little over a million miles, then I just get another motor," he said. It also has a two-stick 5 and 4 transmission. "I couldn't tell you how many transmissions I've had in it over the years," he noted.American Truck Historical Society | YouTubeWhite's done all of his own maintenance over the years, including overhauling the engines, transmissions and rear ends. "You've got to do a lot of maintenance if you want to keep them on the road for 40 years," he added.

White said he's done minor updates to the interior as it wore out over the years, but it's mostly still as it was when he bought it.

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Joe White: But I just like to come out and let people look at what we was doing 40, 50 years ago because the truck now is 62 years old. My name is Joe White. I'm originally from California. I bought this truck when I was 19 years old in 1970. I drove it for 30 years, and I retired it 20 years ago. Well, me and my dad worked together, we was White Trucking. And the last 12 years, I worked for Mercer out of Louisville, Kentucky. And that's where I run coast-to-coast in Canada for 12 years with them. I'm pulling a 40-foot flatbed now. In all the years that I worked it, I pulled a flatbed. I hauled on the West Coast, lot of lumber, steel, pipe. Just about anything you can get on a flatbed, I would haul. This is when I bought it in 1970. I was 19 years old. That picture was taken 52 years ago. This was taken in '73, and this one was taken 40 years later in the same place. You ask what I haul, I've hauled dinosaurs.

Bystander: How'd you catch it?

Joe White: He was trained. He just hopped up there. Overpasses was a little tricky.

Bystander: Look at the snowstorm he went through.

Joe White: Yeah, that was up in Montana. This is Utah. This is Washington State. I haven't done anything to it the 50 years I've had it. I've painted it several times. It was black when I got it, it was green for 10 years, and then I painted it brown. And that, you see, that was 30 something years ago, and it looks just the same as it does now. I put several new bumpers on it. On the interior, as it wore out, I would dress it up a little bit, make it look a little neater. But I really haven't changed anything on it. The speedometer didn't work for years. But after a while, you get the feel of it. You know what gear you're in, what RPMs, you know how fast you're going. This is a 400 Cummins. I put this engine in here in '92. It was an '87 model. The truck has had four engines in it. I've had three different engines in it.

I get a little over a million miles, then I just get another motor. Still got the five and the four transmissions. And the transmissions, I couldn't tell you how many transmissions I've had in it over the years. Still got the SQHD rear ends in it. All that stuff has been replaced many times, but none of it's been changed. I've done all my own maintenance. I overhaul the engines, the transmissions, rear ends, I done it all. You got to do a lot of maintenance if you want to keep them on the road for 40 years. I put three million on this. And I had another truck before this I probably put 150,000 on. I was only 18 years old when I bought that one. And then I went to work for another company, and I worked for them for a little over 20 years. And I put two and a half million miles on their trucks. So when I retired, I got over five and a half million miles.