Welcome to Truck Saturday at TTAT. I know a few of you might not be too keen about old trucks, but they are such perfect CC material: they’re old, still hard at work, lots of patina, and highly picturesque. How can anyone not just love this International Travelette PU? It’s just oozing with authenticity and testosterone; none of that sissified cushiness of its modern successors. And in case you’re wondering about the Travelette name, it’s International’s moniker for a double cab; a play on the name of its popular Travelall proto-SUV. Now there’s history with that name and style, because the Travelette was the first production double cab pickup in the land. Sadly, International bowed out just as double-cabs were finally becoming to catch on.
I’ve been following this truck’s comings and goings for the sixteen years we’ve lived here now. For a while it lived down the street from us; now its over on the east side. It seems to have slowed down a bit in its old age, but after forty-five years, it deserves a slower pace of life. I’m not sure what’s under the hood, but it’s probably one of the variations of International’s gnarly and beefy V8, which came in 304, 345 and 392 cubic inch variations. There used to be a 266 incher too, but it might have been discontinued by this time. Of course, it could well be the infinitely rugged BG series six, which came in 241 and 265 CI versions.One thing we can be pretty sure of: it doesn’t have a Detroit Diesel under the hood like this International pickup.
International had a storied history, one of the great classic American industrial giants. It’s roots go all the way back to the 1830’s, when Cyrus McCormick refined and patented the horse-drawn reaper. A merger in 1902 with the Deering Harvester Co. (no relation to John Deere) and a few other agricultural manufacturers created the ag business equivalent of GM. The Farmalls of my youth were the crowning glory of International’s golden era, but trucks were an increasing part of the industrial mix, beginning in 1907. International had a very strong position in the mid and large size truck market; their Loadstar series was ubiquitous for decades.
International stumbled, starting in the sixties. Pickup production ended in 1975. A combination of labor issues and the recession of 1981 practically wiped out the company. It sold the flagship ag products division, and retrenched as a mid-large size truck manufacturer, which it continues as today. But I can’t but believe that it’s a matter of time before the now-called Navistar gets swallowed up in the global truck consolidation already well under way. My guess: VW, which has just increased their MAN holdings and will likely consolidate it with their Scania and VW truck ops. Another vestigial American icon from the golden era ripe for plucking.