By on May 21, 2021

Today’s Rare Ride hails from the alternative to the Detroit Three: International Harvester. The company catered mostly to a farm-truck audience and was never a full-line manufacturer, but made some inroads with the family utility buyer with its Travelall.

International created the Travelall version of its full-size truck in 1953, at a time when the American lexicon didn’t contain the term SUV. Its station wagon competed directly with the Suburban, in a market which Chevrolet had largely to itself since introduction in 1940. Most station wagons of the time were built by third-party manufacturers, which used passenger car platforms and added a wooden body to the rear.

IH introduced the Travelall in 1953 and started building its own station wagons. Travelall’s first generation ran through 1957 and was offered with a single inline-six engine and one body style. It was technically a panel van with windows added and based on the R-Series full-size truck. For its final two years, the R-Series was replaced by the S-series, and a heavier duty version was offered. IH made four-wheel drive an option in 1956.

The tradition of a single Travelall generation spanning two different series of IH trucks continued in Travelall’s second and third generations. International made light developments of the A-series introduced in 1958, which turned into B-series in 1959. International added a third side door to Travelall for ’58, a full nine years before GM followed suit. The four-door model was available in 1961, 12 years before the Suburban gained a fourth door. C- and D-Series trucks were the foundation of the third-gen Travelall, offered from 1961 to 1968. As the popularity of the Travelall version increased, engine options grew, and the truck’s wheelbase increased as well.

In 1969 the Travelall entered its fourth and final generation and was considered a standalone offering instead of a version of the company’s current pickup truck. Based on the D-Series featured here previously, the new Travelall maintained the same 119-inch wheelbase as it had before. Still not an SUV, IH called it a truck-based station wagon, and positioned it above the much smaller Scout. Three-row seating was added in 1969 in line with Suburban offerings. In 1973 the Travelall spawned a pickup version of itself, to complete the pickup-wagon-pickup circle. Using the Travelall’s distinct body, the rear roof was removed to create the Wagonmaster. This was different from the four-door crew cab Travelette, which used the standard D-Series body design.

In its final years the Travelall was offered with an I6 (232 cu in) or V8 (401 cu in) from AMC, or three different International V8s, of 304, 345, or 392 cubic inches in displacement. Transmissions were largely manual and used three, four, or five speeds. There was also a three-speed automatic. Catering to various customers, the Travelall was available in basic work truck format, or in well-equipped trim with wood paneling like a traditional family hauler. Models were offered as 1010, 1110, and 1210, to correspond with their pickup truck siblings.

The end came quickly for Travelall in its final guise. IH had a small development budget, old products, and big, thirsty engines. The oil crisis of 1973 tanked sales across the line, but the Travelall, in particular, suffered at the hands of the Suburban. General Motors added its fourth door the same year as the oil crisis. 1975 was the last year of any full-size truck production at IH, as the company built only the Scout II through the end of its passenger vehicle line in 1980.

Today’s Rare Ride is a more basic Travelall, repainted in gold over a black interior. It’s an automatic with two-wheel drive and has traveled just 24,000 miles in its life. Yours for $17,000.

[Images: IH, Stageway]

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23 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1971 International Harvester Travelall, Adversary to Suburban...”

  • avatar

    Simple, tough, reliable. A family friend had one, it was indestructible. Lost touch after they moved away.

  • avatar

    Utility vehicles and pickups only. International peaked way before the market was ready for them.

  • avatar

    Travelalls are absolute beasts. Take a truck frame, mate a simple, low revving, mid HP/high torque v8 to a true truck transmission. Throw in a large, well optioned (for the 70s) interior with a huge cargo bay. Now you’ve got a nice vehicle for the family trips, but can also pull down a house if you need to. What’s not to love? Well, the 8mpg maybe but when these were new, who cares? :)

  • avatar

    UMM The one in the link is not a 4wd. It is a 1010 which means that it has the torsion bar IFS which was not combined with 4×4. It also is why it sits so low as the 1010 chassis was completely different than the one shared by the 1110 and 1210 both of which were available in 2wd or 4wd.

  • avatar

    A couple of my high school friends worked the assembly line for these in Springfield years ago. Around contract time they’d hang a heavy nut on a string inside the front fenders or pack in a few beer cans full of pebbles to give the new Travelall owner that satisfying rattle right off the lot and send a message to management.

  • avatar

    Look at the picture of advertisement for the stretched red “stagecoach” model, focus in on the lower door trim and lower door panel gaps. Wow, when the example you use in the photoshoot is that bad, it makes you wonder what the standard example off the assembly line is like. For a tractor, who for a consumer vehicle maybe not.

    • 0 avatar

      That is not a “Stagecoach” model, that is one that has been converted by the 3rd party company Stageways. Notice how the ad copy reads “It’s an International Motor Truck quality all the way. If they can’t build a dependable work horse, who can? So it isn’t an ad from IH it is one from Stageways.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      The truth is, most people didn’t care about things like panel gaps in those days. Certainly not outside of the high-end luxury market.

  • avatar

    I used to have a pickup that got 11 mpg. 11 in the city, 11 on the highway, it was easy to calculate your range. I bet this things get 9 mph.

  • avatar

    “full-line manufacturer”

    Not many of those around these days.

  • avatar

    I had a Travelall when I was just out of college. It was a well used ’72 with as much rust in the body as steel. But the windows all worked – even the power rear window. And it had the 392 V8 with an automatic. It was not fast, but it would tow anything. Hook it up to the 3500 pound boat and trailer and it didn’t notice it was there. Felt strong enough to move your house, with or without wheels. Simply amazing vehicle.

  • avatar

    Dad bought his Suburban in ’72, the last of the 3-doors. SUVs were pretty rare back in the 70s, so it was super easy to find in the vast Disneyland parking lot.

  • avatar

    My uncle was a lifer with “Uncle Harvey” and always drove these as a company car. He never had much to say about them although my uppity aunt was embarrassed to be seen in it. I do remember them rusting pretty bad and early

  • avatar

    Well now I can say that lifted jeep with 22s is “all fashion and no action”

  • avatar

    I remember seeing these, and ’70s’ Suburbans, and thinking how their size made them stick out like sore thumbs. Now cars like this are normal. How times have changed.

    (Nice condition on this example, by the way…)

  • avatar

    Now that VW has bought International, they should use their partnership with Ford to bring back the Travelall, Scout and a pickup.

  • avatar

    Teen in my high school class was son of the local IH dealer principal. Sixty damn years ago. All he could ever talk about was how long a strip of rubber an unloaded 345 ci V8 pickup could lay down on the road, compared to a Chev. Uh, most roads were literally dirt in town those days, changing in ’63. All I read here on pickups is about towing, back then it was all about laying rubber among the teens, and the farmers, well they just dawdled along at 35 mph in a 60 zone no matter what pickup they owned. Your average soul bought a car not a rattling truck with tin door cards.

    Channeling their inner tractor, IH pickup bodies were as well painted as any harrow rusting on the dealer forecourt, so they rusted badly in a year or two. A mile down the road, the Chevy dealer must have outsold IH a hundred to one on pickup trucks. Hell, people would drive 25 miles to the Ford dealer to get an F100 instead of an IH from their neighbor. But the Fargo pickups sold by the Plymouth dealer in town didn’t sell many either.

    Jumping forward a few years, have to say the Grand Wagoneer bodywork was just great at rusting along the seams, if not as prone to having whole panels rust from the middle out like IH. When IH abandoned the small truck market, honestly, few noticed.

    This feaured Travelall I’d classify right up there with collecting old military trucks or vintage lawnmowers. Something for the niche hobbyist. Maybe someone would salivate at the thought of getting one for $17K, but boy, they’d be few and far between.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    My nephew has restored my granddad’s 63 IH 1000 stepside pickup with 63k miles. Looks like new and the I6 with a 3 on the tree runs great. During the 60s and early 70s IH was number 3 in pickup sales just ahead of Dodge.

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