Curbside Classic: 1958-1960 International Harvester Travelall – Workhorse With Grace and Style

When I was a little kid, looking out at traffic through the rear door windows, from time to time we’d draw even with a Travelall. Never one of these, that I remember; by the time I came round it was the ’60s-’70s models. At some point during that span, IH changed from cursive to block letters for the model callout, and I misread it as Travela II, “TRAV-el-uh TWO”.

No risk of that with this ’58-’60 model, for it has no Travelall callout at all. But it does have bagloads (relatively speaking) of chrome and trim and I donno, at least fifteen pieces of flair.

There is a chrome-cursive International callout, which reminds me of the chrome callout on the doors of my ’62 Dodge Lancer. And just look at that zaggy chrome lightning bolt! It stops abruptly at the trailing edge of the hood—kinda looks like that was intentional, which is a little weird—but still, even a heavy-duty workhorse like this got some of that late-’50s stardust sprinkled on it.

Quad headlamps—the very most in 1958—stacked in not just any ol’ regular ol’ normal ol’ boring ol’ transit bus-grade bezel, but a chrome surround with an eyebrow visor and attention to detail of the front surface finish.

Not too too much chrome, though; the bumper bar is white; so are the mirrors, and I think that’s appropriate. The grille looks as though its brite-dip anodising used to be nearly as sparkly as chrome. Now it’s more like the dull than the shiny side of aluminum foil, but that suits, too.

This logo is strong, thoughtfully designed, and awesome. May the ants of a thousand picnics infest the armpits of whatever dillweed put up the vapid tossed-broken-box thing they use now. Same goes for whoever spat out the present company’s lame name. International Harvester is a fine, sturdy name; say it and you can just about smell the utility and durability of the vehicles and implements they make. Now say “Navistar”. The hell do they do, provide internet service? Collect garbage? Track consumers’ browsing and spending habits?

These white wheels are just about exactly right. The hubcaps remind me of the basic-equipment items on Dodges and Plymouths of the late ’60s: adequate and sensible. My knees object to the low placement of the gasoline filler, even though I don’t even have to fuel this beast. Good job, that; as I write this regular gas here is up to C$2.17, or US$6.38 per US gallon. Yee!

There’s another white bumper here, a sturdy one with an inbuilt step and trailer hitch. There’s also—glory be!—a full perimeter rain rail. Let’s zoom in on some more of that stardust…

…and take a gander at the taillight. Another chrome eyebrow surround like the headlamp ones up front, cool, and see how much design and styling went into that lens!

I don’t think I’d want to own one of these, but I would like a ride in one. I bet it sounds just as right as it looks.