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]