Curbside Classic: 1964 International Travelette Pickup

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer

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.

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Paul Niedermeyer
Paul Niedermeyer

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  • Rustaddscharacter Rustaddscharacter on Mar 13, 2010

    Back in the early seventies my late uncle was a salesman for IH in the San Diego suburbs. I remember his family had two cars; one unknown (to me), the other a Travelall. I still have vague memories of cruising to Disneyland in that thing. Ugliest SUV ever; no wonder the Suburban is still around. Someone who lives a few blocks over from me has an (I think) late-60s vintage IH pickup in nice restored condition. I'll try to send some pix at some point. I work for my state's Division of Parks and Recreation. Our crew truck is a 2006 Ford F350 Super Duty crew cab 4x4 dually with the Powerstroke (International) turbo diesel V8. It reminds me of the subject of this article, only much, much badder. It will tow 12,000 lbs at 70 mph, has four doors, we clean the cab with a shop vac and a pressure washer, and it goes like a bat out of hell when unloaded. Don't tell the governor this, but if you spool the turbo while power braking, you can break all four rear wheels loose off the line. On dry pavement. Just barely. Your tax dollars at work. You're welcome. On the down side, the standard bench seat sucks. Oh how I wish we had ordered the split bench. Our old Chevy 2500 had the split bench seat and speakers in all four doors. That was nice. Everything else was awful, though. GM deserves everything bad that happens to it. That truck was absolute proof. How are you gonna f**k up a pickup?

  • Simon Enorio Luiz Simon Enorio Luiz on Nov 23, 2021

    In 1960 a fleet of more than 300 Travelall and Travelette were imported to Brazil to fight malaria. In 1966, for the first and only time, I saw such a vehicle here in the south of the country. What end will this entire fleet have taken?

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.
  • Geozinger Up until recently this was on my short list of cars to replace my old car. However, it didn't pass the "knee test" with my wife as her bad knee makes it difficult for her to get in and out of a sedan. I saw a number of videos about the car and it seems like the real deal as a sporting sedan. In addition I like the low price, too, but it was bad luck/timing that we didn't get to pull the trigger on this one.
  • ToolGuy I agree with everyone here. Of course there are exceptions to what I just said, don't take everything so literally. The important thing is that I weighed in with my opinion, which is helping to move things forward. I believe we can all agree that I make an important contribution (some will differ, that is their prerogative). A stitch in time saves nine. Life isn't fair, you know. I have more to say but will continue at our next meeting. You can count on that, for I am a man of my word. We will make it happen. There might be challenges. I mean, it is what it is. This too shall pass. All we can do is all we can do. These meetings are never really long enough for me to completely express all the greatness within me, are they? Let's meet to discuss. All in a day's work. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day. At the end of the day, I must say I agree with you. I think you will agree. When all is said and done, there is more said than done. But of course that is just one man's opinion. You are free to disagree. As I like to say...(I am working on my middle management skills -- how am I doing?)
  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.