I usually have a few classic vehicles around. Somehow they seem to find me, in no small measure due to my prowling around classified sites. I’ve never been one to have a favorite, there are too many interesting vehicles that pique my interest, though I do tend toward the unusual and less mainstream. I also tend to move on from a collectible vehicle after a time to make room for others. You won’t find the car or motorcycle I had in high school living in my barn, although I find long-term vehicle ownership stories fascinating.
And so it was recently, that I came across an ad for a 1967 International 908C pickup. Ever the pragmatic manufacturer of equipment, International Harvester Corp. came about the production of trucks honestly. Starting out as a farm implement maker, their specialty was corn binders, earning anything displaying the IH logo the nickname “Binder.”
In 1830, Cyrus McCormick invented the mechanical reaper and was awarded a patent for it in 1834. This machine was at the forefront of modern mechanized farming and greatly improved efficiency. By 1902, banker and industrial financier J.P. Morgan had formed International Harvester incorporating the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co., the Deering Harvester Co. and a few smaller agricultural equipment firms.
Harvesting crops is only one aspect of the farmer’s task; getting them to market is another.
Seeing this need, International Harvester added a utility truck to its offerings and introduced the Auto Wagon in 1907. This versatile vehicle sat high on its wheels for good ground clearance on the rutted roads of the day and a back seat that converted to a flatbed.
IH’s reputation for rugged, reliable trucks grew throughout the years as they expanded into medium and heavy haulers. Their smaller light line vehicles took a practical approach to design only implementing changes as improvements were needed, rather than following a model year specific redesign schedule like most automakers.
Practical features like four-wheel drive were available through the factory when many other manufacturers were subcontracting to conversion vendors. Utility vehicles that could carry a family or crew were well ahead of their time. The Travelall (similar to today’s Suburban), crew cab pickups and their Scout (similar to the Bronco or Wrangler) comprised IH Corp.’s lineup, and these vehicle types are now ubiquitous on American roadways.
By the early 1960s, IH’s base half-ton pickup was the model 1000. Seeing a need for a more economical option, the model 900 was introduced in 1963. using a four-cylinder engine from the Scout, derived simply by cutting a V8 engine in half longitudinally and using the right side.
This slant-4 engine was mated to a three-speed manual column shift and dropped into a short wheelbase, two-wheel drive, step-side pickup.
Feedback from users indicated the slant-4 engine was a little anemic when hauling even a limited load, so in 1966, the 908A model was born, the 8 indicating small V8 engine and the letter to differentiate the first version. The 1967 model year carried on the 908B with small changes, but when a federally mandated brake upgrade was required that year, it was added and the 908C was born.
This is the truck I found for sale on the internet. A basic, no-frills truck. If only vehicle manufacturers would offer such a vehicle today.
This 1967 IH 908C had lower miles, no power steering, no power brakes, “3 on the tree” manual transmission, roll-up windows and manual door locks. The electric two-speed windshield wipers along with the dog dish hubcaps embossed with International Harvester Corp. seemed almost fancy.
The contact information introduced me to the daughter of the owner, an elderly gentleman by the name of Bob, and I was asked to call him. Computers aren’t really Bob’s thing.
I chatted with Bob a while and asked him how long he’d owned the truck. “Well, I bought it around 1967” was his reply. Seems he’s owned the little IH since new — his first new vehicle, in fact.
The truck saw use off and on as needed, but about 30 years ago, it was tucked away and nearly forgotten. Recently, Bob dragged it out of storage and did some work to get it running.
A local body guy, in his spare time, fixed and painted the sheet metal. Unfortunately, a recently diagnosed cardiac issue ended Bob’s driving days and convinced him it was time to let his truck go.
A few hours' drive to the north in some lovely fall color brought us to Bob’s modest home, where the truck was waiting. As promised, it started right up. Evidence of farmer’s ingenuity was obvious from the plumbing pipes that he fabricated to hold the mirror in place to the various scraps of metal used as patches for the floors and bed.
Unfortunately, whoever worked on the body caused irreparable harm too extensive to reverse. I would have liked to say Bob and I shook hands and I drove the 908C home, but in its current state, the project required so much more than I could justify.
Sadly, I bid Bob farewell, glad to have met the man and hear his story. Perhaps Bob and his truck were meant to be together just a little longer. Sometimes the most memorable feature of a vehicle is the owner.
Eric and Michelle Meltzer own and operate Fryeburg Motors, a licensed, full-service automotive sales and service facility at 299 Main St. in Fryeburg, Maine. More than a business, cars are a passion, and they appreciate anything that drives, rides, floats or flies.