A few years ago I was feeling secure enough in my job and doing the usual dreaming about road trip adventures that I decided it was time to start looking for an adventure-mobile. I was leaning towards a big SUV of some sort with four wheel drive. My main criteria were that it should be able to go anywhere, that my girlfriend and I could sleep in it as necessary, and that I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. Of course, I harbored fantasies of buying some classic hulk: an old Suburban or Wagoneer or maybe even something like this 1965 International Travelall. I am, after all, a classic car nut. Why else would I frequent this site?
The funny thing is that these Travelalls weren’t marketed as adventure-mobiles, just a big station wagon for you, your wife, and your seven chubby children. At least, that’s what “husky” meant whenever my mom took me shopping for clothes as a kid. On the other hand, I guess getting stuck in the mud is always an adventure.
No mud to be found anywhere on this one, and given the absolute lack of rust, it probably didn’t spend much time getting muddy anytime in its life either. That’s not to say the owner doesn’t take this one on adventures. Though you can’t really see it well in the picture above, that little white square in the lower corner of the windshield is a 7-day parking pass to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz, CA–lots of great hikes there.
As no International expert, this front view is what leads me to believe this is a 65. This body style was made from 1961-68 with detail differences from year to year, grille changes being one of the more readily apparent. The 65 and 66 Travelalls shared similar grilles, but as best as I can tell the 65 has the vertical slats broken only by the International lettering in the middle, while the 66 has similar vertical slats but also a full-width horizontal piece through the middle. Of course, we have no idea what bits and pieces have been changed over the years. Travelallistas, educate us.
There’s the patina we live for here!
I started this post talking about buying a road trip adventure-mobile, with fantasies of cruising the country in the glorious confines of some old metal. But, ah!, it really is just a fantasy. I’m on record as saying that modern cars just lack much of the style and panache of the old ones, but these old SUVs really are quite spartan. There’s a respectable simplicity inside, but style? Eh, not so much. Not even a radio here and a great big metal dash to bash your brains out on. I’m not that old, but something tells me that logging 16 hour days at the wheel of this would leave me far less ready to enjoy my backwoods camp than anything made in the last 20 or 30 years.
The back seat is suitably spacious though. The kids can be pretty husky it turns out.
Uh oh, this one didn’t fully escape the tin worm. Classic California though: they rust top down and anywhere water collects after a wet winter. The chrome strip along the belt line leads me to suspect this one was originally two-toned there, instead of just the roof getting a separate shade.
Either way, it’s been a long time since this truck (station wagon?) was repainted. It takes a while to get that gasoline filler patina.
So did I buy a classic Suburban or Wagoneer or even a Travelall? No. My practicality, limited though it may be, won this round of dreaming. I did buy a truck, but instead of a 50 year old heap of rust and problems, I spent my three grand on a 15 year old heap of no rust and fewer problems. And I’m glad I did. I have serious doubts I would or could have put 40,000 miles of adventure over the last couple of years on something that old. Dodging potholes on the Dalton Highway is a lot harder when you don’t make it there to begin with. But even in my newer truck, I’m living out the dream of this old International anyway by Travel(ing) All over the place.