Snowbinder: 1956 International S-120 4×4

As snow is are falling here, a week after temps were in the 50s and 60s, seeing something like this 1956 International S-120 4×4 plow pickup brings me back to the nightmare that was the 2018/2019 winter, but in an I-want-to-own-it way, not in a bad way. This great looking truck can be found here on eBay in Bowling Green, Kentucky with a single bid of $5,000 and the reserve isn’t met yet. There is a $13,000 buy it now price.

This snowbinder (Cornbinder with a snowplow) is one good looking 4×4. I’m struggling to find something that I would change on this one. I guess I would fix the broken rear window and then do the usual, belts, hoses, tires, brakes, maybe door and/or window gaskets. I would have zero use for a plow so that would get set aside but it’s a fun option to have available and the seller says that it works and only takes two minutes to attach or detach.

This is one wicked tough truck, a long bed 3/4 ton 4×4. There really isn’t any rust to speak of other than surface rust and they mention a small area in the bed behind the winch that’s rusted through, but that’s it. The bed looks good and do you see that gas can in there? That’s it, that’s the gas tank, at least as of now. The seller had a gas tank made for the truck but it needs a bracket so the tank will come with the sale and the buyer will have to rig up a strap or figure something else out. I don’t know what happened with the original gas tank and they don’t say.

International’s S-Line of trucks were made from 1956 all the way to 1983, in total. The pickups were the last of the post-war trucks by American manufacturers to be updated but they were just that much more advanced when they finally came out in 1956. This truck has a 4-speed manual and they say that the 4-wheel-drive works which is good to know. Hagerty lists a #3 good condition 4×4 S-120 as being worth $13,300.

The hood opens on either side and I believe that this engine is the BD-240, or I-H’s Black Diamond 240 cubic-inch inline-six with about 135 hp. The seller says that it runs really well. Parts are available to keep this heavy-duty rig on the road so just use it as it was meant to be used, keep it maintained, and enjoy.


  1. Howard A Member

    Hey look, it’s the real Tow Mater,,,you guys were right, that character was based off a ’56 S model IH, and here I got all bent out of shape thinking it was a Task Force GM. I apologize for that. It’s not that big a deal. The S designation was used until the 80’s, but not in pickups. Fact is, this is a one year style, which makes it kind of rare, even though, they probably sold a jillion ’56 IH pickups. Amongst the farm community, which was huge in the ’50’s, this is what they bought.
    Seller is dreamin’ here, asking $13g’s and only getting one bid of $5,( and the fact the author can write this up without making light of that fact, shows his professionalism) and even THAT is too much. The plow adds nothing, no air cleaner( bad sign)winch (I suppose could come in handy) motor needs a tuneup? That’s a new one. Nice truck, really, something will need to be done to make it road friendly for today, as these typically had low gear ratios, but can be done, but best suited for back roads, which would be fine with me, but at some point, you’re going to have to take a busy road, and that’s a hassle, trust me. $13g’s,,,man, that’s so out of line. This truck needs everything, only worth a couple grand to me, only because it’s 4 wheel drive.Other than that, it’s just an old rattly door IH pickup.

    Like 5
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    Personally I think that Tow Mater was a combination of Binder and Task Force. When I first saw the movie, I was sure that Mater was a GM, which could’ve been because the local body shop had a ’56 Chevy tow truck that was just about as rusty as Mater and there were many times it lacked the hood.

    Now for this truck. If I landed something like this, it would lose the dozer blade–fast! Not enough snow in the Chinook Belt (excluding the spring of ’67 when we got six feet of snow in two weeks) to warrant having a dozer on the truck. I would be tempted to get a Quad and mount a dozer on it. This truck wouldn’t be a cruiser; it would ride like a lumber wagon and probably be tapped out at 55. Dad had one back in the day. It didn’t hold up very well so Dad got rid of it. The new owners thought it was the best truck they ever had (and still use it today). Dad found out about then that the 2WD he replaced the 4×4 with wasn’t doing any better. It turned out to be the ranch foreman, who was brutal on trucks. The foreman got traded off a short time later…

    Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      Thanks, pal, I thought Mater was more of a GM too, but that’s Hollywood, they usually aren’t too savvy on car or truck makes. Matter of fact, I was told there might be a job in Hollywood for me authenticating vehicles for movies, I declined the offer. To be honest, I liked this style more than any other IH truck of the 50’s. The ’57 I liked, and was unique too, but the stacked headlights of the late 50’s looked downright silly, I thought.

      Like 1
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Hi Howard. I guess I never thought about it much back then but the A and B model trucks were a major transition for Binder. There were so many of them out west that they were just another truck. I actually preferred the B models over the A’s but that was me.

        That could be a very interesting job authenticating vehicles for the movies. Lord knows they need somebody with some savvy. I saw a movie depicting the 40s and the first thing I saw was an International Loadstar (‘61 at the earliest). Of course Hollywood is capable of going through numerous time warps so anything is possible…

        Like 2
  3. John M.

    I have a soft spot for 1950s pickup trucks that weren’t made by the Big Three such as this International but the seller’s BIN price is a bit too much for me to pay.

  4. AZD

    Very cool truck, but the price is wrong. Regardless, this is a great project.

    For comparision, locally there is a ’56 two wheel drive half ton short bed (typically the most desirable combination) for $3K. It’s in great shape but hasn’t sold after a month or so of listing. Four wheel drive doesn’t add another $10K.

    A word of caution: IHC 4x4s use an uncomon large six wheel pattern (typically with lock ring wheels) and not-so-stout Dana 44 front axles. Unless you accept all of this for what it is you may find yourself on the path to axle swaps, etc., at which point you could have used any common 2X4 truck as the basis, and for less money. In other words, it’s a cool vintage 4×4 with some compromises and limitations. With the original engine it’ll be indestructable. Start thinking More Power and aggressive off-roading and you’ll be replacing a lot of parts.

    But if you wanted to get rid of those antiquated axles and divorced transfer case, I’d be happy to bolt them under my ’52…

    By the way, I wonder how long that Idaho truck has been in Kentucky?

    • Steve

      “Not so stout Dana 44 axles”? GM used them in 3/4 ton trucks as well. You didn’t get a Dana 60 until you stepped up to a 1 ton. Personally, I have never heard of anyone having trouble with a Dana 44 until the start going with big tires, 37″ or more and start beating on them…

      • AZD

        That’s my point exactly. The 44 is plenty for the stock configuration. But so many of these old trucks get “updated” with big wheels and tires because they’re big tough 4x4s, and big tough 4x4s need big tough monster truck tires.

        For instance: A co-worker had a son with a highboy Ford. Already it was a handful to drive and hungry for fuel, just the nature of that truck. But then the son discovered you can get surplus Humvee run-flats for cheap. Bigger, MUCH heavier, and a huge strain on the rest of the drivetrain. Bounce that extra weight around a few trails and you have a recipe for metal fragments.

        So all I’m saying is that if you go into something like this sensibly with an understanding the limitations then you’ll be fine. Otherwise the path to drivetrain reliability is long and expensive.

        Like 1
  5. Fred W

    This one is only 45 minutes from me. Have to say, looks like a 3K truck to me.

    Like 3
  6. James Martin

    Has anybody notice if it’s old it’s worth 10000 or more. Just cause it’s old with patina doesn’t make it valuable.

    Like 2
  7. BigDoc

    Way too expensive IMHO.

  8. matthew B steele

    Yep its tow mater

  9. Steve

    Cool truck. I was thinking I should contact the seller and tell him he accidentally hit the “0” one too many times, though.

  10. C5 Corvette

    I like it!

    Like 1
  11. Ken

    My cousin had a dark green ‘56 S-120 4×4 on his wheat farm in Washington in the 1980s. That little truck went absolutely everywhere. It climbed hills the square body Chevys didn’t dare attempt. When, for instance, a JD 95 would lose a half shaft on a hillside and couldn’t move, the IH would come to the rescue. The exhaust was rerouted through the passenger side front fender so as not to set the stubble on fire. It was a neat, super-reliable little rig that was also used to haul diesel to the Caterpillars for plowing, rod weeding, etc.

    The truck for sale here would be ideal for farm work. It wouldn’t have to be licensed, because it would never leave the farm, and top speed wouldn’t be an issue.

    Like 3

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