Tailgate Special: 1953 International Harvester Travelall


It isn’t an old short blue school bus, despite the appearance! This, along with GM’s Suburban are the two progenitors of all the huge SUV’s we see on roads today. This Travelall has some rough edges and custom touches but has some very solid and good points as well. It’s located in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada and is listed here on eBay, where the opening bid is literally less than a dollar!


I think the double opening tailgate is really neat; I can see literally tailgating (ok, for you non-Southerners, that’s going to a sporting event or any other excuse and eating and drinking and generally carrying on for hours ahead of time in the parking lot) and having the upper half keeping the sun and/or rain off you. So cool! Yes, there are some dents and holes here, but this is one case where I think they add character. My only problem using this vehicle to tailgate is that the arch-rivals’ of my college have light blue as their main color! The seller states that the rear floor has been removed; that sounds like an opportunity to install stuff to me!


That’s a very functional front end–with the receiver in the front bumper, you could mount all kinds of gizmos to enhance that tailgating experience–perhaps a removable cooker, or a cooler? By the way; anyone else think those are Beetle running lights on the fenders? The seller does tell us that the glass and tires are relatively new; not exactly sure what that means but it’s nice to know.


Admittedly, the interior needs an infusion of goodness. Somehow, pink fur isn’t my idea of a cool seat covering. But if the price stays low, we can work on that, right? And with that ragged hole already in the dash, is anyone really going to complain if a decent sound system goes in? I know, I’m usually an original lover too, but this vehicle has already gone a long way down that custom road.


Under the hood looks surprisingly well kept to me, and the seller tells us it was running recently and should start right up. I’m not 100% sure it’s the original engine as the seller says it is a 235 cubic inch six-cylinder engine and the original one was a 220 cubic inch, but the engine pictured above does look like images of original 1953 Travelall power plants I found online. By the way, the seller also has a 1950’s Jeep FC150 for sale here on eBay–it started below $1.00 as well! So what do you think of my “tailgate special” idea for this old International? Or do you have your own idea? Let us know in the comments!



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  1. MorganW Morgan Winter Member

    Jamie, we have tailgates on this side of the Mason-Dixon line, too, ha ha! Love this vehicle.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      I get that, Morgan :-) But do you play championship level cornhole? :-)

      • MorganW Morgan Winter Member

        I’m not sure about that, but I am sure that Travelall would be great for tailgating at a Nittany Lions game!

  2. Cody

    Link seems to be broke.

    This rig is great. I agree with everything you said. Leave it as is except for some interior upgrades for comfort and looks. Than, take it camping, fishing, tailgating, or any other fun activity appropriate for a large SUV. It is oozing with character. Is that a bullet hole above the rear taillight. I certainly hope so.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Sorry, Cody, fixed the link.

  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    Sorry but if I had one of these I’d have to get it as close to this example as possible. Sure this one’s a 3/4 ton but it was in very similar condition to the blue one when the owner started the resto. Best way is to fix ’em. Just sayin’…

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Oops. Doesn’t look like that image went through. Try again.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Still won’t load. That’s frustrating. Last try…

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        OK, Jamie. That’s 3 three tries; I’ve attempted to show a photo and I can’t get it to upload. I downsized it and tried (2) different browsers. Still won’t upload. Ideas?

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        Try it one more time geomechs. We have been having some problems with the upload feature, but I just changed some things that may help.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        OK, here goes.

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        WOW!!!! That is gorgeous!!! :-) Worth the effort to post!

  4. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Link fixed :-)

  5. Howard A Member

    SHEESH! This is more about the site than this cool truck. Just kidding. I’ve given up on posting links. Seems to throw a “nail in the gears”. ANYWAY, This site is so cool. In the early 80’s, I rented a little cottage from a family. It was right around the time I found my ’49 Diamond T pickup, and the landlord loved it, and let me work on it in the drive. One day, he came home with a truck EXACTLY like this. Same color. I had never seen a ’53 Travelall before, and it was in perfect condition. He didn’t drive it much, more of the novelty of having it. I moved and never knew what happened to it, that’s why I did a double take on this one. I had a ’53 1/2 ton pickup like this. The front panel where the turn signals would be, below the headlights ( actually, in ’53 they were just parking lights, and many, including me, made them into turn signals) was a bad spot. Just about every one you see, including this one, rusted out. On this, I’d have fixed the panel, rather than put those VW ones on there, but it was a quick fix. I too think this is the SD-220. It looks just like mine. This was not a popular model, and there’s probably 5 in the country, well, 6 including this one. The levers on the sides of the hood, enabled you to pick one side up, the other side up, or remove the hood altogether (as shown) Always liked that feature, even though, the only time I opened the hood, was to add oil ( the ol’ cornbinder” loved oil) but otherwise, it ran like a refrigerator. Wait, I did put a water pump on it, otherwise, it ran great. Not the most power, and at 55 mph, the motor was really singin’, so-so brakes, funky steering, but just great trucks. This won’t be here long. Thanks, Jamie

  6. Mike

    The small town I grew up in, the neighbor and good friend of my parents had one of these, and he used it everyday, plus during the summer when school was out he would hook up his Airstream with his wife and kids and head for Truman Lake for the summer. He was still using that Travelall when he retired from teaching which was 1981. He passed away some 5 years later of a heart attack, at Truman lake fishing.

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