Live Auctions

Needs Prince Charming: 1937 International Harvester Half-Ton Pickup

It’s our lucky day. Here on craigslist is another stunning truck, a 1937 International Harvester half-ton project. The asking price is $15,000 and the truck is located in Huntington, Indiana. We have T.J. to thank for this tip! This is likely a first-year D2 model. International Harvester was well known for agricultural machinery and heavy-duty trucks, having been around since 1902. The idea of entering the light-duty pickup market dawned in the early 1930s after the Great Depression when a cheaper truck was more appealing to cash-strapped consumers. The D2’s streamlined Art-Deco grille and fenders were an attractive departure from the C-line. Interestingly, while the D2 sold very well, IH’s truck divisions were engaged in a civil war. The heavy truck organization, which had seniority, operated separately from the light duty lines, setting up a constant scramble for resources. Too, customers tended to buy their trucks from the same dealers where they bought their cars – usually one of the Big Three – which served to starve IH of sales. These cultural factors helped usher IH out of the truck business, eventually.

The motor in this truck is likely the Green Diamond six-cylinder, displacing 214 cu. in. and good for about 75 bhp. This truck has a three-speed floor shift manual. I believe options this year included a smaller “Economy Six” motor and a four-speed transmission. Our seller indicates that this truck was a barn find, has matching numbers (is it possible to tell with an International Harvester truck?), but hasn’t run in a few years. Apparently, back in the day, the truck attended the Muddy River Run car show a few times. The last time this show was held was in 2014, hinting at a timeline for how long this truck has been off the road.

The truck’s striking looks are not shown to the best advantage in the photos supplied, and this color doesn’t do it any good either. But restored, these are gems, and prices can reach $30,000 or more.

The interior shows off the rectangular and square gauge set that was an echo of the exterior’s Art Deco style. The appliques on the dash attest to at least one attendance at the Muddy River show. Examining the photos reveals very little rust, but we aren’t really given enough to make a solid judgment. Still, for the price, it’s worth a conversation. If a buyer is really lucky, it will start with minimal effort. Even if it needs more than we can see from the limited photo set, there’s a little headroom to spend some money here.

Comments

  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    Well, sure don’t need that second cup of coffee to reach my target heart rate for the day after seeing this. This truck would be very welcome at my place. I might even be able to recover some of the cost by selling those 60’s hub caps and installing a set of 3-Diamond ones. Very good condition from what the pic shows.

    That would be an HD engine in that bay. The HD was the daddy of the Green Diamond. It is instantly recognizable by the rounded corners of the head; the GRD really has a square head. HD also uses 18 mm plugs vs the 14 mm for the GRD. I see this one uses the more modern water pump (post war) instead of the earlier version with the exposed shaft and the packing. You can get a rebuild kit for the newer pumps but you’re going to be visting a machine shop to fix the older one.

    There was an economy engine that displaced 179 CID. Not too many of them around as in reality the only thing they saved was power, which was lacking in the larger engines as it was.

    Surprisingly, a fair bit of parts out there. You can get all the seals and even a new headliner for the cab. I’ve put some transmission and rear axle rebuild kits together for customers. Engine parts will take a while but they are actually becoming more available than before. Hopefully this isn’t just a blip on the screen.

    The D cab was larger than the small K trucks (K-1 thru K-5) that followed it and was also used in the larger K-series (K-6 thru K-14) until ’49. The smaller K panel trucks also used the D doors and windshield.

    Overall they are a nice desirable truck that is increasing in popularity…

    Like 23
    • BigBlocksRock

      Cool old p/u.
      Is that crank handle on the dash for a vent or the windshield, or something else?

      Like 1
      • luke arnott Member

        The windshield opens.

        Like 1
  2. erik johnston

    Neat truck- I agree the white doesn’t work,probley not original. Great body lines and sounds like it was loved, I like the dark green or a blue would look good. Its got the better engine I wish my garage was not just 18×25 but 30 wide. I would be on this truck in a heart beat. Goodluck to next owner!!! I,m Not kicking the duster out in my life time.

  3. BlondeUXB Member

    Visually reminiscent of a Mack Jr. (?)
    or am I mistaken ?

    Like 2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      The Mack Jr. was actually made by REO. If you check the styles of the 30s and 40s you’ll find a lot of resemblance between the builders. I would almost guess that they had spies between the design studios because so many innovations seemed to come out together…

      Like 6
      • Howard A Member

        Ha! No spies, thing was, back then, trucks were “assembled” units, meaning, they took parts that everyone had access to, Bendix, Dana, BW, even the cabs and boxes were made by an outside source( Federal and Diamond T used the same cab). Maybe had a different front clip or trim, but same guts. I believe the Mack Jr. was a light duty REO, and REO made some HD pickups, like Diamond T, Federal, and Dodge.

        Like 6
  4. JohnfromSC

    This D2 is an absolute STEAL at this price. This is closer to a $25K truck if the underside is clean, and it likely is based on the rest of the truck. I know because I own one. Mine is a 1940. This one has the fairly rare deluxe interior trim too.

    All the outside grill trim is also intact. That’s worth >$1,000. It has the original 16″ artillery wheels. Those are $2,000 restored. And binder collectors will almost kill for a real ’37 bed ( which I think this one is). There is more correct than incorrect on this one and the incorrect things don’t appear major.

    These trucks bring out a crowd in any show. Park this next to a Ford or Chevy pickup and see where the crowds flock.

    Someone is going to end up with a great truck.

    Like 13
    • Keruth

      gone!

      Like 1
    • James Mulhauser

      I’m the someone, John. I missed out on a 36 Dodge Pickup from Oregon last month and I wasn’t going to lose two in a row. So nice to read your comments on value. I’m looking forward to getting this truck back to life and on the road. And by the way, the underside is very clean. Cheers to you and thanks for your comments.

      Like 5
  5. Howard A Member

    Prince charming, you say? ( adjusting tie), I could be your Prince Charming,,what? Oh, the truck,,never mind. Dang,,Great write-up, this kid knows her truck stuff, might even give Geomechs a run,,,
    The D series was IHs stab at a “modern” looking truck. In the past, IH was one of the the 1st motorized trucks, the Highwheeler, which was kind of a pickup. I think there may have been a shred of merit to the aerodynamic looks, but gas conservation wasn’t an issue, and more about selling trucks. Quick addition, while it’s true, the Big 3 had a better dealer network, the IH was sold at the same place farm implements were, and catered to the farmer. If a farmer ran IH tractors, you can bet they had IH trucks too. Farmers are very brand specific, John Deere missed the boat on not offering a pickup. IH left the small truck biz in 1980, when they concentrated on the heavy duty segment, which, at the time was going great guns. A costly mistake, considering where the pickup truck went, and consequently, where the HD business fell off, thanks, in part to a truck named Volvo. This truck has a snowballs chance in Hades of remaining like this, yeah, yeah, we all know what will happen here, and I always say, that’s okay. As is, practically useless in todays world.

    Like 4
  6. luke arnott Member

    I had a ’39 with a 4 speed floor change box.

    Like 1
  7. TW Morison

    Besides the “showroom” disadvantage of not being associated with an automobile line, there was a cost disadvantage. A Ford “flathead” V8, or a GM “stovebolt” doesn’t know if it’s in a pick-up or car, it’s just 1 of thousands that are amortizing costs. As time went on, IH went out into the “market” for much of their drivelines. AMC engines in pick-ups and Travelalls, GM and Chrysler automatic transmissions, Dana axles etc. That’s why the line-setting ticket is soooo important on these.

  8. Jack moore

    Sell the running gear drop in a small block automatic and a 9 inch make it reliable

  9. Wayne Thomas Member

    This reminds me of some early K-B trucks. If I remember correct, some had a bed with KNOX imprinted on the tailgate. I remember asking my Dad why it didn’t have International on it. When I was born in 1948 and was younger, we used to play games about naming vehicles on the road. As a young kid I would pretend I was playing windshield wipers running around with sticks in my hand, holding one upper mount and one lower mount. Don’t remember which vehicle I seen them on, but I’m sure there was one made.

  10. Denny N. Member

    JohnfromSC is right; this rig outclasses the Big 3 brands in appearance. Too bad Indiana is 2000 miles away !

  11. James Mulhauser

    Howard: When you say “this” truck has a snowball’s chance in Hades of remaining like this, were you referring to the 37 Int’l? It is ABSOLUTELY going to remain as stock as I can keep it. Maybe a respray in an original color from the 37 palat, but no change in drivetrain. REAL OLD TRUCKS should stay REAL OLD TRUCKS forever! Cheers to all.

    Like 2
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Man after my own heart. I plan to restore mine right down to the safety wires, and paint it from the color chart(s) (oldinternationaltrucks.com). Some nice choices back then…

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