International Harvester built a solid reputation in the fields of farm equipment and trucks over many years.

IHC products were built for hard work where they more than held their own in the farming and jobsite worlds.

Jim Sutherland

MyStarCollectorCar spotted a unique 1956 IHC pickup that was a combination of old and new, including the original owners’ construction business signs still on the truck’s doors. This unusual resto mod caught our interest in a big way, and we were fortunate enough to find its owner, Karen Paloni, for an interview about the pickup’s history with her.

Karen said the IHC was a family project that started with the truck’s purchase in 2013 and eventual completion for the road in 2017 after they mapped out a game plan for the ’56 International Harvester pickup. The plan included retention of the bullet holes in the passenger door to acknowledge the truck’s history when it was parked for many years.   

The game plan also included purchase of an early 1990s Dodge ¾ ton pickup equipped with a first-generation Cummins diesel engine because of its brute force power and reliable reputation. Karen added they chose an early ‘90s Cummins Dodge because it did not have an intercooler and would fit into the IHC’s engine compartment without carving up the front end of the old pickup.

A nod to the durability of the Cummins is the fact it already had 700,000 kilometers (roughly 420,00 miles) on it when Karen and her family crew bought the engine. It is still a very reliable performer in the old IHC, according to Karen, a fact that is showcased by the fact she has logged an additional 13,500 kms (8400 miles)-and still counting on the road since the powertrain swap.

The transplant included the Dodge’s automatic transmission because it could handle the giant horsepower boost, along with the newer truck’s rear end, because the IHC now rests on the Dodge’s frame, albeit a shorter version of the frame because it needed to fit the older truck’s body.

MyStarCollectorCar readers will undoubtedly notice the large beverage cooler in the IHC’s bed. The vintage cooler has been redesigned to hold a custom fuel tank because the Dodge truck’s original plastic tank would not fit within the shortened frame modifications. The unique fuel tank also has an upper cooling compartment that will still put a chill on beverages–just not beers from the now-defunct Calgary Brewery.

Karen and her family wanted to retain most of the IHC pickup’s exterior features, including its West Coast mirrors that were used by its construction owners on jobsites to keep an eye on big loads and obstacles when backing the truck into a tight area.

They also added exhaust stacks to help the Cummins diesel breathe easier under load and provide better overall performance on the road. Life on the road is important to Karen because she loves to drive the resto mod IHC whenever the opportunity arises for her.

Karen told MyStarCollectorCar the driving experience in the IHC is better than her Jeep because it is quieter, more comfortable–and even gets better mileage than her Jeep. She also mentioned the steering wheel was donated by a Peterbilt and the gas pedal is out of an El Camino to add extra driver comfort on trips.

Karen usually travels at about 70 mph (110 km/h) on the highway and enjoys every minute of every trip in the IHC resto mod she and her family built for fun.        

Jim Sutherland

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.