Rare Rides: The 1971 International Harvester Travelall, Adversary to Suburban

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1971 international harvester travelall adversary to suburban

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]

Join the conversation
2 of 23 comments
  • Conundrum Conundrum on May 22, 2021

    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.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on May 22, 2021

    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.

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.