Travelette: 1973 International Harvester 1210

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International Harvester is perhaps best known for its farm equipment, but they were also in the truck business for a time. They were always overshadowed by the “ Big 3” Detroit automakers but did accomplish at least one first: the Travelette was the first production crew cab pickup with seating for six. It was produced from 1957 to 1975 with one redesign in 1969. This 1973 version is a 1210 ¾-ton 4WD truck that comes complete with a topper for those interested in camping or keeping cargo safe. With a lot of recent work done, this workhorse is in Bourbonnais, Illinois, and is available here on eBay where the current bid is $11,300. But there’s a reserve still waiting to be tested.

At first, the Travelette was offered with three doors, but it was expanded to four in ’61. Sales were never at the level of its main competitors, so IH decided to exit the light and medium-duty truck market in 1975, choosing to focus its attention on the Scout II SUV for the next five years. Two wheelbase lengths were offered (149 inches and 164) which we assume the longer applies to the seller’s truck.

As the story goes, this truck originated in California and its first owner had it until 2018. At that time, the seller bought it and the pickup found its way to Illinois. Rust has been held to a minimum and the light blue/white paint was redone sometime in the 1980s, yet it still holds up at 115,000 miles. The interior is original and looks nice, though there is a cover over the front seat to either prevent wear or mask a lot of use.

Under the hood resides a 392 cubic inch V8 paired with a TorqueFlite automatic transmission. The Travelette has been treated to lots of new stuff, including but not limited to, gas tanks, electronic ignition, a rebuilt steering box, and a brake booster. The radiator has been re-cored and the exhaust system is new along with the wheels and off-road tires. For passenger comfort, the air conditioning has been updated to 134A standards. All-in-all- this seems like a nice truck with lots of service left in it.

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Comments

  1. Richard E Soules

    I have the same truck but mine is a 5 speed standard. still have the topper that came on it.

    Like 3
  2. Richard E Soules

    Same year but 5-speed n mine has bucket seats with and a console in the center.

    Like 3
  3. Connecticut mark

    Beautiful photos and truck, 4×4,, 8 foot bed which you can use, air works, just redo front seat , add a Holley sniper fuel injection, Bluetooth radio and go to work, will be many thousands less than a new 4×4 with all digital junk and back up camera which I would never use.

    Like 21
  4. Jon Rukavina

    I’m with you on the digital junk, exactly what it is.
    Very unusual truck with 4 doors and optioned like it is. Very cool .
    Saw one of these, regular cab, at a car show a few years ago. Also had the upgraded interior, air, and AM-FM. A conversation piece.
    Neighbor in my hometown had a ’68. I worked at a service station and I found out the hard way to pump gas in slowly after a couple of geyser shots to my clothes.

    Like 16
    • J Freedline

      Yea , the filler neck made a sharp turn. You had to gas in slowly. Even the first notch on the handle was too fast. You had to ease it in !!

      Like 0
  5. geomechs geomechsMember

    My Dad had a ’69 1200D 2WD Shortbox Travelette. It was one of the few that had factory bucket seats. 392 with Warner Gear automatic transmission. Had some transmission and A-C problems the latter that they could NOT seem to resolve, until a “One Component at a Time” replacement program eventually exposed an evaporator that would hold perfect vacuum for FOUR days but when pressured up was good for maybe 20 miles. That truck handled everything we could throw at it and came back for more.

    Stories abound about an explanation why Binder got out of the light truck business. I was talking to a former dealer principal at work last Thursday. He was from the Chicago area and had a lot of interesting theories.

    Back in the day, everyone was building light, medium and heavy duty trucks. GM and Ford had a good comfortable clientele but Dodge and International had some problems. Apparently IH and Chrysler got together in the early 70s and made a deal: Dodge was to discontinue its medium and heavy duty line and Binder would discontinue its light line in trade. That way the only competition they had to deal with was Ford and GM. Well, Binder would have the other big truck builders too but their volume was always predictable.

    I never heard that but it sure makes sense; Dodge did quit the larger trucks at about the same time as Binder did the small ones. There was some skuttlebutt about the IH dealers not wanting much to do with the small trucks and that could’ve had some influence as well. But you’ve got to realize that both Chrysler and International were having problems, most of which were manufacturing facilities that desperately needed major upgrades. Interest rates were climbing daily and they both needed a break.

    Anyways…

    Now this truck: Looks really good. I sure wouldn’t kick it off my driveway. Not all that fussy about a long box crew cab as you’d need some major room to turn around in. I’m not wild about converting an older A-C system to 134 when the R-12 system worked just fine. Of course if they replaced everything then it would be a different matter. I’ve used R-12 substitute, which is essentially propane and it works just fine. You can even use the original spec A-C oil. But then, if this system works as is, there’s no sense in changing it back again…

    Like 21
    • HoA HoAMember

      Hardly any IH post gets past this guy folks. Fact is, when I see the post, I almost hope for your input. The causes for a manufacturers shift in products could fill a warehouse. I never heard that about IH/Chrysler either, I think the last Dodge C series was the Bighorn in ’75, and IH was top of the heap in heavy duty trucks. Until a certain ferrin’ truck took care of that market.
      I know many might feel sorry for IH, that for many was the only truck they’d buy, but they cut their own throats, and never regained the glory of that old Cornbinder racking up the miles, delivering Americas goods,,,snif, oh well,,

      Like 11
    • Frog Man

      Outstanding input thanks!

      Like 1
  6. CCFisher

    It seems odd that anything this large would be named with an “-ette” suffix.

    While it’s true that by the time this truck came along, International’s light-duty trucks were just about dead, there were times in I-H’s earlier history when it gave the competition a good run for their money, occasionally ranking third behind Ford and Chevrolet (there really wan’t a “Big 3” in the truck market back then; Dodge wasn’t the big player it is today).

    Like 4
  7. Nikc8778

    I grew up on International trucks. Learned to drive on a ’64 C-1100 pickup with a four on the floor. International never quite grasped the concept of a “comfortable, car-like” truck. Their trucks were built to WORK, like their farm tractor cousins and their medium and heavy duty big brothers. Smooth rides are for sissies. We don’t build ElCaminos and Rancheros around here, our name is International HARVESTER. Their drivetrains were bulletproof (their bodies were not–despite extensive use of galvanizing, bullet-sized rust holes would develop in those fenders and floorpans after a few years.) And sadly, just as the pickup truck market was about to go into orbit, IH stopped building them altogether. I often wonder what might have been if the company could have held on a little longer, maybe found enough money for a nice looking redesign, until they started selling enough pickups to really help the bottom line (We know that if it weren’t for the profits produced by their trucks, Ford and GM might well have ceased to exist by now.)

    Like 7
  8. Harvey HarveyMember

    I took a drivers test in one of these when I was in the Navy. Battleship gray, four speed, rubber floor and no creature comforts. Long and smooth. This would be fun to have for a short drive. For me nothing wrong with backup camera, and modern electronics on my daily driver. I can appreciate old and new vehicles. Mine go from 1941 to 2023.

    Like 6
    • Jeff Tingle

      Harvey, my first experience was with an International truck was a USAF lavatory service truck. Just couldn’t seem to get the seat/steering wheel/ pedals settings to work for me… Passed up a chance in 1995 to buy an early 1970s Travelall that was in almost new condition. Sure regret that now…

      Like 2
  9. David

    IH was in the truck business for way more “than a time”

    Like 3
  10. BleedNRed

    That would make one helluva sweet hunting rig…

    Like 3
  11. Anthony Gaby

    Gauges look just like mine in my ’75 Chevelle…

    Like 2
  12. Ken

    It’s a 13 letter manure spreader 😂 Sherman tank for sure! I see a $3000 truck
    But then again I used to buy’63 Chevy Impala’s all day long for $100😉

    Like 0
  13. Sammy_Q

    I had one, the battery would die, and electrical ‘experts’ could not figure it out. My 7-year-old niece asked why the lights (backup lights) stayed on during the day. If I backed up into my parking space and left the gear shift in reverse the backup lights would stay on and knock the battery down.

    Like 0

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