All the Difference – John Peña Shows Some International Flair With His ’73 Travelall
There’s no denying that trucks are hotter than ever these days and we’ve seen a steady uptick of new builds ranging from ground-scrapping cruisers to lifted classics with 40-inch tires. At every get-together or while scanning through Instagram, there’s another cool C10, F100, maybe a D100 or Ram, Blazer, Bronco, Suburban, and more. What’s real cool is that many of these trucks are being built by younger guys who are sharing the fun with their families and forming a new and passionate group of truck rodders!
Just like the muscle car owners or street rod enthusiasts, there are those who are looking for something a little different. In the case of truck fans, sometimes a Chevy won’t do, nor a Ford or even a Dodge – but how about an International Harvester model such as a ’73 Travelall? For John Peña, the IH nameplate is the only way to roll!
It’s safe to say that John appreciates a challenge, as he is all about International trucks. He’s had this ’73 Travelall for about eight years and it has gone through several incarnations during that time. In between, he works on his ’66 1000A pickup and more recently scored a ’71 1210 service truck that his 13-year old son, Carter, has already started tinkering with. It just goes to prove that when it comes to IH trucks, you can’t have just one. John even goes by @ihbuilder online.
John scored his Travelall from the original owner who purchased it to haul his Airstream on family vacations. Eventually it turned into their ranch truck and was used to check on cattle, fix fences, and typical farm work. It wasn’t pretty when John bought it, but it was original with all the hard-to-find IH pieces and parts to create the custom cruiser John envisioned.
As expected, there was rust. And there was also a lot of pasture droppings caked on the sheet metal that John and his friend Chris Stahl had to scrape away to expose some more hidden damage. Alas, they chipped away at the project little by little until it was ready for Pat Reid of Madd Concepts to lay down a custom blended PPG blue followed by an updated vinyl wrap of white by Mike Moore of ScoutCo Products for a touch of classic IH heritage.
The interior appears fairly stock at first glance, but John and Chris made sure to tweak things just enough to give it a modern flair while keeping its unmistakable IH identity. The stock seats were covered in saddle brown leather with houndstooth inserts by 5 Star Upholstery, with the door panels receiving a similar treatment. The dash was also wrapped in leather, an option that was never available from the factory, while the stock gauges were cleaned up and an era-correct woodgrain wheel looks right at home. To the discerning IH eye, one might notice the two 1980 GM switches that control the all-important stance that John envisioned from the start.
That stance is controlled by a custom suspension set up by John’s friend Chris Stahl. They wanted the IH beast to lay on the ground when parked, so Chris built a custom set of control arms that are mounted to a modified CPP spindle and fitted with air springs. The rear was built with same goal and the pair stealthily snuck a step notch into the center of the rear floor to accommodate the original IH cross-linked rearend when dropped. This leaves onlookers scratching their heads as the stock rear floor is in place on the sides while the kick-up is centered and disguised with some vintage suitcases!
Completing the package is a full set of 22-inch Raceline Scoundrel wheels wrapped in Kumho rubber to get the 345c.i. of International power to the ground. It’s refreshing to see the factory engine in place, though it’s not quite the powerhouse John would like (his ’66 packs a 6.0L LS). The 345 V8 was treated to a thorough machining and an RV cam was added along with a Holley Sniper EFI system for improved induction and fuel control. The original manifolds were retained and dump into a set of Flowmasters at the end of the custom plumbed exhaust.
At this point the Travelall is ready to live up to its namesake as John and his family plan to rack up some miles this summer enjoying shows and cruises throughout the southeast Texas region. And when they are home, there’s plenty more International projects to keep John busy! We’ll be watching for a reboot of his ’66 on the AutoCross track next year.
Photos by John Jackson