Patrick Ernzen ©2016, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
  • 100-hp, 220.5-ci OHV inline 6-cylinder engine
  • 3-speed manual transmission
  • Solid front axle, Hotchkiss-type full floating rear axle
  • Four-wheel drum brakes
  • Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection
  • Original, unrestored, and quite amazing
  • Excellent factory paint and interior
  • Known history with only three owners from new
  • Just over 35,500 actual miles

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1953 International R-110 Travelall 2-door wagon
Years Produced:1953–56
Number Produced:35,830 (all 1953 R-110s, not broken down by body type)
Original List Price:$1,788
SCM Valuation:Median to date, $19,800 (all Travelall)
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$20
Chassis Number Location:Driver’s side frame rail, aft of the bumper bracket, weight rating plate on the edge of the driver’s side door
Engine Number Location:Driver’s side front of the block
Club Info:National International Harvester Collectors Club Inc.
Alternatives:1948–54 Chevrolet and GMC Suburban Carryall, 1957–65 Dodge Town Wagon, 1946–63 Willys Jeep station wagon
Investment Grade:C

This truck, Lot 172, sold for $31,900, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s auction in Phoenix, AZ, on January 19, 2017. It was offered without reserve.

International Harvester was fairly late to the game of building what was then known as a “carryall” — essentially a truck-based wagon now generically lumped into the modern category of Sport Utility Vehicle. The instigator (as far as being a regularly cataloged, factory-built model) was the Chevrolet Suburban. GMC also eventually fielded one, and Dodge also offered one shortly before World War II (and during that conflict, as the VC-6 and WC-17).

With the post-war market boom, the once-limited demand for this type of truck increased. International Harvester wasn’t exactly a newcomer to this, as they cataloged wood-bodied wagons from outside body makers, and their panel trucks were converted to passenger wagons by several upfitters both before and after the war. But in 1952, IHC decided to go head-to-head with the Suburban with its own model: the Travelall. Several prototypes were built on the 1950–52 L-series trucks. Travelalls were formally introduced along with the revised R-series in early 1953.

This proved to be a good move for International, as the Travelall became something of a calling card for the light-line trucks. By the end of the decade, it was recognized as the tow rig du jour for those who were into travel trailers — especially among those who fancied Airstreams.

While the Travelall was only around for 22 years (ending production along with all light-line trucks — but not Scouts — in May 1975), it was to become one of International’s most iconic models. Despite the limited competition from the smaller Willys Jeep station wagons before 1963 and the Gladiator pickup-based Jeep Wagoneer after, most folks considered the Travelall the only real competitor to the Suburban — and some considered it superior.

Original character

The original owner of our featured Travelall must have likely felt that way. He purchased this first-year Travelall and kept it until he died, despite the fact that he could no longer drive after a few years of owning it and 30,000 miles of use. It changed ownership twice before this auction — most recently in 2000 — and it’s evident those caretakers realized how much of a rare time capsule this truck was.

Overall, this Travelall shows maintained limited use. It was not simply left to rot in storage. The only repaint work was done on the wheels, likely when a tire change occurred. The original body paint shows some light scarring and areas of buffing scratches from the few miles it has traveled.

Since the two-tone paint treatment on the pickups extended down to the body character line terminating at the front fenders in the middle of the hood sides, some may question the authenticity of the two-toning here. Corporate photos and literature do prove that two-tone Travelalls left the factory in Springfield, OH, like this.

While the interior is as spartan as a school bus, it’s a bus straight out of 1953. The school-bus-grade seats are very well preserved, as are rare pieces like the original full-length cardboard headliner and carpeting (neither of which are currently reproduced accurately). Another rarity — something I’ve never seen survive — is the early-production water-transfer Travelall decal above the radio-delete blanking plate.

The optional rear liftgate/tailgate (double side-opening “barn doors” were standard) functions smoothly, and the doors (each of which may contain more heavy-gauge steel than an entire Kia) close effortlessly. While a bit dingy on the undercarriage and under the hood, neither area has had a fluff-and-buff. Both remain essentially undisturbed — just maintained as needed.

Well-bought ’Binder

This was the buy of the auction, and that’s not my admitted IH loony bias talking, either. The market continues to be attuned to old trucks, barn finds, and originality, and this rig certainly fit the bill.

Some may suggest that it fell through the cracks at this price, but I’m not decisively of that opinion, as the word was out that this was on the market, so buyers in the Cornbinder community should’ve been in a position to take a grab at it. If anything about this venue hurt it, it may have been the perception that “all them rich Ferrari and Duesenberg guys” would drive the price out of reach of your average truck collector. If “them rich guys” were chasing it, they certainly didn’t pay too much.

Before the auction, I figured that it was going to fetch in the neighborhood of $40k, and anything less would be well bought. Now, playing Monday morning quarterback, I’d say there’s money left on the table. Past market performance in recent years shows this, as newer restored examples have brought more than this, along with a few restored R-series pickups.

At other venues during this week, original post-war light-duty trucks saw sales records that caused price guides to be tossed into the nearest trash can. Why this Travelall failed to hammer over $30k was likely due to several factors — not the least of which was that RM Sotheby’s usual high-end buyers weren’t all that interested in a frumpy-looking old green truck that isn’t from brand C or brand F, and the high-end catalog atmosphere at RM Sotheby’s could have scared off traditional truck and IHC collectors.

Regardless, the last one standing as the hammer dropped got a very good deal for a vehicle — car or truck — with a unique combination of rarity, options, and originality. Well bought.

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)

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