Cohort Outtake: International Loadstar 1700 – Makes A Rugged Pickup

Nifticus posted shots of this International Loadstar at the Cohort, and I can’t just walk by. These were once by far the best selling medium truck in the country, and for quite a few years. Its face is as familiar to anyone around in the 60s through the 80s, or longer, as it seems only yesterday that there were some still in front line duty; some undoubtedly still are. An dthen there’s the fact that I drove one of these professionally for a while.

But this one has been re-purposed into a stake-bed pickup, or whatever you want to call it. In any case, it’s shed its working load and is now carrying a very light one in its retirement years.

Strictly speaking, this earlier version of the Loadstar face was even more common, in my memory. I’m not sure when the bulged-out front grille appeared, but I suspect it might have to do with trying to make it look a bit more aggressive as well as more in line with IH styling of the time. For that matter, this wasn’t even the original face for this series of trucks.

It started in 1957, with this proto-Loadstar, which didn’t have an actual name, I’m quite sure, just a number designation. I remember seeing these in the 60s and some into the 70s, but the much more common Loadstar eventually displaced them. haven’t seen on of these in ages.

 

Why was the Loadstar so popular? Well, International was just a giant in the truck field, and its large volumes made for very competitive prices and its quality was always unassailable. It was just a no-brainer, and the idea that its gasoline engines were designed from scratch to only be truck engines, rather than beefed-up passenger car engines, was a compelling pitch. And yes, the great majority of these used gas engines; the 345 and 392 cu.in. V8s, especially the latter.

I drove a dump truck that was almost this exact length for Baltimore County’s Sanitation Dept. in one of my very many brief “careers”, and it was a great driving truck. The five speed and two speed rear axle made for lots of fun shifting; ten gears to run through to get from a stop up to speed. The cab was  abit on the cozy side compared to the new Ford F600 we also had in the little fleet, but with its hard-running 392 and short wheelbase, it was something of a sports car of dump trucks. This one, with an even lighter bed, would be even more so. But then my imagination is undoubtedly running away with me. Who could possibly use the term “sports car” in connection with a Loadstar. Only a frustrated, hard-driving, speed-shifting 19 year-old, undoubtedly.

 

My full CC on the Loadstar is here