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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Retro Bug-Out Vehicle #1: Travelall



[From time to time, I will highlight vehicles that are rugged, reliable bug-out vehicles that are also pre-electronic so as to be less susceptible to an electromagnetic pulse attack.]

Retro Bug-Out Vehicle #1: The International Harvester Travelall

Think Chevy Suburban and you have the basic idea. It’s a great vehicle for bugging out. It's big, rugged, and reliable. It can tow. What's not to like?

An entire family can fit inside along with quite a bit of cargo. And that makes more space on the trailer for more essentials.


But the newest version of the Travelall you can buy is a 1975 edition and we can thank our friends in the Middle East for its demise.



The 1973 Arab Oil Embargo did our country some serious damage. The USA was attempting to use diplomacy during Yom Kippur War and intolerant Arab states did not like that. 

In retaliation the Arab states made it so that oil went from $3 per barrel to $12 per barrel, all over their hatred for Israel.

The Arab states did it again to us in 1979.

And...well...there was that little event on 9-11-01 arranged by Arab terrorists that are coddled and tolerated by Arab States.

I do not hate Arabs, but I really wish more of them would decry then raping and pillaging done erroneously in the name of their religion by unscrupulous manipulators.

The Arab Oil Embargo suddenly focused Americans on vehicle mileage. 

Out went Detroit iron. 

In came Toyotas, Datsuns (Nissan), Honda, Mitsubishis masquerading as Chryslers, and VWs.

Large, low-mileage, American vehicles collapsed in sales. 

General Motors and Ford staggered. 

Chrysler nearly went bankrupt. 

American Motors survived, but not for long. 

International Harvester could not weather the storm and immediatly axed their full-sized pickup architecture so as to redouble efforts on their more compact Scout model. The Travelall was based on the pickup platform, so away it went.



Both International Harvester and Jeep carved out an interesting niche by doing truck-based station wagons. The Jeep Wagoneer is another great bug out vehicle. We’ll save that for later.


The Travelall is massive. It has a 119-inch wheelbase and casts quite a shadow. 

It drives better than a pickup of its era. 

The Travelall had an independent front torsion bar suspension, which not only provides a smooth ride, but also excellent sway control. Chevys had independent front suspension. Ford had the truly idiotic Twin-I Beam suspension that increased weight and tire wear. Dodge still had a stick axle up front.

In 1969, the Travelall got downright handsome.


Parts for the Travelall are easy to find.

Although International Harvester used their own engines, they also used American Motors Corporation engines, one of which is the impossible-to-kill, straight six that did duty in hundreds of thousands of Jeep CJs, Wranglers, Cherokees, and Wagoneers.

That engine isn't good for burnouts at the drag strip, but it will run forever.

Converting to a Chevy 350 V8 is simple.

Some have even done a Cummins Turbodiesel conversion.



The downside is that—these days—people who have Travelalls know how cool and amazing their trucks are and will not part with them easily.

The upside is that a neglected Travelall can be had for cheap and fixed for cheap. Find one without rust, make the powertrain sound and stop there.

Making it pretty and all restored will just draw attention to the fact that you have money to burn. It can look battered, but underneath it has a heart of gold.

And yes, I’d prettyify mine. I love the Travelall.

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