Randy Weaver’s too-Cool-to-be-Ugly 1964 International Travelette Shop Truck
As one of the oldest manufacturing companies in the U.S. and a one-time industrial giant, International Harvester (IH) has a storied history. Its roots stretch way back to the 1830s when brothers Cyrus and Leander McCormick patented a horse-drawn reaper, which sold remarkably well due to the brothers’ savvy business tactics. In 1902, the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company merged with the Deering Harvester Company and formed the International Harvester Company, becoming a titan in agricultural equipment manufacturing, eventually producing the Farmall tractor, the scion of International’s golden era.
Light-duty trucks became an increasing part of IH’s industrial mix starting in 1907, and the company eventually enjoyed a very strong position in the mid- and large-size truck market. Its Loadstar series was ubiquitous for decades. However, in an effort to better align itself against the Big Three, IH brought the Travelall to market in 1953, a competitor to the Chevy Suburban. Along with it came the Travelette, the first U.S.-produced four-door double-cab pickup able to seat six.
Soon after, a series of financial missteps, management blunders and misguided production expansions put IH in crisis. It stopped production of passenger vehicles in 1980 to concentrate on commercial vehicles, and eventually the pickups—Travelalls, Travelettes and Scouts—were orphaned. Like a lot of farm equipment, the trucks’ usefulness faded with age and many were relegated to barns or fields, which is exactly how Randy Weaver, of Weaver Customs in Sandy, Utah, found this ’64 International crew cab Travelette.
Much like IH’s attitude toward the Big Three after World War II, Weaver’s reasons for building the truck were spurred by a drive to produce something unique. “We wanted to build a shop truck,” he explains, “that was not the normal Chevy, Ford or Dodge. You don’t see too many of them [Travelettes].” When Weaver came across this truck sinking into a field just outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming, he knew he’d found the perfect truck to handle shop duties, and the idea for The Grunt was born. “It is the parts-getter shop truck. It is out there everyday earning its keep. It hauls project cars on the open-deck trailer and beats up on sports cars on the street.”
Since the truck last held a valid license plate in 1979 and had been subjected to the harsh winter climate of southeastern Wyoming, there was plenty of work to be done. “We went to work on it,” remembers Weaver, “as soon as I took it out of that field and brought it home. The plan was to make it my daily driver and to put all modern running gear underneath, including a hopped-up 12-valve Cummins.”
The Cummins 5.9-liter turbodiesel engine, aka the Cummins 12-valve, is one of the first Dodge B engines to be used in a light truck, which means it is a perfect selection for a mid-’60s light truck such as the Travelette. It provides better fuel economy and massive torque at low speeds, perfect for hauling, say, a project truck back to the shop.
This particular one was plucked out of a 1997 Dodge, and with a few modifications from Weaver, it now produces approximately 650 hp and a whopping 1,200 ft-lbs of torque—not bad for a 20-year-old, second-hand V-6. Cool air arrives via Airaid intake system, while the spent gases exit through an exhaust system provided by Flowmaster. It is mated to a Dodge 48RE transmission, beefed-up for its task by SunCoast Diesel in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, a haven where the weak links of everyday transmissions are shored up so they can tackle the massive strain of a powerful engine. The gears of the four-speed auto are found with a B&M shifter.
The plan was to leave the patina as it was, meaning that all of the affects of the elements would be halted and repaired where necessary, but preserved for the best effect. What was left of the medium turquoise factory paint was retained, and intricate, well-executed pinstriping was laid down by Joel Nelson. “The patina is all natural,” says Weaver. “Mother Nature did all of that, and we just clearcoated it to preserve it.”
Frame and Suspension
The suspension on any old truck that has been whiling away the years in Wyoming would never be up the task the Weaver team planned to ask of it, so some modifications were needed. Since the Travelette was going to take on a new, lowered stance from stock, the frame was C-notched to keep the rear axle from hitting the frame, while the remainder of the frame was expertly boxed to add rigidity and much needed strength. This is a work truck after all.
The front suspension components were taken from a ’70s Mustang II front end and narrowed. Dropped spindles and tubular control arms keep the mechanicals pivoting and pointing in the right direction. The bumps in the road are smoothed out via Ridetech adjustable coil-overs, while a 4-link suspension and Ridetech shocks keep the rearend on the ground.
Brakes and Wheels
To maintain the patina look and stay near stock, one-off billet aluminum wheels were ordered and dressed to match. However, to accent the lowered stance, a foursome of Desert Storm tires from Delinte Tire in size 265/45R22 were added to all of the corners, giving a low profile with plenty of grip. General Motors brakes and a new hydroboost brake booster help halt the Travelette.
Left mostly spartan, like any good farm truck, the interior lacks the creature comforts of modern trucks with the exception of the seats. They’re imported from a Ford King Ranch, featuring distressed leather that matches the steering wheel wrap and center console. Modern gauges keep an eye on the Travelette’s vitals, and tunes are piped in through a Kicker head unit via Kicker speakers.
Randy Weaver has been building custom trucks professionally for the last 17 years, but he built his first one at the tender age of 14, and he’s not about to stop. When asked about plans for another Weaver Customs project, he provided a resounding “Absolutely! We’re always looking for the next cool and innovative project.”
1964 International Travelette
- 1997 six-cylinder Dodge 6BT turbodiesel engine
- 650 hp
- 1,200 ft-lbs of torque
- Airaid intake system
- Flowmaster exhaust
- 1997 48RE Dodge transmission
- Suncoast converter
- B&M shifter
CHASSIS & SUSPENSION
- C-notched and boxed frame
- 4-link rear suspension
- Mustang II front end
- Narrowed front axle
- Tubular control arms
- Ridetech adjustable coil-overs
- Ridetech rear shocks
- Dropped spindles
- GM brakes
- Hydroboost brake booster
WHEELS & TIRES
- One-off 22-inch billet aluminum wheels
- 265/45R22 Delinte Tire Desert Strom tires
BODY & PAINT
- Original patina turquoise paint and body
- Pinstriping by Joel Nelson
INTERIOR & STEREO
- Ford King Ranch seats
- Distressed leather
- Kicker head unit
- Kicker speakers
Special Thanks From the Owner: “Axalta, Dakota Digital, American Autowire, Kicker, Flowmaster, B&M, Attitude Performance Products, Midnight 4×4, Industrial Injection, Pilot Transport and Randy’s Transmissions.”