Thursday, December 8, 2016

Big Peet from Providence submits a hearty pre-SUV (low on the S, heavy on the UV)

One day recently my phone started blowing up with massive green images. It seems that someone in Rhode Island has pulled off an impossible trick in keeping a rust prone classic truck alive!
This is a 1961 International Travelall in Metallic Green. International stands for International Harvester; a company established in 1901 to make farm machinery, construction equipment, and work-oriented trucks. The beast you see before you here represents IH dipping their toes into the passenger vehicle business for the first time.
The front of the Travelall only looked like this for 2 years. The year previous had stacked quad headlights while the year after had a single headlight on each side.
The Travelall is a massive Suburban-like vehicle that could seat 5 well fed adults and most of the furnishings of a home. Seriously these are YUGE up close. The Travelall was introduced back in 1953 to acknowledge that farmers had families they might want to drive to town occasionally. The first edition looked like their standard pickup in the front with a mini-schoolbus looking rear. This tall cabin look with some aerodynamic styling cues is vastly modern in comparison.
This interior shot shows a large "radio delete" plate on the dash meaning that this truck was never ordered with one. That speedometer pod is the only indicator that I know of to show that this is not a '62 model. Both years are 99% identical but the '62 had a more modern dashboard that was twice as wide as this little opening.
The transmission is a bit of a mystery to me but I'm guessing it's a 3-on-the-tree manual. The automatics tend to have a small window on top of the steering column showing which gear you're in. I've also seen floor mounted manual transmissions in Travelalls so who knows?
You've got to love the early '60s script!
Another shot of the super basic interior.
This truck looks right at home in its handsome green hue with autumn leaves scattered about.
1961 was the year that IH released the very first Scout (model 80). Between the Travelall and the Scout the passenger car portion of the IH business was bigger than ever. Eventually it would be its undoing as labor costs and a debilitating 6 month strike around '79-'80 halted all passenger vehicle production for good.
I had a '79 IH Scout II that had a 304 V8 and 4 speed manual trans. It was the quintessential IH vehicle; the engine would start every time (including 12 degrees below in the middle of a Western Mass night!) but the body was eviscerated with rot. These beasts will run forever, working as hard as you want them to. To see one not rusted completely is a treat.

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