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 four-wheel drive and has traveled just 24,000 miles in its life. Yours for $17,000.[Images: IH]