By Cory Doctorow at 9:49 pm Thu, Mar 4, 2010
The International Harvester Panel Wagon “Battle Wagon” was my very first vehicle! I loved that big hulking monster of a truck. I do believe that it was my dad’s first and then mine and one has to wonder if there wasn’t a plan behind the scenes from my parents since this beast got like 6mpg and I never had enough $ to go very far from home.
Before the Chevy Suburban craze, and the even earlier various Jeep wagons one, International Travelall was the gentleman’s choice for land yacht on the estates, and a big seller in the real country. The Wagonmaster was an offshoot of International’s commercial vehicle success, and a lot of Forest Service & Parks & Recs used various models of International – as a kid, I thought Internationals were all dull green. Dual cab pick-ups didn’t become popular, or even very available, in the US for a while, while being big third-world sellers for a long time. Saw very few of the Wagonmasters, tho, but lots of Scouts.
The Wagonmaster is to be celebrated
Call is malaise era square if you like, but at least it has a design point of view. Fight the jelly-beanification of automotive design.
I owned a 1965 IH Travelall w/ the ‘small’ 304 V8 – in 2000/2002. It was owned previously by the Inyo County Search & Rescue in eastern California. A huge truck that purred like a kitty and had torque to spare, it was straight and beautiful. Alas, as parts were hard to come by on the east coast, where I subsequently drove her to live, I sold it on ebay…yes ebay…to a guy in Texas.
International – I can’t help but fall in love with every one. That particular vehicle must be extremely rare – I’ve never actually seen one.
Butt ugly and nearly indestructable. IH served many a logger and farmer around here until the company went under and replacement parts got difficult to obtain.
I read your post and thought “what does he mean, went belly up?” So I visitied our semi-trusty Wiki. Technically, IH as we knew it is gone, but each division of farm equipment has been sold off and Navistar International remains as the truck/bus maker under the badge name International.
Sure, the scout is gone (rip you sturdy, lovable little tanks!), but the school buses just keep on rollin’.
There’s a certain resemblance to a very un-American car there.
Wow, it’s like the Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s Vacation… only even more awesome!
oh gosh. is it wrong that i actually want one? =/
I used to know a gentleman who could afford any vehicle he wanted. All he ever drove was Scouts.
This brings back memories! Both my uncle and grandpa had almost identical IH Travelalls back in the early 70’s – one was red and the other blue. We drove all around the country in those things with our fancy CB Radios on for communication. “Breaker One-Nine, good buddy!”
I remember we broke down in some desolate rural area in New Mexico when wiring under the big (solid metal) dashboard caught on fire. It was the 4th of July and the small town where we were getting the car fixed had a fantasic street festival with lots of dancing and fireworks.
Doesn’t having the weight of that trailer aft of the rear wheels make the steering and braking somewhat hazardous? I thought the idea was that the hitch point was above the rear wheels.
Didn’t International offer a covered/panel wagon version of this 2-door? Or am I thinking of the Scout II?
Just an open-back station wagon, after all.
I _liked_ full-size station wagons. Large enough to carry reasonable amounts of anything you actually needed to carry, up to and including full sheets of plywood, without a mini van’s huge cross-section. If I could get a Prius version of a full-size station wagon, with modern fold-down passenger seats, that’d be just about perfect for my needs.
Ugly? I’m not buying a car for looks; I’m buying it for function. Well, until I can get an Aptera, anyway.
The caravan has two very un-American looking bomb canisters under it.
why oh why do I want one of these so badly all of a sudden? It’s like the dorkiest truck ever, and I think I wouldn’t be able to stop smiling if I was driving it.
12 yards long, 2 lanes wide,
65 tons of American Pride!
There’s one of these for sale, and I think that’s where this pic might have surfaced from…
A good friend of mine had an IH Scout. Talk about rock solid… until it dropped (literally) it’s drive train on a very, very long bridge here in NE Florida in the spring of 1981. I kid you not; he crawled right under it, and in thirty minutes, he was rolling again. Heck of a vehicle, think it finally died around 1990.
Ah memories! My Dad worked for IH and as a child I experienced the joys of riding in the (unfitted) back of both a Travelall and a Scout. The Wagonmaster is post-childhood so I don’t know about that.
IH also made fridges, so we (of course) had one which never died but the door lock broke and we couldn’t get parts and my Mom got tired of holding the door closed with a bungey cord. But 35 years with no failures other than the door lock is pretty good for a fridge.
Forty years after my first ride in a Travelall I found another still being lovingly maintained by a farmer in the province where I live now. He has replaced a lot of parts (axles, shocks) and built some of his own ( door handles) so its a bit like the axe that came over on the Mayflower. It still looks like shit and the ride in the back is just as crappy but he is still using the original engine andwere all of the original drive train with no replacement parts, just loving maintenance.
The gas mileage sucked, but my Dad also drove a car that the family referred to as the “reverse dinosaur” because it was sucking the gas out of the ground rather than making it. Chrysler New Yorker, two-tone green (with fins — we’re talking late fifties) and a ride that was so sprung you could get seasick in the back. 12 miles to the gallon on the highway when it had just been tuned.
Of course in those days everyone thought that the sea of oil would last forever.
I’m not a car fan, but I the design of the wagonmaster screams ‘Electric Conversion’ at me. It’s got the surface area for mounting a pretty good solar panel array, and the volume of space under the hood could hold a large battery bank. I also think it’s cute.
I remember the TV commercials for this too, with the jingle “International Scout, anything less is just a car”
I hate to post a link like this (even though I have no interest at all other than saving a rare old vehicle), but somebody in Humboldt has one of these on CL, and it’s scheduled to get scrapped soon if he doesn’t sell it.
I’d buy it myself if it wasn’t 2,000 miles away.
Love it. It’s like the Ward Cleaver-esque Dad of the Wally Cleaver Chevy El Camino. I used to drive the Beaver of the family, a Dodge Rampage.
I just noticed the fifth wheel rig on the blue one. I wonder how bad that would handle with the gooseneck so far aft of the rear axle?
@20 (moose) – where I work, the guys would be fired for installing a trailer hitch that far back from the axle!
I loved my Scout. It was a tractor more than a car, a farm implement of rust and consumption. A great 4wd that I actually used as a 4WD.
Too bad there’s no such thing as a good ‘ol American made car anymore. Just look under the hood of your car. Heck, the alternator on my 2008 Jeep is made in Japan! My dad’s 99 ford escort was made in mexico.
It’s a shame they couldn’t make the tires square, too.
I just don’t want to look at it.
Seems like more of a pickup truck than a car, to me…
Those were considered cool at the time. Are BMWs and Audis environmentally friendly? Do people really need to travel at a cruising speed of 200km/h? What about the “hybrid Lambourghini?”
If I remember correctly this was the cover of a snappy, full color booklet extolling the virtues of this particular vehicle. My dad was considering replacing our 1972 Ford LTD Brougham 2 door, as a family of 5 was a bit tight in it – remember, this is when people bought a new car every two years or so.
It was in our back seat for weeks and I remember reading it and thinking how primitive this Wagonmaster was even by 1973 standards. The dashboard was, like full metal with, like, one dial in it, like a huge, mutant 1950 VW Beetle dash.
as a Mainer who has lived in Australia for the last decade I can tell you that is not an American car. That is an attempt to copy the Aussie ute. Just do a picture search for the Holden Crewmen to see the car I drive today.
The Ford F series is the embodiment of a US car. People who own those have a heck of a time finding parking spaces here.
it’s like the american sedan of american pick-ups. twice the boat that you thought necessary.
Tell the Griswolds their car is ready.
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