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I Drove 500 Miles to Buy This 1963 International Work Truck

My first up-close look at the Loadstar prompted a nervous laugh, seeing just how gargantuan it was. It’s about as close as you can get to a semi without needing a CDL, and all we had to pull it was a three-quarter-ton truck. You can see where this is headed…

A quick walkaround later and I was driving the International, which has enough room in the cabin that it’d make my New York colleagues feel bad about their apartments. No synchros in the five-speed transmission so I had to become familiar with double-clutching, all while splitting gears with the electric two-speed rear-end (that works like a dream, I might add). It was solid—not a weird shake or rattle to be found. Who would’ve guessed after 57 years that a truck this nice would still be around?

The hills proved to be a worthy test for the 345-cubic-inch V8, which is so understressed it sounds unlike anything built in the past 30 or 40 years, at least that I’ve heard. It’s got a low compression ratio—try 8.28:1—and my favorite description I’ve read so far is that it “doesn’t make enough power to break anything.” That might be true but, with the hi-low gearing, it’s got a respectable amount of oomph when you need it.

My 10-minute drive convinced me it was good enough to take home and after shooting the seller an offer, he took it and we headed off. Strangely, just before loading the International, the air conditioner on our tow rig started acting up. We couldn’t find the problem even after an hour of pulling fuses and relays, so we begrudgingly agreed to make the trip home without AC. Not the end of the world, though when I drove the Loadstar onto the trailer and gave the pickup a good rocking in the process, it completely shook out the components of the AC compressor and left them lying on the ground. Oh goodie.

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