Rare Rides: The 1970 International Harvester 1200 D, a Pristine Pickup

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Today’s Rare Ride marks the first time the series has featured a vehicle from the defunct International Harvester brand. Though the luxury-lined Monteverdi Safari was International-adjacent, today’s truck represents the agricultural, working heritage of IH.

The Light Line was International’s new pickup offering when it debuted in 1969 for a shortened model year. The trucks were commonly known as D-Series and were a replacement for the C-Series that was on sale since 1961.

The D-Series name continuation was a hint at what the “new” trucks were: A light reworking of the old C-Series to save as much cash as possible. It was lean times for IH, and the company intended to offer as much flexibility as possible to attract the greatest number of pickup customers. International succeeded in offering more build options than any of the competition, which resulted in a dizzying array of cab, engine, and wheelbase combinations.

Seven different wheelbases were available from 115 to 164 inches. Cabs were of single and quad cab (Travelette) varieties, with both short and long beds. Trucks turned into wagons with enclosed bodywork, and became the Suburban-challenger called Travelall. There was even a panel van version of the wagon. Engines were of I6 or V8 configuration and ranged in size from 3.8- to 4.2-liters with six cylinders, and 4.4- to 6.6-liters with eight. Transmissions on offer included three-, four-, and five-speed manuals, and a three-speed automatic. Early automatics came from Borg Warner, while later ones were the Chrysler 727.

Initially, the trucks were labeled from 1000 D to 1500 D, but that lasted only for 1969 and 1970. In 1971 the pickup line received a slight front end restyling with a plastic grille. The D lettering vanished, and trucks were renamed 1010 through 1510. That naming scheme lasted until 1974 when another reshuffling saw model numbering change to 100, 150, 200, and 500. The new numbers were assigned based on the truck’s weight rating, and a new grille appeared again.

But International’s fortunes continued to decline, along with their pickup truck market share. Circa 1969, the company netted just 4.1 percent of overall truck sales. Then the oil crisis of 1973 took its toll because IH trucks were heavier than the competition and always less fuel-efficient. The primarily rural and work truck focus of the IH dealer network was also an issue, as ever-increasing numbers of suburban customers bought ever-fancier pickups. By 1975 the company could no longer support a full line of passenger trucks, so in April that year, the D-Series ended production and took the Travelall with it. Going forward, International narrowed its focus to the Scout SUV and its heavy-duty truck offerings.

Today’s Rare Ride is a lovely four-door long-wheelbase Travelette, in what looks to be completely original condition. Light blue over blue houndstooth sets the Seventies tone. This one sold at a dealer recently for an undisclosed sum.

[Images: International Harvester]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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4 of 27 comments
  • Daveo Daveo on Feb 12, 2021

    Such an interesting bed shape. So low and wide. Seems much more practical than the current designs.

    • See 1 previous
    • DenverMike DenverMike on Feb 13, 2021

      The truck is much lower to the ground, they all were (in the era), 2wd especially, but bed dimensions and capacity are about Identical to current pickups. 14 inch wheels probably.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Feb 14, 2021

    Never realized the IH symbol was the man on the tractor but looking at the logo I can see it now. thanks for bringing that to our attention. My nephew has restored my granddad's 63 IH 1000 stepside pickup with a straight six and 3 on the tree (it only has 60k original miles). My nephew's IH gets a lot of attention at car shows.

  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
  • Alan My comment just went into the cloud.I do believe its up to the workers and I also see some simplistic comments against unionisation. Most of these are driven by fear and insecurity, an atypical conservative trait.The US for a so called modern and wealthy country has poor industrial relation practices with little protection for the worker, so maybe unionisation will advance the US to a genuine modern nation that looks after its workers well being, standard of living, health and education.Determining pay is measured using skill level, training level and risk associated with the job. So, you can have a low skilled job with high risk and receive a good pay, or have a job with lots of training and the pay is so-so.Another issue is viability of a business. If you have a hot dog stall and want $5 a dog and people only want to pay $4 you will go broke. This is why imported vehicles are important so people can buy more affordable appliances to drive to and from work.Setting up a union is easier than setting up work conditions and pay.
  • El scotto I can get the speedometer from dad's 72 Ford truck back. I can't get dad back.
  • El scotto BAH! No dividers in the trunk for bags of onions or hooks for hanging sardines! Hard Pass.