Ready To Restore: 1946 International Metro

Need a loaf of bread? How about a Marshall amplifier? (more on that one later) This 1946 International Harvester Metro is one of the most versatile vehicles of all time. Used by tradespeople and delivery services alike, there was a time when the Metro was seen everywhere in America. This Guthrie, Oklahoma domiciled example actually runs so it’s definitely worth a closer look. It is available, here on craigslist for $11,000. Thanks to Ikey H. for this unusual tip!

International Harvester produced the Metro from 1938 until 1975 with styling courtesy of the famous industrial designer, Raymond Lowey. Lowey was a disciple of aerodynamic design and he incorporated those principles into much of his work including the Metro van.  Metro van bodies were produced in Connecticut by the independent Metropolitan Body Company, a firm that International later purchased. The Metro came in different carrying capacities, and several different series, but through its long run, it never strayed far from its origin. In some respect, Metros were like Crown Victoria police cars. After the Interceptor’s initial 100K miles of use, they entered their second life as taxicabs, livery service, or personal use vehicles for at least another 100K miles. Same with the Metro – I used to manage a punk-rock band and the group’s leader bought a well-used, former bakery owned Metro to haul around drums, amps, sound towers, guitars, etc. Hardly luxurious accommodations but it got the job done cheaply.

The seller of this 1 ton Metro says that he’s selling it because he found a finished version. He states, “Perfect restoration candidate which is why we bought her.” The body on this Metro, and there’s a lot of metal here, is in fair shape but it is hardly rust free. It’s mostly straight too though there are a few minor bends and bows in the sheet steel. There is a curious mix of faded paint and substantial surface rust but that may be the result of sanding off the old, tired beige finish and then not priming it, leaving the bare steel exposed. Note the telephone number on the rear right flank, the exchange, AD7, is an old alpha-numeric combination probably not used since the mid-’60s.

Under the cab hatch, is a 220 CI, in-line six-cylinder, flat-head engine. The seller claims, “She runs, drives, and even stops.” As to how well this Metro performs those functions remains to be seen. There is no mileage listed so the engine may or may not need internal work. A standard three-speed manual transmission is in place with an optional rock in front of the rear left-wheel, ostensibly to keep this Metro from heading off on its own.

The interior, spartan as it is, is a blank canvas, or maybe a blank tin can. Whatever the case, it can be built-out as whatever the new owner intends this Metro to be. There is little to note here other than the original instrument panel that is completely intact and only suffering some minor surface corrosion on the face of its very period correct dials. The long-ago business purpose of this van was “Portable something or another”, the exterior name is faded and obscured and there is no remaining interior trace of its former lot in life.

So, what to do with this Metro? The world’s your oyster though using it for any sort of daily driving, delivery, etc. is probably going to be more of a challenge than most are up for. Even using this van as a converted camper will be arduous with its existing powertrain. Future plans here are a head-scratcher for me, what do you recommend?

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Comments

  1. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    When you referenced the haulage of amps, I thought you were speaking about the old Aerosmith Metro van. Glad to see they weren’t the only ones!

    Like 10
  2. Howard A Member

    Shows how popular American Pickers is, I too thought this may be related to the Aerosmith van, although, that van wasn’t half this nice. These literally were everywhere in a big city. Before mega grocery stores, these vans slogged through city alleys to every mom and pop store, day after day. They never left town and geared accordingly, so any travel will need an update. Most became tool sheds out back, so to see one even remotely operational, is a great find. Be advised, it will handle like a toaster on wheels, but the sky is the limit here.

    Like 6
  3. FrankFitz

    I worked for United Parcel Service on east side of Detroit back in early 1970’s and became very familiar with these “Metro” models as we had 2 of them assigned to East Center. I loaded, unloaded; daily washed and daily gassed the trucks during my college tour of duty. I remember the UPS assigned numbers 3224 and 3225 , both 1947 models with well over 250,000 tough stop and go city mikes at the time. UPS fastidious in vehicle cleanliness and maintenance back then. These were Very maneuverable in tight spots; unforgiving hard edges and reasonably peppy. Makes me smile

    Like 14
  4. dlong

    Looks like it says portable welding on the van.

    Like 2
  5. Solosolo ken tilly UK Member

    Strange coincidence, I watched the two episodes of the American Pickers “Aerosmith” van restoration on UK TV only yesterday, where the “resto” ended with very little of the original van left besides the frame and half the body.

    Like 3
  6. BKE

    When I was on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, 1960-64, these vans were utilized by the hundreds on airbases. Painted Air Force blue, they were used to delivery supplies, equipment, parts, etc. on bases.

    Like 2
  7. AndyinMA

    I worked on one of these in my body shop a few years ago, that was a lot of sanding, priming, etc. A single stage blue and white paint job and she looked like a million bucks. I had a bear of a time trying to move it around the shop however, using a couple of buckets for a seat really complicated things.

    Like 3
  8. Miguel

    There is a You Tube channel by the name of RESTORED that has a few of these.

    I am going to assume the price is wrong here. How could anybody pay that price then have to restore it?

    Like 2
  9. Lance

    Sorry guys it’s about a $2500 truck. $11,000???? Thanks American Pickers.

    Like 8
  10. Neal in Boston

    You asked what to do with it?
    I’ve been dreaming of restoring one of these for an imaginary Waffle Wagon business for years, but they are so expensive!
    Someone near me in Boston fixed up the shell of one and converted it into a stationary snack shop at an outdoor market area.
    They are really cool!

  11. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Check out where the gear selector lever is, behind the driver where it goes down to the transmission. That would be in the way for a lot of storage space. I reckon if you put some comfortable seats in there you could crawl around town in a style different from most others.
    God bless America

    Like 1
  12. Russell

    OK, I know it is not the same vehicle … but, the movie Jeepers Creepers immediately came to mind

    Like 1
  13. Christopher Boles

    We had Metro vans in Vietnam for running around the airbase. These were fun to drive and I didn’t mind the shifter being a bit back. We put a pair of longboards on each side for seats. Make into a milk truck.

  14. Phlathead Phil

    IF ONLY Inert-National Truck Co., would get their act together and start building these again they would be in the big chips in no time!!!

    This truck has both style and class.

    Not like these hideous vans rolling about today.

    Like 1
  15. matt

    The metro’s were sort of fun, but really cold in the wintertime. It was what was used to haul us from the hangar to the flight line when I was in the Air Force and at Wright-Patterson.
    We used them there and on our bases in Thailand, and probably in lots of other places well. We also towed a host of auxiliary support power equipment out to the planes with those.
    matt

  16. vintagehotrods

    I bought one of these off the back lot of Duke Tufty Dodge in Sioux Falls, SD in 1972 for about $300. Why did I buy it? I’m still wondering what the hell I was thinking, but I don’t have a clue! I remember it was really big, the long wheelbase version, and painted a faded school bus yellow. I was into motorcycles back then and it had a ton of room inside, so maybe that was why I bought it. It shelled out the rear end not long after I bought it, so I got my first taste of working on a big truck. It was full floater rear end so I pulled the axles out a bit and pulled out that huge pumpkin. I must have been a lot stronger back then at 20 years old. I found a used one at Ogdie Brothers Salvage for $50, put it all back together and sold it quick! I had had enough of heavy truck repair! I also had a GM version step van that was much smaller that I hauled my racing bikes in for a time. That’s just another one of the crazy things I did back then!

  17. JOHN Member

    For a really nice resto-mod Metro, check out the TV series Iron Resurrection, The truck was built as a surprise for their upholsterer Cato. That truck was sweet!

  18. Brian

    As far as what it began its work life as , that faded yellow and the Red Dan – Dee? top of rear door ,right side replaced? would have been a potato chip truck,Dan- Dee was a Cleveland institution way back when,just a guess though. Mill Supply Cleveland Ohio sells alot of Stephanie parts ,this one will have them going way back though,but they do advertise one that they helped restore with parts .

  19. Brian

    As far as what it began its work life as , that faded yellow and the Red Dan – Dee? top of rear door ,right side replaced? would have been a potato chip truck,Dan- Dee was a Cleveland institution way back when,just a guess though. Mill Supply Cleveland Ohio sells alot of Step Van parts ,this one will have them going way back though,but they do advertise one that they helped restore with parts .

  20. Beemoe

    If you are ever in DC, look up Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats . He runs a Metro frozen yogurt truck and his treats are to die for. Plus he serves them up in vintage uniforms. You will not be disappointed.

    http://www.mmmgoodies.com/

  21. Donna

    My husband and I just bought this truck in Oklahoma. We plan to use it to sell products and promote honeybees at local events. We cannot wait to see how it will look once we restore it. What fun!

    Like 1

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