Truck History: International’s Emeryville Trucks – IH Goes West Coast, Big Time

Until well into the sixties or so, the US heavy truck industry was almost totally segregated geographically. The combination of just geographic distance and vastly more lenient length and weight regulations nurtured a distinct industry of “West Coast” trucks that were bigger, longer and more imposing looking, suited to the wide open spaces and tough jobs like logging. The dominant West Coast brands were Fageol/Peterbilt, Kenworth and Freightliner.

The East Coast/Midwest companies increasingly saw the growth and opportunities out West, and eventually most of them opened plants there and built models specifically for that market. I’m not totally sure, but I believe International was the first, with a plant in Emeryville, CA right after the war. And this factory shot from 1947 shows one of their first trucks, with all the typical West Coast features: long wheelbase, big hood and a bigger than average cab, very unlike anything International built back east.

This was just the beginning, and I’ll show you a few more “Emeryville” models below.

Here’s one hard at work as a winch truck.

Another one with a sleeper cab.

In addition to the conventional, there was also a COE. This one was shot still hard at work in 1971. These were pretty rare; I can’t remember consciously noticing one ever.

Curiously, these early Emeryville boxy cabs didn’t last long, and were replaced by this, a long nosed version of International’s cab used back east. I suspect those early cabs may have been outsourced, and it was cheaper to utilize existing cabs.

The R-400 Series brochure shows them in typical West Coast configurations of the time.

The COE went through the same transformation, shedding its boxy cab for a traditional International cab set high. This IH DC-405-L PIE rig sports a 165 hp turbocharged Cummins and 10-speed gearbox to tackle the mountains of the inter west region.

In 1957, Emeryville introduced the new DCO-405 COE cab, a modern truck that would also soon be seen increasingly in the eastern half of the country. It augmented the older style COE that had been quite popular in the east.

These are the definitive “Emeryville” Internationals.

In 1969, Emeryville did something rather unusual, using the COE “Emeryville” into a conventional truck. That included its very large windshield, giving these trucks a rather unusual appearance.

Although this was done out of necessity, it was rather prescient, as conventional trucks with larger windshields and side windows with a dropped down front section became rather common in more recent decades. They were just ahead of their times.

Emeryville made other trucks too, and continued for some time longer, but we’ll leave this little survey for now.