Limo Meets Labor: 1974 IH Travelette

IH 74 TR-1L II
By Jim Allen 

Four-door pickups are so popular these days that it’s actually hard to find a regular-cab long bed. That wasn’t the case before the new millennium, and certainly not in the mid-1970s.

In early 1974, an oil executive in Oklahoma ordered a new pickup — that’s right, a pickup, not a luxury car. You don’t show up to the oil fields in a limo if you want to command respect from roughnecks, but oil execs sometimes needed to carry VIPs. So he ordered a special pickup: a Travelette crew cab from International Harvester.

Showing up to an oil rig in a limo-long, two-tone IH 200 series pickup is a base hit with the roughneck crowd. Since it’s a rarely seen 166-inch wheelbase crew-cab long bed, perhaps you get a double. And since it’s powered by IH’s biggest light-truck V-8, the 392-cubic-inch four-barrel with factory dual exhausts likely gets you to third base. The fact that you sign the paychecks probably brings you to home plate. Ordering every possible comfort option is just for yourself.

In early 1974, IH trucks were on the way up. The new D-Series pickups that debuted in 1969 were light-years ahead of the previous generation for technical features and the available comfort and convenience features. IH fell far behind the Big Three in bringing its trucks up the comfort-option food chain. The company had long built some of the toughest light trucks available, but they were farmers’ trucks, workman’s trucks — trucks not well-suited to the American pickups’ growing role as the ordinary family’s recreation vehicle (the second or third “car”). The new D-Series included options to address that deficiency while maintaining the go-to-work aspects for which IH was legendary.

Visibility was another reason for IH’s single-digit light-truck market share. Farmers and commercial people knew where to find an IH truck, but John Q. Public’s usual reply was, “International what?” You found IH trucks and Scouts at tractor dealers on the outskirts of town, not on Main Street where people window shopped Chevys, Fords and Dodges. And that’s where the throngs of prospective truck owners caught the pickup bug.

When the ‘70s began, IH began thinking about how to bring its trucks to Main Street, but the moves in that direction would soon hit a screeching halt. When our Oklahoma oil exec was delivered his ’74 IH truck, only a few people knew that these light trucks were headed toward extinction.

For the 1974 model year, IH adopted new model designations. From the previous 1000, 1100, 1200, 1300 models, IH down-numbered to a more modern-sounding 100 and 200 series, the 100 being the half-ton line available in several wheelbases and gross vehicle weight configurations, and the 200 line being the three-quarter-ton and one-ton range with similarly variable wheelbases and GVWs. All the trucks got chassis improvement and a wider stance. Power disc brakes became standard, and the engine was moved back in the chassis to improve cooling.

At the long, long end of the 200 line was the 166-inch wheelbase Travelette 200. Travelette was IH’s marketing term for a four-door truck cab. In ’74, Travelettes came in 149- and 166-inch wheelbases, the shorter with a 6.5-foot bed and the longer with the full 8-foot Bonus Load bed. In this year, the Travelette came only on a two-wheel-drive chassis; previously, a Travelette was also offered on a four-wheel-drive chassis. The standard engine was a 258-cubic-inch six sourced from AMC, but 304, 345 and 392 IH V-8s were options, too. Due to a shortage of 392s, which were also used in the medium-duty IH lines, a 401 V-8 engine from AMC was sometimes substituted.

IH 74 TR-5L II

Our oil exec picked only the best options. The Camper Special with air conditioning delivered a batch of functional stuff, including an 8,200-pound GVW, front and rear sway bars, underslung spare tire carrier, auxiliary 16-gallon fuel tank (for 32 gallons total), high-output alternator and battery, heavy-duty cooling, dual exhausts, dual oversized mirrors, camper wiring and a sliding rear window.

The Custom Exterior Trim Package included lots of chrome and bright trim, and for $71 more you got a rear step bumper with hitch. Inside, the Custom Cab interior included carpeting, special trim, padded door panels, cigarette lighter and a clock, but the high-back bucket seats with folding armrests cost more money on top of that. The tinted glass and AM radio set our exec back even more, but for whatever reason, he didn’t order the $59 tilt steering column.

The 392 V-8 was a $255 option, and with the dual exhaust it made 193 horsepower and 305 pounds-feet of torque. The 392 was unlike the big blocks offered in other makes of light trucks. It was more a Clydesdale and less a thoroughbred. The 392 was no revver — it was pretty much done by the time it reached 4,000 rpm, wheezing pretty hard at that point. But from idle to 3,000 rpm, the torque curve climbed like a rocket and delivered a long, flat plateau. It was the kind of engine with which you could accidently start off in 4th gear and barely notice.

The standard transmission for the 392 in a 200 was a heavy-duty four-speed automatic from Warner Gear, but two Clark five-speed manuals were available, one a close-ratio unit with a direct 5th gear and the other with a wider ratio box with an overdrive 5th gear. Our exec ordered the three-speed Borg Warner automatic and an auxiliary cooler. The truck came with its standard axle ratio of 3.73:1 (4.10:1 was optional), but the oil guy also ordered the optional Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential for the Dana 70 HD full-float rear axle. By the time the oil exec was done ordering, there weren’t too many more boxes on the order form to check off.

By the end of 1974, the happy days were over for IH light trucks. The gas crunch was in full swing, and the economy was spiraling down. Corporate schizophrenia ruled the IH boardroom, where the agricultural, commercial truck and light lines all competed for diminishing resources.

History shows us who lost that battle. Sales materials were printed for 1975 trucks, and 1975 model-year trucks were produced with a number of improvements and changes, but not many rolled off the line. Records show just over 6,000 trucks were built, and by the end of 1975, after almost 70 years of production, IH light trucks were a thing of the past. The Scout models continued, and a new Scout Terra pickup became the de facto IH light truck, but even the Scouts lasted only up to 1980 before economics and boardroom infighting killed them off as well.

The truck shown here belongs to collectors Rick and Paulette Riley, who have a thing for IH products but also for Jeeps and AMC muscle cars, tractors and a number of other things. They’ve owned this rare truck for about 10 years. It was restored by a noted IH light-truck expert, Larry Buckland, who used mostly new old stock (NOS) parts to bring the already good truck back to showroom condition.

Very little is known about the truck beyond the fact that an oil exec was its first owner. It passed through several hands before being restored by Buckland and owned by the Rileys. Travelettes from this era are common, but decked-out ones like this are very uncommon, according to John Glancy at Super Scout Specialists.

“Most of International’s light-line markets were commercial,” he said, “so the majority of the Travelettes were built to work. Few tricked-out ones were built, and even fewer remain.” Glancy estimates the value of this truck on the collector market to be in the $25,000 to $30,000 range. Glancy should know, since he purchased the legacy parts business from Navistar International for all the IH light-line products, truck and Scout alike, and he owns the rights to many of its trademarks and tooling. Super Scout Specialists also inherited a tremendous database of information with that purchase and has added to it in the decades since.

1974 International Harvester 200 Travelette

  • Engine: 392ci V-8 OHV 4-barrel
  • Power: 193 hp at 3,600 rpm (179 hp with single exhaust)
  • Torque: 305 pounds-feet at 2,400-2,800 rpm (297 pounds-feet with single exhaust)
  • Bore x stroke (in.): 4.125 x 3.656
  • Compression ratio: 8.02:1
  • Transmission: 3-speed automatic, Borg Warner 11
  • Rear axle: Dana 70 HD
  • Axle ratio: 3.73:1
  • Tires: 9.50-16.5, 10-ply
  • L x W x H (in.): 237.2 x 78.8 x 72.8
  • Wheelbase (in.): 166
  • GVW (lbs.): 8,200
  • Curb weight (lbs.): 4,849 (base model)
  • Fuel capacity (gal.): 32 (16x2)
  • Current owners: Rick and Paulette Riley

IH 74 TR-1AL II

At 20 feet long, this truck is definitely in the limo-long category. The Glacier Blue main color must have been popular because many remaining IH trucks and Scouts from the 1970s are seen in it. The Bimini Blue Metallic is a good highlight color with the optional two-tone motif. The 1974 model year brought a lot of small upgrades, not the least of which was a new grille that has since been dubbed “the electric razor grille.”

IH 74 TR-2L II

A full 8-foot bed allows for a big load or a large overhead camper. It did stretch the wheelbase out a fair bit and made the turning circle only slightly smaller than the Queen Mary. This truck originally had dual exhausts, and there were two styles: those that came straight out the rear like these, and those that exited to the sides. The rear-exit exhausts and a factory receiver hitch are likely why the spare tire is in the bed rather than under the truck.

IH 74 TR-4L II

The 392-cubic-inch four-barrel V-8 was International’s most potent light-truck engine. It made 193 horsepower and 305 pounds-feet of torque with dual exhaust. It seems modest, but it was a slow-turning, medium-duty truck engine mounted in a light truck. Durability and low-rpm performance were exceptional. IH engines used high-nickel-content blocks with extremely durable bores, as well as forged crankshafts, sodium-filled valves with rotators, hardened valve seat inserts, high-flow cooling systems and high-volume lubrication systems. About the only thing missing on the light-truck engines from the medium-duty realm were governors. The 392 had two- and four-barrel versions over the years. The four-barrels were Holleys early on and Carter Thermoquads in the ‘70s.

IH 74 TR-6L II

The fill point for the fuel tanks on IH trucks mount in an unusual place compared with other trucks. With a single tank, the filter was here, on the driver’s side. With dual tanks, a second filler appeared on the opposite fender.

IH 74 TR-7L II

There’s plenty of beef to show off here, including a Dana 70 HD axle with a limited-slip differential and a rear sway bar that was part of the Camper Special package. The chassis was beefed up for ’74 as well.

IH 74 TR-8L II

This was about as plush as it got for International Harvester. The center console is not original, according to John Glancy of Super Scout Specialists. It appears to have come from an ‘80s-era Chevy Blazer but it works stylewise, and even the color matches.

IH 74 TR-9L II

There’s seating for five, which would have been for six with the standard front bench seat. Rick Riley says this is a very comfortable truck on a long drive despite the heavy suspension. The modern radials help, but so does the wheelbase. The truck is sprightly, but not thrifty — about 10 to 12 mpg is as good as it gets.

Prices & Options

Base price
392 V-8
Limited-slip rear axle
Camper Package w/ AC
Custom exterior
Two-tone paint
Tinted glass
Door guards

$4,408
$255
$142
$740
$278
$106
$118
$6

 

Rear step bumper
Custom interior
High-back buckets/console
Automatic transmission:
Transmission cooler
Power steering
AM radio

GRAND TOTAL

$71
$186
$191
$238
$53
$152
$72

$7,016


 

Comments

Ill take it...

haha!...

i remember my father driving to mexico his first truck it was an International but cant remember the year.....

I came very close to getting on of these myself, but I was looking at a reg cab. I ended up buying a 1973 Scout II instead, and then traided that in to a 1978 Scout Terra p/u, that was a nice truck! I was able to order it with 4:10 detriot locker f/r, with a 345 V-8 dual ext. 3spd tourqe-flyte tranny, the truck got around 12-16mpg, and could pull a house! it was rated to haul 2,300lbs! and the best part is with 10 screws you could remove the roof! it was fiberglass! I put a 3" lift kit in and on the hard packed dirt straightaway at the local gravel yard, no-one could out drag that truck! The beauty of the IH line of suv, p/u were the fact you could order them anyway you wanted, you could get a 5sp granny low trans. or a 6spd even a 7sp HD trany in the HD full size p/u! they were way ahead of the comp., the only bad thing was they were very good tasting to the tin worm, the 73 I had was only 5 yrs old and the window over the tailgate had rust around the hinges! and I could tell in the rear quarter panel had rust inside when I had to replace a tailight bulb, I could see rust in there, and then I was foolish enough to go out and trade it back in for another! but that is where I could get a better trade, no Chevy dealer or Ford Or Dodge wanted to give me anything for it! the 78 Terra I bought was nica nad all, but that had to go by 1984! and I lost a bundle! I saw that truck around 1990, and the rear QP were almost falling off! and the windshield was leaking, the truck was full of rust, no the body was full of rust, I believe the guy took the chassis and put a Pontiac station wagon body on it! a 69 with a GTO front clip on it, it was kool looking! and ran great! I don't know whatever happend to it.

IH was a trendsetter back in the day. The Travelall was the original Suburban. The Scout had the removable top with an optional B pillar window panel that made it into a small pickup. Bullet bouncing hardbodys and spartan interiors. Mantrucks all around.
Only 6000 of this one built makes it very rare indeed.
I remember my buddies' Travelall didn't have headrests or seatbelts on the front bench seat. I don't remember what year that one was.
I don't think you could sell a full size truck these days with a name that ends with 'ette.

Thanks Mark for the great IH article. Brings back good memories. Learned to drive on a 63 IH 1000. Worked with a lady that had a 67 or 68 Travelall with a towing package for her boat. That was during the Summer of 1979 "Iranian Crisis". She bought a VW diesel Rabbit for going back and forth to work and for running errands (40mpg) but kept the Travelall for hauling her boat and going on camping trips with her sons. Travelalls and Suburbans were SUVs before the name SUV was ever thought of. The Scouts were great too. As sandman4x4 brought up rust was a major issue but it was an issue for all vehicles at that time. Thanks again for the memories and thanks sandman4x4 and Stevadore for your comments. Good memories.

be nice if trucks were only 7,000, now there almost going for 70,000 if you get max tow,diesel,4x4, etc.

DODGEGUY--As with most everything prices go up and up. As some oldtimers say the price of a car or truck is what a house use to cost, and a price of a decent tractor lawnmower is what a car or truck use to cost. Nice memories.

In todays dollars this truck is about $40,000 I would guess.....thats what $7000 was back in 1974 converted into 2012 dollars..So,you can buy a loaded 2wd 2012,gas powered 250/2500 truck for $40,000 today in 2012 roughly the same cost as back as 1974 ! Things were expensive back then as they are today !

@C-That's a valid point as well. For most of us our wages have gone up that much as well. In another 30 to 40 years people will be talking about how cheap things were in 2012 and that gasoline was below $4 a gallon.

IH pickups were.......weird. They did offer a bunch of options other manufacturers didn't, such as your choice of torsion bar IFS or leaf springs/beam axle on 4X2's, 5 speed overdrive manual transmissions, ect.. Notice that 4X2's had underslung rear axles? As I remember a lot of the 1/2 tons had boxed frame rails. Their pickups tended to be heavy, and IH engines were not very efficient, particularly the 345 and 392. The trucks got poor fuel economy, and sales dropped off to nothing after the first gas crisis. They were tough, and could pull just about anything with the right options. They were also very rust prone. There was another smaller Travelett model that was basically a Travelall with the roof removed over the cargo area. Sort of like an Avalanche

Big Bob--IH was the first of many victims of the Arab Oil Embargo, Iranian Crisis, and more stringent EPA fuel and pollution standards. Big block V-8s became rare-454s, 472 Caddys, Mopar Hemis, and other big blocks. I had a 77 Monte Carlo with the leaned down 305 V-8. I could get in the low 20 mpgs on the highway but the carburetor was a two barrell with smaller jets which fed less gas but also had less performance. Downsized boxy full size and intermediate cars replaced the more curvy streamlined cars.

Today's trucks will go through a change phase as well. There will be some downsizing but with more advanced technology more changes will be made to the drivetrains and to lighter more advanced materials. We migh see a lot of carbon components. It will be interesting to see the new GM and Ford trucks in the next few years.

I bought a new 1974 Ford F100 with 302 and 4 speed for $3000. Could have had the F250 for just a few dollar more. Disparate prices with the competition is what killed International. They were overbuilt for what was becoming a suburban market place.

@DODGEGUY: Would you want the guy that is making what they made in 1974 to build your truck too? Would that even be minamal wage nowadays? I doubt that! He / she probably wouldn't be very qualified or care what kinda job at that rate in the states!

I don't know where you get 70K from, nothing says you need all that. What, you think we have to all have King Ranch and Larimie Longhorns? I wonder how this truck stops (COMPARED TO THE NEW ones for Dodgeguy's sake) Let's see how it does in a crash? (let's not, I am not dogging the vehicle, just pointing out to Dodgeguy they added a few things to trucks over the years.) I can go on, no sense though.

My dad had a 74 Scout with the 345 and 3 speed on the tree, good old truck! Neat when your dad does autobody and fixes themup and drives them for awhile, sells them and makes a few bucks. Got to see alot of interesting cars and pickups!

http://classifieds.pennswoods.net/classifieds/viewad.cgi?adindex=1725683 just buy this one for grand lol

TRX4: even in 1974 a UAW worker made a lot more than min. wage is right now, I was a teamster back then and we were getting 13.18 /hr.! in 1974! I would bet the UAW was making even more at the time, and the min. wage in 74 Mich. was $1.60 or so.

I miss my Scout II. That is all.

probably not even a fully boxed frmae

I almost had my name signed on the dotted line for a new Scout in the late 70's. It was a medium blue color, 345 V8, 3 spd auto, Goodyear all-terrains all around. Was a demo for the salesman at the tractor dealer. It was a cool truck. My father wouldn't hear of it and said I didn't need a gas sucking 4x4.
My Uncle drove a Travelall for years, used it to go to work and pulled a travel trailer all over the US. Maybe I should of got him on the my side. LOL

damefnet: not to sure of the above truck, but the Scout II had a fully boxed frame! and I would think the fullsize trucks had a very stout frame, the only weak points these trucks had was poor fule economy, and very bad body integridy, rust, rattles, bad latches, hindges, you name it! but the paint was nice, and everything lined up pretty well, but not for long mind you for the bodies, but the frames and drive trains were bullit proof!

I really like the color of this car! Nice share indeed.

Household income was $11,197 in 1974 !

Minimun wage in 1974 was $2 per hour average in the U.S..

And back then new cars were expensive as were houses ($40,000) remember 12% interest rate ,yes 12 % !

Back then they complained about high gas prices,yes they did..it was never cheap ! Remember you made $11,000 per year on average !!

I am so,so,so tired of people saying things were cheap back then..they were not...plus clothing and household items were more than they are now !! People dont realize that.I am so sick of people saying everything was cheap,you dont realize inflation...

That truck is a $40,000 truck in todays dollars,you can buy a new 250/2500 gas powered 4 door crew cab for $40,000 (not a base model)

one other aspect of value from then and now, now there were a lot more consumer items made and or built in America, expecialy clothing! now the are all made in China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, ect. ect. ect. of course they ar going to seem cheeper than before, the Levis you bought in the 60-70's were made in the good ol U.S.of A.! now where are they made, (I don't know I don' buy them anymore) I buy either Carhart, or from a small company in Tennesse called Diamond Gusset!, all my shoes are from American manuf. either New Balance, Red wing, Rocky's, even my T shirts are made here, they are called 7.62 Design, (get it)? I try to get as much asI can from American do. nad I don't realy care so much if they are made here, just as long as they are American made!

sandman4X4--Good points most everything is made in China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, and etc. It is getting harder and harder to get USA made products (even Mexico is being replaced by these counties), Try to find a small appliance or a computer that is not made in China. Starbucks coffee has contracted with a company in East Liberty, OH to make ceramic coffee mugs as part of their support American campaign. Maybe Dodge Ram is right that prices have not changed as much considering inflation but we have less jobs and a much worse economy now than we had back in 1974 despite that being a recessionary time. If Dodge Ram wants to get sick about a discussion of what prices use to be thats his business but he needs to get sick in his own truck. We at least have the right to comment on what the prices were back then not that we necessarily want to go back to that time but I would not mind seeing more products be made in NA. Dodge Ram will not have to wait too long till they make his truck in China as I fear we might not as well. Also we might see a return to higher interest rates sometime in the future.

TRX4 Tom IH NEVER made a scout with a 3 on the tree. They were all floor shift

Pickup trucks are really helpful for the small business as well as for the local transport also with small luggage if modified properly. As per my my fathers own experience to use it for his local business to transport goods from one place to other.

IH trucks RULE!!!! I have a '74 2 tone blue Travelette Camper Special like this one with the dual exhaust (That exit out the side) 392 V8 with a 750 CFM Holley Dominator 4 barrel carb, And a 12 foot 2010 Arctic Fox Camper, I also have the twin high-back bucket seats in front, Mine has the Borg-Warner 3 speed automatic with auxiliary oil cooler as well as factory AC and cruise control and tilt steering column, I also replaced the factory AM radio with a custom Clarion AM/FM 6 disc CD changer with iPod and MP3 Player hookup, And I also had power windows and door locks installed as well as tinted glass, This truck is no speed demon, But the torque is quite impressive!!! It'll cruise at 75 to 85 all day with no problems whatsoever!!!!

Love seeing Travelettes! Anyone who owns or wants to own an IH should head on over to Binder Planet. There youll find IH organizations to join like Southern Scouts or SEBA, IH Car Shows, Meetings, and plenty of help on your IH project! We love meeting more IH people!

I have this same truck, color and all.
I've made it 4WD w/ a stock 205 T-case,6.5" Super Duty springs that give it 16" over stock, Dana Front axle, 11.5" 14 bolt rear axle, custom built front and rear bumpers, 44" tires and so many more custom thing built as suttle adders.
I wish I could add a pic to show you all but doesn't look like I can. you can see it on Youtube under "International Harvester Big Johnson" if you want to check it out.



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