The International Harvester Pickup Truck History

The International Harvester brand was a staple in American history. At one point in time, International Harvester pickup trucks were competing with some of the biggest brands on the market. Unfortunately, a few wrong moves found the International Harvester Company losing ground in the light-duty pickup truck segment. Just recently, the International Harvester Scout has been in the news again and might get a second chance at life. So what do we know about this pickup truck’s history?

What years did International Harvester make pickup trucks?

International Harvester pickup truck history
Albert Moote’s 1959 B120 4×4 International Harvester Travelall SUV next to a 1956 S120 International Harvester Travelall in June 1964 in Los Angeles | Albert Moote/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

International Harvester was the manufacturer of pickup trucks from 1907 through 1975, LiveAbout says. International Harvester Company, sometimes known as IHC or IH, started as an agricultural and construction equipment company in 1902. IH consisted of a merger between two companies and three small manufacturers. The founding members were Cyrus Hall McCormick, William Deering, J.P. Morgan. McCormick Harvesting Machine Company joined forces with Deering Harvester company, Milwaukee; Plano; and Warder, Bushnell, and Glessner manufacturing.

The company made tractors through the early 1920s. The International Harvester Type A tractor was one of the first products made, produced from 1908 to 1911. After that, IH saw varied success with other tractors such as the Farmall H, which helped revolutionize farming. Between the Farmall and the Travelall SUV, the automaker had plenty of options for buyers.

International Harvester pickup trucks were competing with Chevy and Ford trucks

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International Light Line pickup trucks were also called the International D-Series. According to an old Hemmings article, the light-duty pickup truck had a moment in the spotlight in 1969. This was International Harvester’s first foray back into pickup trucks since 1957. IH wanted the D-Series to stand apart from previous light-duty trucks, which it did.

“International dubbed it the “Now” look, and it was the work of International Harvester styling director Ted Ornas and his small staff of designers.”

Hemmings

The company realized that trucks were no longer just for farms but were for the everyday driver. Thus, IH made the trucks updated and more comfortable. Air conditioning was an option, and power steering and radios were part of the upgraded International pickup truck.

International Harvester started offering different trim levels and exterior packages to keep up with the competition. Six-cylinder engines or V8 engines were both options. The various exterior trim packages added more chrome and hubcaps, while another added woodgrain body trim. Plus, buyers could customize the International pickup truck in 13 colors.

What year did IH stop making pickup trucks?

By that time, GM, Ford, and Chrysler, also known as The Big Three, were way ahead of International Harvester. In the 1960s, sales for light-duty trucks more than doubled. In 1960, International Harvester Company sold 667,642 light-duty pickup trucks. By 1969, Hemmings says that number was 1,601,653. However, Chevy and Ford were leading the way with sales, followed by Dodge and GMC. As a result, IH was in fifth place.

The automaker tried to switch things up in 1970 with a new look and new exterior upgrades to the truck. Unfortunately, it seemed it was too late at that point. International Harvester Company had tried to compete with the Big Three in truck design but also promised to pay the same amount through something called “pattern settlement.” Instead of taking on unions, International Harvester didn’t want to interrupt production. Trying to keep up with companies making seven or eight times the vehicles was not a financially sound decision.

However, IH continued to make pickup trucks through the early 1970s. 1973 saw a strong lineup, thanks to the Model 1010 Bonus Load. This came with a 4,800-pound weight rating and could tow a fifth wheel or conventional trailer. Unfortunately, sales for International Harvester light-duty trucks continued to drop. Truck sales began to fall across the board thanks to fuel shortages. Production for the International Harvester pickup truck stopped in 1975 and this pickup truck history was over.

The International Harvester Scout SUV might be coming back

After the International Harvester pickup truck was discontinued, the International Harvester Scout came to life. This was an SUV created to compete with Jeeps of the time. It came in a few variations with two doors, four doors, and various wheelbases. After the International Harvester Company ceased to exist, Volkswagen acquired Navistar, which owned the Scout name. Fast forward to 2022, and Volkswagen might be bringing the Scout back as an electric off-roading SUV to compete with the Ford Bronco. In conclusion, some competitions are never over.

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