Car Show Outtake: 1973 International Pickup – A Detroit From Chicago?


Most machinery buffs from Middle America likely have a soft spot for the products that bear the “IH” logo, the man seated upon a tractor, and I am no exception.  At a nearby car cruise last year, this ’70s International pickup attracted my attention not for its clean, purposeful look, but for its distinctive clatter.  No International V-8 lived under the hood of this long-bed 1970s workhorse.


As you may have guessed from the title, I could hear the sound of a rumbling Diesel from far off as the International idled through town.  In this case, it was a  4-53 Detroit Diesel, the nomenclature indicating that this particular Detroit was a four-cylinder with 53 cubic inches per cylinder.

Charles Kettering rightly deserves much of the credit for designing the Detroit and its iconic “blower,” and although the old two-stroke has been superseded by traditional four-stroke diesels, the Detroit is still a fascinating piece of Americana from a period where companies were free to try new concepts (with varying results).  The video above gives a quick explanation of two-stroke Diesel operation.


I talked for a minute with the gentleman who owned this International, and he mentioned that he purchased it post-conversion and had been enjoying it as a conversation piece.  While Detroit conversions are not unheard of in Chevy and GMC pickups, this is the only International I’ve found with one.  Of course, the engine swap isn’t really an “upgrade,” per se, over an International V-8, but seeing that Detroit Diesel apple green paint under the hood is a pleasant surprise.