Shortest One Made: International Harvester 100 KB-1

As we’ve seen on these pages many times, the shorter wheel base or short-box beds found on vintage trucks can make all the difference in how badly an enthusiast wants to own it. In addition to just generally looking better than their long wheelbase siblings, they also respond very well to custom modifications, from slammed suspensions to bodacious wheel and tire combos. This 1948 International Metro van here on eBay is said to be shortest one made, and a potential show truck in the making.

Specifically, the seller mentions that a show like SEMA would make a nice debut stage for a customized version of this truck. However, I wonder just how far you really need to go: I wouldn’t touch the exterior, and aside from the requisite suspension work needed to support an aggressively low setup, there’s little else I’d touch on the outside. I’d save my pennies for a modern drivetrain and modernized interior that makes traveling in this Metro van a comfortable experience.

And really, it’s a blank slate inside. There’s nothing stopping you from getting some inspiration from a 70s boogie van and installing lush carpets and couches, along with tables and some swiveling captain’s chairs to really make this Metro van one that you and all of your friends can enjoy. However, I wouldn’t go turn up my nose at a more traditional conversion with shelves and storage racks that keep this working van a functional specimen that can haul while still looking good.

This Boyertown-Ford van is on the same Georgia property we’ve been marketing here on Barn Finds¬†as an Exclusive (most recent update, Round 4, can be found here) and while not a desirable short wheelbase van, it still has the same appeal of a potentially bad-ass cruiser with plenty of room for customization. There’s a rabid fanbase for vintage work vans like this International and the Ford pictured above, but they do require the commitment to executing a far-reaching conversion.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Due to what’s offered today in RV’s, it’s obvious, some folks don’t want some 35 ft. living room pulled by a Mack truck, or some barge tour bus and many are turning to these step vans. This was IH’s answer to the Divco featured earlier. They are almost impossible to find today whole, as these racked up hundreds of thousands of CITY miles, and when the motor gave out, or fell out, they became tool sheds out back. The only feasible thing for this, is do what the person did with the Divco, plop the body on a modern dually pickup chassis and be done with it. As for the inside, the sky’s the limit.

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Speaking of motors Howard, I do not see a spot for one? As for your tool shed comment, probably right with this one. I am guessing the plywood cover next to the seat is hiding the mounts?

      • Howard A Member

        Hey Mike, how you been? Snow melt up at the north pole yet? The motor was under that cowl in the middle next to the seat. I didn’t want to copy BaT, but you can see here where it went. You know, that could be a problem for a resto-mod. If keeping this chassis, probably best to keep the 6, and work from there.
        https://bringatrailer.com/2015/08/20/restored-1957-international-harvester-metro-step-van/

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        LOL! Thank the good Lord, the white trash is gone! Thanks for the link, clears it up nicely. I know nothing about the newer motors, but I see a lot of posts here that recomend small turbos and so on. Ya know, without that huge air cleaner, it looks like a decent size engine compartment. Take care Bud, Mike.

  2. ken tilly

    Peugeot clone.

  3. Wayne

    I had a long wheelbase version as hay storage for my FFA project. It had no wheels, tires or drivetrain. It also had no rust, which was very strange for Northern Illinois. I left it sitting between 2 oak trees when I moved away to go to college. I have thought many times what I could do with that today. Oh well, 46 years and 2,000 miles away. I’m sure that there are trees sprouting through the floor now.

  4. misterlou

    Good ole Raymond Loewy.

  5. Jeffro

    Be a good spot for a Dodge Cummings turbo diesel!

  6. Scott Sabinson

    There’s a food truck near me that has one of these as their kitchen.

    10
    • r s

      Now that’s a beauty – if the guy sells the business, the truck itself is worth most of the price.

      Over the years my dad was a home delivery milkman, he sold Bowes Seal-Fast products and tires to gas stations, he was in the wholesale egg business and also in the vending machine business. We had more step vans and small trucks over the years than I can count. Divco, Ford / Boyertown, more than a few with Chevy chassis on them, I’ll have to dig out photos of them someday.

      • Tracy

        I would like the copies of the photos with the Boyertown trucks.

  7. 86_Vette_Convertible

    You know, in the ad I see no reference to a drivetrain. Neither in the pictures nor in the text. Might make a difference.

  8. Johnmloghry

    Let your imagination go wild with this vehicle, I can picture in my mind this as a really cool camping van. With my wife needing dialysis three times a week 4 hours at a time with left leg amputated we no longer travel so it’s out for me but I sure would have loved to have given it a shot at my dreams.
    God bless America

  9. moosie Member

    seeing this jiggled my memory about vans of this type i remember that the driver was standing up right while driving which posed the question i had back then and still have now, how did they manage to start off on a hill , gas, brake, clutch, + standing ?

    • Howard A Member

      I don’t remember any “stand-up” Metro’s, that was more of a Divco thing. Divcos had hand throttles and brakes, in addition to foot controls, enabling the driver to stand up and drive the 40 feet to the next delivery. These were more for package delivery, like a FedEx or UPS truck today.

      • moosie Member

        Then it probably was a Divco. That was a long time ago, I saw a local dairy delivering milk on their route, the guy would jump out while the truck looked like it was still moving and then stop , go up to the house leave the milk, butter, or eggs , pick up the empties and trot back to his truck and continue on to his next stop after getting that next stops order ready all the time standing up. I never saw them sitting but I suppose they did. In N.Y. there was also Dugans, they had baked goods and did home deliveries with the same sort of vehicles cause it was a similar routine to the milkmans, their slogan, at least around here was, “Thomas’s promises but Dugans delivers”

  10. Al

    This van was originally owned by Arrow-myth.

    Merican nose-pickers should be notified.

    Its probably worth hundreds of thousands Pesos

    13
    • James

      This is the original Jenkins Decorator van!

  11. geomechs Member

    I remember these were actually more common than the Divcos when I was a kid. It depended on who was the buyer for the two dairies that operated then. I wouldn’t mind having either one. I did notice that a lot of these have been converted to lunch wagons. They do OK with them as well.

  12. Kenneth Carney

    My buddies and I built one of these for another friend who was confined to a wheelchair, but could drive a vehicle by using hand controls. We started with a used up shell we found in a junkyard for $50. Next, we picked up a 200 6 and an
    auto tranny from a wrecked ’64 Falcon sedan and I think we used the rear axle that came with the truck. Once we got it running and driving, we repaired the floors, insulated the walls, and added an A/C unit from an RV. We also added a Tommy lift to the rear of the truck to load and unload the wheelchair once the truck was parked. With the help of our Auto Shop teacher, we rebuilt all the mechanical stuff I mentioned so that it would perform as new and make the truck safe and dependable to drive. The driver’s seat was removed so that our friend could wheel himself up to the steering wheel, set the brakes on the wheelchair, and drive the truck using the hand controls that we mounted to the vehicle. An electrician friend of mine wired some solenoids into the rear doors to open them when the Tommy lift was lowered or raised to load or unload the chair. This could be done by flipping the switch near the rear doors, or from the driver’s seat. We capped it off by painting it creamy yellow with a black passenger’s seat. Don’t recall what we covered the walls with, but our friend was tickled pink when we gave him the keys to take it for a spin. Oh yeah, we put the same slotted rims on it with fat tires to make it corner better. In all, we had $2K in the project when we gave the van to him. That same van today would run north of $300K today. If I could do it again, I would do it all again. There’s a lot of folks out there that could use a van like the one we built so long ago. Seeing this one brought all the memories back. Thanks!

    • Neal

      Nice story!

  13. Wayne

    My conversion would be some power (Cummins sounds good) for towing race car trailer with a couple of fold up, good, sized, comfortable bunk beds, a large shower, refer and stove. A cheap small window A/C unit to plug in at the racetrack and an awning.

  14. Butchb

    Yep, had one in the yard for many years as a storage van and always admired the styling.

  15. George

    Great shell, no drivetrain. Perfect for taking the running gear out of a wrecked Tesla and kitting this out as electric.

  16. Kenneth Carney

    Holy crap George! I never really thought
    about it while I was looking at it but you’re right! Just slap some solar panels
    on the roof to trickle charge the batteties
    while you drive ir or park it, and you’ll have a real winner! Let me crunch some
    numbers and I’ll tell you how much it’s
    gonna cost. You won’t need Tesla parts
    for the drivetrain, so the 800 pound gorilla
    in the room will be the battery cost. Lithium Ion stscks would be the best way
    to go for batteries and that quick charge
    device that BMW is using now is icing on
    the cake. The plan would be to have a 2
    position charging system that you’ll need
    to give you any kind of range at all. Thanks for the thought man! At least I’m
    not the only electric car guy up here. It
    would indeed make a great electric wheel
    chair van wouldn’t it?

  17. rod444

    Bidding already over 7k but reserve not met. That’s a pretty valuable shell.

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