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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1970 international harvester 1200 d a pristine pickup

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]

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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.

  • CaddyDaddy Coney Island in Bailey, Colorado off of US 285. Man oh man, Caddy Daddy could use a Chicago Dog, side of fries and a root beer. Good Times!
  • MaintenanceCosts Imagine that... the OEM that doesn't make absurd false claims about "Full Self-Driving" and that doesn't release beta software onto public streets gets better treatment from the regulator.
  • MaintenanceCosts Yes, yes, balance, quick turn-in, working the gears, blah, blah.I'm sorry, none of it is convincing. A 3-series needs two more cylinders than this so that it doesn't sound like a Jetta on $199/month special.
  • MaintenanceCosts Is Stellantis capable of making a product for the American market without embarrassing levels of over-the-top fake machismo?
  • Philip This raises two questions for me:[list=1][*]What happens to all of the chargepoint that we have installed at our homes? Do those all have to be replaced?[/*][*]What happens to all of the billions of dollars from the federal government being spent on non-tesla ports at wal-marts and pilot service centers? [/*][/list=1]