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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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August 2006 Issue
My IHC Fever
By Alan Baron

I was born and raised in NYC — Brooklyn to be exact. Not the garden spot of the world or a place where 4x4 or pickups are loved. My "International Harvester" fever started way back there when I witnessed my older brother, Ajah, restore an early 60s Jeep. He broke many a knuckle and froze his behind working on that Jeep all winter over 25 years ago. We all thought he was crazy restoring an old, smelly, hard-to-drive Jeep. It looked fantastic when it was done (drove a bit hard for my taste) but he was way ahead of his time with the SUV 4x4 craze.

But the seed was planted in my head... I had always been a van or station wagon guy even in Brooklyn.

My first IHC Travelette 4x4 1973 — it started my IHC fever
Click for larger view

Okay, zoom ahead 15 years and it is 1993. I have moved to California, Malibu to be exact. I am remodeling my home and visit a friend's house who is doing some work for me. And there it is! A crew-cab 1973 4x4 IHC Travelette. Okay, so the name Travelette is wimpy but not the truck. This is a monster truck — love at first sight! Please remember that once you catch IHC fever, the bug never leaves you.

I was able to buy it the very next day. My friend wanted a more modern rig, besides, he had no space to park this one. I had the luxury of a lot of space and the time to restore it... so it began. We IHC guys are a lonely lot. We used to be respected in the truck world — IHC sold more than Dodge, Ford or Chevrolet some times — ahh, but that is history.

I am getting ahead of myself... When I began to study up on restoring my truck I learnt the sad history of the once proud International Harvester Corporation. They were a great company that really started the SUV market way back in the early 1960s with the Scout. They brought out the first 4-door SUV, the Travelall, before Chevrolet or Ford. I really like their style and way they built trucks.

I met a guy up in Lancaster — Mike Ismail — who has become a good friend. He owns over 100 IHC trucks. He sells and makes aftermarket parts only for IHC. In fact, his company is called "IH Only". I consider him to be the #1 expert on IHC in the world. He is a master restorer and has built many an engine and tranny for me.

1962 Scout
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I found my 1962 Scout in "Hemmings Motor News". It looked great and was priced right. I drove out to Arizona with Mike and bought it — one owner, desert Scout, with surface rust only. Then my son Nicolas and the business took over all my free time. Sadly it sat for almost nine years while I worked and bought more IHC trucks to drive and restore.

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1962 IHC Metro fun truck was a bookmobile in San Francisco 1966 IHC Travelall 1980 Scout Traveler

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My 1948 KB5 —
surf truck as well
The front name
plate of IHC trucks
was beautiful…
Nicolas with the KB5 — kids of all sizes love the KB5… Nicolas cannot
wait until he can
drive the KB5

In collecting cars or trucks you must focus on a type or make. There's just too many great cars and trucks out there. Or better have a lot of money and space. I have a dozen odd IHC trucks — early 1960 Travelalls, Metros, two 1948 KB5, '50s-'70s pickups but nothing as clean and untouched as the 1962 Scout. I wanted this restoration to be a full off-the-frame, acid dip, every nut and bolt 100% restored. Last year I was finally ready to go for it. Man, was I in for a learning experience!

Once I picked out the body shop Gold Star in Oxnard, California I was on my way. They took the truck apart and I then drove back to get the frame and engine cleaned of 40 years of grease grime and then towed it up to Mike Ismail to rebuild the engine and tranny. He removed the engine and transmission and I got back to Oxnard to have the frame sandblasted and powder-coated. Once that was done I was back to Lancaster to put the engine and drive-train back on. It was Oxnard again to acid dip body on frame to be able to start body work and paint. This process took over a year-and-a-half. I have learnt that any good restoration takes a lot of time and patience.

Click for larger view
Here's what the Scout
looked like when I first
got it… I drove it like this
for six years until I was
ready to restore it the
right way.
Off to Gold Star body shop in Oxnard, California. There's a little more rust now but only on the surface. And I'm the second owner! Very rare to find untouched, clean Scouts. This was a high desert truck found in Arizona. Body has been
removed and now
back to Malibu to
powerwash frame
and engine.
That's me checking out the
body just before it was sent
off to the acid dip tank for two
days. This is a process
that must be undertaken to remove all the rust - it's
a hassle, but worth it.
Back in Malibu with
frame to powerwash — not
as dirty as I was expecting;
a good sign...
Ready to clean
that Scout!
A good powerwasher is one
of the best tools to have...
40-plus years of grease
and road grime off...
It takes Mike five minutes to
remove the old engine and
tranny. Now the fun begins...
Back to Gold Star, Oxnard to
sandblast and powdercoat frame.
Engine and tranny finally
off the frame…
Just back from acid dip
and first primer coat
Dago of Gold Star Dago and I checking out
main body of the Scout
earlier this year…
Body is now back from acid
dip and first primer is on the
main body. Roof already has
a second coat of primer.
Gold Star having acid
dipped all my fenders,
doors and other parts.
Everything primed and
ready for the final paint color.
Powdercoated frame ready
to go back to IH Only in
Lancaster, California
Without the help of good
friends it could not have
been done… that's Robert
and my son.
Powdercoated frame now
back at Mike Ismail's shop
"A Man And His
Rebuilt Engine…"
Looks fantastic! This makes
all the time and effort
worth it.
Mike & I pushing it
out to the trailer.
Another masterful job by
Mike Ismail of IH Only
Back from Lancaster with
rebuilt engine/tranny,
brake lines, shocks and tires
Off to Gold Star body shop
in Oxnard to place body on frame.
The paint job is flawless…
Truck is finally ready to
come back to Malibu.
Finally back together with
correct whitecap white paint.

As we speak, the final push is on. The doors and top will be done by the end of July for final restoration at "IH Only" in Lancaster, California. Hope to be on the road, Aug 2006… Another month and it will be 2 years of hard work. Without the help of so many talented people I could not have done this. My Scout will be a driver — no trailer queens in my collection.

Click for larger view
My work space — 10,000 sq feet of garage

You learn on the fly, and without the Internet it would have been so much harder. My passion for cars and trucks has become a business now. I restore, store and rent my trucks to Hollywood and for still shoots.

I wanted to do a 100% stock restoration using 'NOS' parts only (that's 'new old stock'). "IH Only" & eBay were a great help, but nobody could tell me for sure what exactly the parts looked like. I had books on Scouts but not enough information. I searched the Internet and found the best and only place for buying mint condition car and truck brochures — McLellan's Automotive History — a godsend for sure. I bought everything I could for all my trucks — the best site hands down.

I needed correct paint colors, inside and out placement of parts, chrome, options they offered, etc. There was so much detailing that could never have been done without this information. I cannot say enough for their excellent collection, they are just the best to deal with. Great on shipping and fast with e-mails — "always mint, always on time".

Now when I enter my trucks in shows (they are working trucks all...), I always use my brochures I got from McLellan's to tell my story and inform the public. In a proper plastic bound book to keep them so nice and safe I might add.

Alan Baron is planning to set up a web site soon. But for now he can be reached at His business goes by the name Malibu International Motors. - Editor
Click here for original International Harvester literature.
The Automotive Chronicles, August 2006
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