Courtesy of Leake Auctions
  • 240-ci 6-cylinder engine
  • Manual 4-speed transmission
  • Nut-and-bolt restoration
  • Factory custom trim package
  • Three-row seating
  • Factory overhead radio
  • Wide white tires

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1960 International B-110 Travelall
Years Produced:1953–75
Number Produced:Not defined (records at the time of production only show total of all trucks built at a given plant)
Original List Price:$2,890
SCM Valuation:Median to date, $33,000; high sale, $36,180
Tune Up Cost:$250
Distributor Caps:$20
Chassis Number Location:Driver’s side frame rail, in the vicinity of the steering box, stamped on the capacity plate riveted to the driver’s door
Engine Number Location:Boss on the left side of the engine block towards the front
Club Info:National International Harvester Collectors Club
Alternatives:1955–59 Chevrolet Suburban, 1955–59 GMC Suburban Carryall, 1954–66 Dodge Town Wagon
Investment Grade:C+

This truck, Lot 461, sold for $33,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Leake Auction in Dallas, TX, on December 5, 2015.

A Suburban’s worst nightmare

While International Harvester built panel trucks that aftermarket vendors fitted with windows and rear seats dating back to the early 1940s, the Chevrolet Suburban lost its monopoly on truck-based, steel-bodied station wagons in 1953 with the introduction of the Travelall.

Sure, there were the post-war Willys wagons, but they were marketed against car-based wagons (in essence this was the first cross-over) instead of as a station wagon on steroids.

The Travelall was introduced along with the R-series line of trucks — a refresh on IH’s post-war L-series of 1950 — and included the industry’s first factory-installed optional four-wheel drive. In one fell swoop, the Suburban had a like-for-like competitor that continually upped the ante for the next 22 years.

By 1957, the Travelall was an integral part of IH’s Light Line. As this was the 50th anniversary of International Harvester building trucks, they celebrated with the introduction of an all-new line, the A-series (for Anniversary).

Part of this line was International’s first wide-side pickup box. While it was not offered as standard equipment like Ford (most were built as limited-edition Golden Jubilees), this Custom series styling was mimicked in IH’s panel van and Travelall.

While the Chevy Suburban could also now be equipped with 4-wheel drive, IH fitted another door on the curbside to the new Travelall, making it three (this was also done on their industry-first crew cab Travelette — which also premiered with the A-line).

GM was always a step behind the truck-based wagon-door count. IH added a fourth door when the Travelall body was shaved and lowered for 1961. GM added a third door for their new 1967 trucks and finally sprouted four doors for 1973. However, GM had the last laugh, as IH left the light truck market in 1975 — but built Travelalls up until the last day of production.

I should’ve had a V8 — or is a six fine?

Introduced during 1959, the lightly revised B-series ushered in quad headlights (for IH, stacked one atop the other) and the option of a V8 engine.

International’s Silver and Black Diamond series of OHV 6-cylinder engines were as good as any in the light-truck industry, but with a market growing enamored with V8s, International needed to follow suit.

IH actually introduced three new V8 engines that year, but only the smallest-displacement 266-ci unit found its way into the Light Line.

Aside from the color of the background paint on the hood trim (going from black to argent), the biggest change for 1960 was making the V8 standard equipment, with the Black Diamond 240-ci 6-cylinder engine a no-cost option. Our subject truck is so equipped, and I suspect it was ordered for a frugal customer who wanted time-proven economical performance over a more-complicated engine. Another option on this truck is the 4-speed manual transmission, as the “three-on-the-tree” was standard.

One thing that I think hurts the market for this Travelall is the Black Diamond 6-cylinder engine under the hood instead of the V8. Not that it’s any better or worse with either motor, as both are within spitting distance for displacement, horsepower and torque.

Unlike the engine choices for the Suburban, both IH engines were designed from the onset as truck engines for low-end torque. They were not higher-revving car engines dropped into trucks.

However, the auto industry’s pervasive marketing for the past six decades convinced most of us of: “V8 good; anything else, not as good.” So most everyone wants a V8.

One of the growing uses of these vintage Travelalls and Suburbans today is towing vintage camping trailers, where the perception is that the most powerful modern engine you can stuff under the hood is needed to tow one.

Thing is, that mindset is so far from the truth it’s silly.

Way back — say 55 years ago — one of the top markets for Travelalls was the burgeoning camping market. Travelalls were the way to go, especially for the followers of Wally Byam, the builder of the aluminum Airstream trailer.

Byam led lots of caravans, and the Travelall was the tow rig of choice. An Airstream and a Travelall go together like pie and ice cream. If anything, there was more of a preference towards the three-quarter-ton models rather than I6 engines versus V8 engines. Indeed, for someone who’s serious about towing, our featured rig is hurt more by being a half-ton rather than by what’s under the hood. Keep it out of the fast lane on the Interstate Highway, or just follow the original Lincoln Highway, and it’ll do just fine.

Towing the line in the market

Our featured Travelall has made the rounds of the auction circuit throughout the Midwest in recent years.

I first reported on it when it crossed the block at Mecum’s Kansas City auction in December 2014, being declared sold at $36,180. It has reappeared in at least two auctions since — at the Branson auction in April of last year, where I reported it was a no-sale at $33,000 (against a stated $45k reserve), and then selling at Leake’s recent Dallas auction, which prompted this report.

Both times that I’ve laid my peepers upon it, it was unchanged except for having a few more miles. The truck has a lot of eyeball at the initial look, but it lacked in details upon closer scrutiny.

In particular, I was not at all impressed with a haphazard installation of the trim after the repaint — and that the driver’s door was difficult to latch properly (if at all). Cornbinders may not have had jewel-like fit and finish, but at least they function.

Having not witnessed its sale at Leake Dallas, I can’t say whether these issues had been resolved. Overall, this Travelall gave me the impression that it was made up pretty to flip for as much cash as possible — instead of being a home-spun restoration that meant well but couldn’t quite nail it.

Three years ago, vintage truck prices — especially vintage SUVs — were rocketing up. Since then, the market has stabilized markedly, with only no-excuses showboats still bringing crazy money.

As such, our Travelall’s most recent sale reflects its place in the market. Bought and sold for about where it belongs — and hopefully the new owner got a tow rig for a single-axle Airstream. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Leake Auctions.)

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