Heavy Hot Rod? 1956 International

Have you been looking for a potential hot-rod truck project? “Wait, what?” you say. “That’s a semi!” Yes, it is a semi, a retired fire truck to be exact. This 1956 International is found here on Hemmings in Earl Park, Indiana, for the asking price of $2,500. With only 6,000 miles on the odometer, you can be assured this truck has lived a relatively easy life compared to most heavy duty trucks.

With classic trucks becoming more common, you have to build bigger and more outrageous to get attention.  While most people don’t think of semis as being potential hot rods, there have been some recent examples that defy that notion.  One example is this 1975 International built by Mobsteel in Detroit.  Nicknamed “The Gangstar,” the truck features a custom frame, suspension with air ride and a 5.9 Cummins turbo diesel engine.  How cool is that thing?

The ad for this truck doesn’t say much about its history, features or condition. It does say “all parts to complete” which would lead me to believe that the doors are included with the sale.  It is a bit unusual to have the doors missing. Were they taken off for a specific reason?  Maybe they had the fire department name on them and they were used as office decoration for a chief somewhere?  In any event, this truck has the potential to have life breathed into it again. It will take a dedicated new owner who has some heavy-duty equipment that is capable to work on a truck this big, or it will take a heavy-duty wallet to pay a shop to do the work. Either way, there is a hot rod in the making and you’ll probably be the only person at the car show with a hot rod International semi.


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  1. Matt Trummer

    Would be great for the Vegas Rat Rod crew know as Welderup.

  2. Martin Sparkes

    Looks like stubby bob.

  3. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Get that running, replace the tank by the 5th wheel with an air tank and get a proper trailer for it. Can you imagine that as your car hauler? They had a presence on the highways when they were a common sight so imagine how much attention they could gather today.

    I like it and for the right person and setup, this would the icing on the cake.

    • KSwheatfarmer

      Would take more vision than I have to hot rod this brute

  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    For a dyed in the wool truck enthusiast, a full restoration would be the order of the day. It would be a great tractor unit to hitch the trailer to and haul your collection to the show. However, the Red Diamond six (probably a 450) wouldn’t take you there very quickly, or economically. But it would sure be a blast. I might add that if you plan your trip, you don’t have to go fast….

  5. chad

    got a great yrly ol truck show here each Spring (out on RT 5&10, Deerfield, MA) that have some remarkable vehicles. Those guys would take 9 mo & have another show piece with this tractor. Almost all (98%) are restored original, what a sight! Seems like ahundred of em, 30’s thru ’80s I’d say.

  6. mike D

    many ways to get this ” nice looking” looks like the orig. color is white , which would really look nice chrome wheels ( yes, chrome, not the color of the truck) this would look great hauling ( fifth wheel trailer) somebody’s ’56 whatever

  7. Rube Goldberg Member

    The 1st heavy duty truck I drove in the mid-70’s was an IH R-190 tandem axle dump truck like this. It had the RD 450 geomechs refers to, and a 5×3 twin stick and rubber pad rear suspension ( no springs). It was a miserable ride, but I was a young punk, ( who’s paying for it now) and had fun shifting the sticks.You could hold that thing wide open in neutral and it would never blow ( I think it had a governor) And oh yeah, it was slow. Sometimes loaded, it never would get 5th over. ( top gear) Before anybody has wild dreams of making this a resto-mod, or something it’s not, forget it. It’s a heavy duty tractor, and should remain as such. It could still be useful pulling a drop deck and some classic cars or tractors. At one time, this was the most popular road tractor sold. It already has air brakes, a big plus. Yes, some of these still had juice brakes, and vacuum for the trailer, try that out once. Thanks, Montana, always appreciate the trucks, great find.

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