Rare 1916 International Harvester Model E 3/4 Ton Pickup

There’s a lot of love and passion out there for vintage pickup trucks. For some, the square-bodied Chevs are the best, though no doubt Ford fanatics would argue their trucks are tops. Others, meanwhile, specifically seek out the oddballs: Studebakers, Jeeps, and Unimogs among many others. When this 1916 International Harvester popped up on the Barn Finds tips list, offered on eBay for the current (measly) sum of $6,100, I jumped at it. Just look at this truck. Clearly, its importance is undervalued at that price, because in actuality this truck is a survivor that serves as the genesis for one of the most important genres of the American automotive industry. It’s an in-the-flesh example of when America was abandoning the era of horse-drawn carriages and ushering in the horseless carriage. And, it’s a showcase for our society’s transformation to modernity; with its wood-spoked wheels, chain drive, external flywheel and magneto ignition, it’s the automotive embodiment of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

The seller suggests the truck is mostly restored, with rebuilt engine and axles as well as all-new oak frame and truck bed. There is some assembly required, as numerous parts will need to be installed to finalize the restoration. Sheet metal bodywork and paint were professionally done in the early 2000s, but not finished due to illness.


What makes this vehicle so compelling, at least to me, is the chain of ownership, which the seller says dates back over 60 years in his family. The truck was acquired by his great-grandfather from a neighbor in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, whose shed had burned down. The all-wood chassis was rebuilt from oak using templates from existing pieces as well as measurements and photos of other trucks. The seller’s great-grandfather completed most of the frame and mechanical work during his lifetime, with seller’s grandfather helping.

The seller refers to this vehicle as a Model E and, if true, it looks like those were built for two years: 1915 and 1916. It’s likely the number produced at the time was pretty low, but the number of survivors must surely be countable on one hand. The seller says missing parts were found over time at Hershey and, when unavailable, made by hand. For example, his great-grandfather cast a new water pump housing using the old one as a template — molds and other such pieces are included with the sale.

The lucky bidder is going to get a set of extra wheels (they need work and have no tires, but still) and many, many spares. Of course, there is no title but a Bill of Sale and some provenance/history should be enough to get a title once you’ve finished assembly. And then the car show circuit should look out because this is one cool piece of Americana.


  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    These are a nice bit of history. Amazing that so many of them have almost survived as IH built them to be used, and they got USED. This one has been in a collection for some years. It was restored by the owner and it gets its share of exercise–when the weather is nice of course. A member of one of the FB pages just spent the last two years restoring/building one. He started out with (mostly) an engine and part of the frame. Lots of woodwork and metal fabrication has made it like new again.

    Interesting that the first versions of this were air-cooled. Those big cylinders had massive fins while two anemic little fans, driven by a leather belt around the massive flywheel attempted to circulate air. I often thought that a person could cool those cylinders better with mouth power…

    Like 13
    • Howard A Member

      I knew this would hit a nerve, isn’t this what was called a “High Wheeler”? It looks mighty primitive, but for over 100 years old, it’s really not that different. Historically speaking, it was groundbreaking. These times they were a changin’, and these were some of the 1st attempts to put “Old Dobbin” out to pasture. They even looked like a motorized wagon. Obviously, speed was not the issue then, a self propelled vehicle that didn’t need to be fed when not working( like a horse) and revolutionized travel for manufacturing. A very historical vehicle indeed.

      Like 11
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Putting Dobbin out to pasture probably started a different phase of ‘Horsing Around.’ I look at this pic and think how much things have NOT changed. A bunch of not-heads and an old jalopy. I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t some alcohol involved…

        Like 21
  2. Tom schiller

    I’ve got the front page of the Chicago American paper where my grandpa got their first delivery truck just after WW1 .not much difference . Nice score on this one,enjoy it .has anyone seen a fronty Ford roadster sold in the late fifties from Fontana wisc?

    Like 1
  3. CeeOne

    My great grandfather sold these, and my grandfather broke his wrist, trying to start it without his father’s permission.

    Like 4
  4. smokeymotors

    Hey looks like a job for Jay Leno’s crew!

    Like 1
  5. K Robb

    For history about sale of this truck contact me 586-531-1155 I’m Granddaughter of Russel Pickering the owner and restorer of this truck . I witnessed the rebuilt and actual casting of parts .
    This truck was advertised under a false name to prevent other family members from knowing it was in auction as estate was run very fairly by design of my cusian who has history of abusing siblings and his two brothers .
    This truck was owned 50% by Margaret’ Pickering ( Kornhauser) as part of her mothers Estate Helen Pickering . I’m her daughter . I grew up on property next to my grandfathers farm . I personally saw my grandfather make sand mold and cast water pump as well as fabricate metal and wooden parts and sand blast metal for this truck. His old world craftsmanship and knowledge was exceptional that of which we will never see again in this day and age.. My Uncle had extensive personal estate and then there was my grandparents estate which my mother owned 50 % of in his possession which is a long story which includes some abuse and family disfunction .
    It is sad that my cousin has to be the way he has been but it was there his entire life behaviorally . And it’s a shame he passed this kind of behaviors on to his son too . He cheats at everything and is an abuser and uses any means to push to get what he wants . It has brought a lot of hurt to rest of the family inclusive of my grandmothers side of family too .Out family held a large part of Oakland county’s history . My uncles wishes was that he spent a life time saving very nice historical pieces at farm property his goal was estate be made in to further historical site and maintained with the period collection intact for public . He loved Greenfield Village and sought to
    Model farm site in that manor.
    My cousin promised my uncle to do that and rest of us. He had done nothing but take advantage for his own personal gains with his son when handling estate .
    He lost his entire family over this estate as no one is happy . We all feel the full force of the emotional abuse , that which he focused on me as small child now as adults . Bring on forensic accountants !

    Like 3
  6. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $14,153.

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