If daydreaming were currency, I’d be rich. In my vernacular, it’s “spacing out,” and my lovely bride is forced almost daily to reel me in with a quick utterance: “Snap out of it.” Some, if not most, of my spacing out time involves buying cars – the only limit to my idle reveries is the number of 1950s-1970s cars available, and there’s something out there to fit almost every need, including this 1966 International Travelall.
My real life purchases are almost exclusively impractical and space-inefficient hardtops and convertibles, but a capable and spacious tow vehicle has always rumbled around in my head space for the following reason: Like many nature-loving novices, my wife and I hate camping in a tent in the rain. I don’t want to store a big RV for a couple of weekends of use a year, and I don’t want an inefficient daily driver just so I can occasionally tow something. Therefore, I’ve been dreaming lately of post-retirement classics that could also tow a pop-up camper so my sweetie and I can get back to sitting around the campfires of America. I may have just found it.
Mrs. Aaron65 and I are not yet of retirement age, but my recent thoughts have turned to the ubiquitous Suburban. In a perfect world, I’d find a ’74 GMC, simply because I like the grille design. Unfortunately, America currently has Squarebody Fever, which means that even diecast toys resembling said trucks immediately vanish from department store pegs for inflated prices. The adult world is no better; therefore, my finding a slightly crusty and usable Suburban for a reasonable price is beginning to be a daydream in itself, which brings us to our featured Travelall.
We recently took the three-hour drive down to Auburn, Indiana, to visit the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum and NATMUS, which features a large collection of International Harvester products in the basement of its campus. I always enjoy ogling Cord 810 Westchesters and Auburn Boattail Speedsters at the A-C-D, so I felt almost guilty calling this Travelall my “best in show” that day. It’s not perfect, but it’s not rusted into the ground. It has a 304 V8, so it will tow a light load. It’s not too big, so it would fit in the garage. It’s perfect for hauling a pop-up camper. Sadly, being a museum car, it’s not for sale (and I hope it never will be…NATMUS is a fun place to visit – give it a try if you’re in the Midwest).
I don’t think the Travelall gets the recognition it deserves as a forerunner in its field. One could argue that the Suburban created the big family wagon genre, but it didn’t get four doors until the 1973 models were introduced. The Willys Station Wagon came out earlier, but it was much smaller than the Travelall and most of the ones that I’ve seen are two-door models.
As I mentioned above, the museum’s 1966 Travelall would be a perfect fit in my garage, given the limited amount of information I could find in my personal library and on the internet. Overall length comes in at just above or just below 200 inches, depending on the wheelbase. My ’53 Buick and ’63 T-Bird are both a tight squeeze at 205 inches long, so the Travelall should fit surprisingly well.
A fun quirk about the Travelall is its fuel filler location on the passenger front fender, as the tank is located inside the passenger side rocker panel. My Corvair has “fender fueling,” so it wouldn’t take long to accustom myself to stopping short at the pump.
The unkempt interior of the museum car made my lovely bride grimace, but I can do a little sleuthing about the truck nevertheless. The eight spark plugs on the tunnel aren’t a promising sign, but the tacked-on air conditioning (factory or otherwise) would be refreshing on a hot summer day. This Travelall appears to have an automatic, based on the indicator on the steering column and the lack of a clutch pedal; if so, it should be the Borg-Warner unit. If the museum placard is correct, this truck has an International 304, which produces 193 horsepower and 272 lb./ft. of torque, plenty of power for towing a small camper. Maintenance shouldn’t be a problem with a rugged, lightly-stressed International V8.
This Travelall has apparently covered 204,000 miles, which is quite a record for anything from the 1960s, so it must be tough.
The Travelall is handsome in a utilitarian way; even the badging has character, as it does on most 1960s American vehicles. What a cool truck. If I decide on a someday International, however, I need not be limited to a 1966 model.
NATMUS has several alternatives in its vast basement, and the Travelall wasn’t discontinued until 1975. This square-rigged, woodgrain model from 1973 (I believe) would make a fine alternative to an earlier model.
This 1973 pickup with an American Motors 401 and a cap on the back would also perform camping duties admirably.
My heart and dollars, however, lie with this humble 1966 model. International stuck with this body design from 1961-1968, so anything in that age range would fit neatly into my daydreams. Now, I simply have to keep my fingers crossed that “Travelall Fever” doesn’t hit America before we’re ready to begin our camping adventures again.