What Happened to International Harvester?

What Happened to International Harvester?

Sometimes the real story is so much better than lore and fiction, and there is no better example of that than International Harvester.

This is the story of how an all-American manufacturer of farm equipment went from selling tractors that redefined rural America, to selling an iconic SUV that redefined our visions of adventure. Yet, thanks to terrible decision-making and outright greed, this formerly great, all-American manufacturer suffered an early, unceremonious death at the hands of a changing economy and anti-union decision-makers.

International HarvestersA pair of vintage Internationals - Credit

In yet another twist of fate, International Harvester’s most iconic vehicle, the Scout, has now been resurrected as an all-electric vehicle by a German conglomerate that happens to be one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world.

This is the real story of International Harvester.

What Products Did International Harvester Sell?

There is a long history of International Harvester products, dating back to 1902 when McCormick Harvesting Machine Company and Deering Harvester Company merged to form the International Harvester Company. This new company continued to produce a range of agricultural machinery, including tractors, plows, and threshers and soon became a leader in the industry.

International Harvester TractorInternational Harvester Tractor - Credit

Success wouldn’t really hit IH until 1931 when they came up with an idea that would change how farmers got their work done. After surveying farmers all over the nation, International realized there was a growing market for small and medium-sized farms that needed a workhorse, but the large, cumbersome tractors that were common at the time didn’t really fit the bill.

In 1923, they dropped the Farmall on the world, and it was an immediate success. Thanks to a narrow front end and a huge variety of attachments, the Farmall could work in tight spaces and still perform all the duties on farms with ease. In the 1930s, the company introduced the Farmall F-20, which featured a larger engine and improved transmission. This model would go on to sell millions of units and fuel the country’s war effort during World War II.

International Light And Heavy Duty TruckLight and Heavy Duty Trucks - Credit

Early on, International Harvester was also in the business of building light-duty pickup trucks, starting with Model A Auto Wagon way back in 1907. Over the subsequent years, they would build everything from the R and S series trucks in the 1950s and 1960s, to the 100, 200, and 300 series trucks in the 1960s and 1970s. Medium and heavy-duty trucks, along with the beautifully styled Metro delivery van were also part of their massive portfolio.

Motorhomes, heavy haulers, fire trucks, and other commercial vehicles also made up a vast portion of the International Harvester portfolio.

Family Hauler

As IH continued to expand and compete with the Big Three, they needed more products that appealed to ever-larger American families.

General Motors essentially owned the large SUV market for nearly 30 years thanks to its iconic Suburban. This truck-based people carrier was designed to haul around up to eight people, and all their stuff, along with towing and hauling capabilities to boot.

Velocity 1963 IH Travelall1963 IH Travelall restored by Velocity

In recent years, there has been renewed interest in the Scout, with companies like Velocity producing updated versions of the classic SUV for modern drivers who appreciate its combination of style and off-road capabilities. Even though the original Scout was bare bones, the creations from Velocity blend the legendary style with modern performance and stunning luxury like no one else on the planet.

If you can’t wait for, or aren’t interested in the all-electric Scout SUV and want a classic with no compromises, get in touch with Velocity today.

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